Bunker Hill Monument: The Massachusetts Gate


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 a novel I’m writing. I discovered a man who was the situational leader of the Sons of Liberty at the time Bunker Hill happened in June 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, as the American’s retreated from their redoubt. He died instantly and became the first martyr of the American Revolution.

When I pursued my personal pictures from a trip to Boston in 2013, I was surprised to find that I had taken pictures of the Massachusetts Gate. What was more surprising was the only two names on the gate – Colonel William Prescott and Dr. Joseph Warren.

BTW, Paul Revere did not participate in the battle as portrayed in the mini-series The Sons of Liberty (although I loved the series). The character they were depicting was actually Colonel William Prescott, and he did not have a horse.


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