John Adams in a letter to John Winthrop following the Battle of Bunker Hill that occurred on June 17, 1775 where Joseph Warren was killed in action.
“Alass poor Warren! …. For God Sake my Friend let us be upon our Guard, against too much Admiration of our greatest Friends. President of the Congress, Chairman of the Committee of Safety, Major General ….. was too much for Mortal, and This Accumulation of Admiration upon one Gentleman, which among the Hebrews was called Idolatry….”
Joseph Warren is an important character in the first book of my historical fantasy series about the American Revolution: “Angels and Patriots Book One, Sons of Liberty, Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill.” As I turned my attention to the second novel in the series “Angels & Patriots Book Two, The Cause of 1776″, I was faced with writing about the discovery and identification of his remains, his funeral and second burial, and his orphaned and destitute children.
Aside from my own research, I also had a phone conversation with Joseph’s 2011 biographer, Dr. Sam Forman, regarding things to consider and how what was happening in Boston during the spring of 1776 after the British evacuated may have affected Joseph’s funeral that took place in April of that year.
In my further research, I stumbled across the last letter Joseph Warren wrote to John Adams.
To John Adams from Joseph Warren, 20 May 1775
Cambridge May. 20th. 1775
Having wrote fully upon several Subjects to Mr. Hancock and Mr. Adams, upon several Matters which they will communicate to you,1 I can only add here that I Yesterday heard from your Family at Braintree were all in Health. A person having brought me a Letter from your Lady to me recommending one of your Brothers to be a Major in one of the Regiments, I am sorry the Letter did not arrive sooner, but I shall do all in my Power to obtain such a place for him yet, as he is the Brother of my Friend, and I hear is a worthy Man.2 I am Dear Sir most sincerely, Your Friend & Humble Servt.
In discovering Joseph Warren’s last letter to John Adams, I also found the following letter. It moved me greatly when I realized that John, at the writing of his letter, didn’t know Joseph’s mutilated body had been lying on Breed’s Hill for four days, in a shallow grave with a farmer. I felt genuine sorrow for John Adams.
John entrusted George Washington to deliver the letter to Joseph. Washington delivered the letter to the man who was elected to fill Joseph’s shoes as the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, James Warren (no relation to Joseph).
When he received the letter, James Warren read the letter aloud to the congressional members.
From John Adams to Joseph Warren, 21 June 1775
Phyladelphia June 21. 1775
This Letter I presume will be delivered into your own Hand by the General. He proposes to set out, tomorrow, for your Camp. God Speed him. Lee is, Second Major General, Schuyler, who is to command at N. York is the third and Putnam the fourth. How many Brigadiers general we shall have, whether five, Seven or Eight, is not determined, nor who they shall be. One from N. Hampshire, one from R. Island, two from Connecticutt, one from N. York, and three from Massachusetts, perhaps.1
I am almost impatient to be at Cambridge. We shall maintain a good Army for you. I expect to hear of Grumbletonians, some from parcimonious and others from Superstitious Prejudices. But We do the best we can, and leave the Event.
How do you like your Government? Does it make or remove Difficulties? I wish We were nearer to you.
The Tories lie very low both here and at New York. The latter will very soon be as deep as any Colony.
We have Major Skeene a Prisoner, enlarged a little on his Parol—a very great Tool.2 I hope Govr Tryon, will be taken care of.3 But We find a great many Bundles of weak Nerves. We are obliged to be as delicate and soft and modest and humble as possible. Pray Stir up every Man, who has a Quill to write me. We want to know the Number of your Army—A List of your officers—a State of your Government—the Distresses of Boston—the Condition of the Enemy &c. I am, Dr sir your Friend,
We have all recommended Billy Tudor for a secretary to the General. Will he make a good one? This moment informed of Powder arrived here, 500 Blls they say. We must send it along to you.
Forman, Samuel A. Dr. Joseph Warren, The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty. 2012: Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, Louisiana.
“To John Adams from Joseph Warren, 20 May 1775,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/06-03-02-0006. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Papers of John Adams, vol. 3, May 1775 – January 1776, ed. Robert J. Taylor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979, p. 10.]
“From John Adams to Joseph Warren, 21 June 1775,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/06-03-02-0027. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Papers of John Adams, vol. 3, May 1775 – January 1776, ed. Robert J. Taylor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979, pp. 44–45.]
Dr. Joseph Warren is an important character in my award-winning historical fantasy novel Angels & Patriots Book One, Sons of Liberty, Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill Available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle eBook.