Bunker Hill Monument: The Massachusetts Gate

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If you ask someone to name one person who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill, the answer will probably be a blank stare. If you ask someone to name two Americans who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, you will probably get the same blank stare as an answer.

The answer to both questions is clearly etched in the granite of the Massachusetts Gate at the Charlestown entrance to the Bunker Hill Monument. Sadly, most people don’t recognize either name and, therefore, dismiss both. I did the same.

Then, I began research on the political climate in and around Boston in early 1775 for the novel I was writing. I discovered a man who was the situational leader of the Sons of Liberty in the spring of 1775 – Dr. Joseph Warren. He stepped into my novel as a major character.

I also researched and wrote in detail about the Battle of Bunker Hill (arguably Breed’s Hill) and the man who led that brave American fight, Colonel William Prescott. If Prescott has any fame, it would be for the order he issued to his men as the British regulars marched toward their redoubt. With their gunpowder supply dwindling, Prescott ordered, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!”

When Dr. Joseph Warren arrived at the battle, Colonel Prescott offered to relinquish command to Warren, who possessed an uncommissioned major generalship. Warren demurred stating that he had come as a volunteer to help where he could. Warren was shot at close range in the face, probably by someone who recognized him, as the American’s retreated from their redoubt. He died instantly.

Joseph’s four children were orphaned. In 1778, Benedict Arnold donated $500 to the children’s educated, and secured them a major general’s half-pay from congress until the children came of age.

Joseph Warren is America’s first martyr and an important, yet forgotten patriot.

Resources:

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Bunker Hill A City, A Siege, A Revolution New York: Penguin Books, 2013. Print.

Borneman, Walter R. American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. Print.

Dr. Joseph Warren is an important character in my novel Angels & Patriots Book One. Buy it today on Amazon in paperback or Kindle eBook. Angels & Patriots Book One