Washington’s Drummer Boy: Guest Post by Michael L. Ross

Sometimes freedom disappears one law at a time, like Virginia creeper covering a stone wall. This was often the case with Britain and its American colonies, where the mother country sought to control and sap resources from the citizens far away, often without regard to their welfare or benefit. Everyone has heard from school about the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts, and how the Boston Tea Party and other incidents led to the war for independence – but what about the White Pine Act?

The British Crown first passed the White Pine Act in 1691 for Massachusetts, making it a crime to cut down and retain logs from a white pine tree more than one foot in diameter, without the King’s mark and permission. Such trees were designated solely for the use of the British Navy, used as masts for the King’s ships. In January 1770, the Crown extended this law to New Hampshire, and all of New England.

Courtesy Library of Congress

Since white pine is one of the most plentiful trees in New Hampshire, this law posed a severe hardship to the sawmills along the Merrimack River. The law was extended to all of New England. The sawyers could be arrested, fined, and the Crown could seize the fruit of their labors. Ebenezer Muggeridge was among those targeted, and he incited a rebellion.

Another little-known fact is that during the Revolutionary War, George Washington had a detachment known as Washington’s Honor Guard, whose job was to protect him on the battlefield. Though soldiers had to be sixteen or older to be selected for the guard, some drummer boys were as young as ten. They were in the thick of battle, without weapons, relaying the orders of Washington and other officers via their drums. One of these youngsters was Muggeridge’s ward, Billy Sims. What follows is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Washington’s Drummer Boy, based in part on a newspaper account of the White Pine Rebellion, and Billy’s exploits.

April 1772 Weare, New Hampshire

Bill Simpson looked up from the bench where he was pulling a drawknife on a piece of oak. Three approaching horsemen clattered into the dooryard, two of them red-coated soldiers. Being only eight years old, it wasn’t his job to meet them, but he was intensely curious – what would redcoats want with the master of the mill, Ebenezer Mudgett? He pretended to keep working while listening to hear all he could.

“Master Mudgett! I am John Sherburn, deputy surveyor for His Excellency Royal Governor Wentworth.”

“Good day, to you, sir. And what does the Crown need this time?”

“Masts for His Majesty’s ships.  You, sir, have white pine logs above one foot in diameter, the very kind needed for those masts. And,” paused Sherburn, “you do not have a license to possess them! Guards, scour the shop!”

Bill brushed back sweat into his curly black hair, despite the cold. He remembered the pine he’d placed behind the barn, right where Pa directed. Had he covered it well enough? He worked with Ebenezer in the woods – didn’t these lobsters realize that at least a third of the trees in the forest were white pine? If they found it, would Pa be angry?

The soldiers began ransacking the shop, opening closets, climbing up to the loft, looking behind the building, even searching under the horses’ straw.

“Surely, you must be mistaken, sir. Perhaps a record is mislaid? Of course, I could make the masts that the Crown requires if desired.”

“His Majesty’s shipwrights would be amused. But you will not be if my men find that white pine. You know well that all white pines of that size belong to the Crown, for the last fifty years.”

“Oh, I know well enough. The Crown takes the best trees and the bread from my family’s mouth, all without a by your leave.”

A woman entered from the side door. “What is it, Ebenezer? Are these guests? You didn’t tell me you had invited anyone.”

“Miriam, it’s no concern to you. These are the King’s men, not guests. They’ve come to inspect.”

“Inspect? Inspect what? Has the King a sudden interest in wood shavings and our stables?” She pushed an errant gray hair back under her coif and wiped a hand on her white apron.

“Sir!” One of the soldiers rushed forward. “We’ve found them – ten white pine logs, hidden out behind the barn. They do not have the King’s arrow mark. And some more pieces are sawn,” gesturing at the sash saw.

“Very good, corporal.” He made a slight bow in Miriam’s direction and followed the soldiers.

Ebenezer tensed. “What’s wrong, sir?” asked Bill. The horses and I put those logs just where you said. Covered them well to keep the rain and snow off.”

“The problem, my young apprentice, is that the King thinks he owns everything.”

The soldiers and Sherburn returned. “Arrest this man! Take him to Sheriff Whiting. And make sure to mark those logs with the King’s symbol.”

Miriam rushed forward. “Please don’t take my husband!”

Bill dropped his work. Sir, my Pa has done nothing but try to make a living. I put the logs there – take me! Please don’t hurt him. You can’t take him. You can’t!”

“I’m afraid I must – the King’s law is clear.”

“Never mind, my dear. I’m sure it won’t be for long. Send Bill for my brother, and we’ll see about these laws.”


Bill rushed through the snow, down the path leading to the home of John Mudgett, brother to his master. His mind whirled -if the British took Pa, how would the mill survive?  Tall for his age at five feet, his strides lengthened in a hurry. Ebenezer was officially his master but had been a father to him after his own died. His mother in Rockingham parceled out her children, having no means to support them. Bill felt lucky to have a kind and God-fearing master. What would they do to him? The freezing air bit his lungs as he ran, falling once on the ice, and picking himself up again. Clouds poured out from his mouth and hung in the air as he breathed hard, rounded the corner of the barn, and pounded on the door of the whitewashed frame house.

“Uncle John! Uncle John!” he yelled.

The door opened, and Rose, the Mudgett’s slave housekeeper, caught his hand in mid-knock.

“What’s all the fuss and feathers, Marse Bill? Marse John is out doin’ the milkin’.”

“The British have taken my master!”

“Oh, Lawd! I’ll fetch Marse John.”

She darted to the barn and came back with a portly red-haired man, wiping his hands on a milking apron.

“What’s all this? Why would the lobsters take my brother?”

“He got some white pine. The governor says it’s the King’s. That’s all I know. Miz Miriam says to come quick.”

“All right. Rose, you’ll have to finish the milking. I’ll hitch up the sleigh. Tell Clara I may be home late.”

Within minutes, Bill and John were flying down the road behind a pair of matched trotters. The snow blew up in a mist behind them. Bill pulled the laprobe more tightly about him. There had been no time for getting hot bricks, and his feet were numb from the cold.

“Who was it that came, boy?”

“Soldiers – and that new man, Sherburn, I think his name was.”

“Sherburn, eh? A troublemaker if ever I knew one. How much pine did my brother have?”

“Only ten logs or so.”

“Hmm, well, not so much. If we’re lucky, they’ll let him off with a fine.”

“What if they don’t, sir?”

“Don’t you worry about that. Leave it to your elders. And pray.”

They pulled into the dooryard, and John leaped down, handing the reins to Bill.

“Miriam! Has there been any word?”

Miriam came slowly into the yard, head down. Bill’s heart clinched – she looked to have been crying. He wanted to run to her, but held still, holding the horses.

“No, John, no word. I mustn’t leave the other children. But I’m frantic to know what’s happening. You don’t think they would… would they?”

“No, of course, they wouldn’t.” Bill caught the hesitancy in his adopted uncle’s voice. “Don’t worry, Miriam. I’ll spread the word to the other mills, and see what’s happened with Ebenezer. Have you any ready cash?”

“Very little. I have this note for forty shillings. Aside from that, we have accounts owed for work to be completed. The good Lord alone knows how we will do without Ebenezer …”

“Trust in God, Miriam, and I will return soon.”

John took the forty shilling note and stuffed it in a pocket. Bill handed back the reins, and they were off again. They stopped at several other mills along the river. At each stop, John spoke in hushed tones to the mill master, and then on they went again.

When they finally arrived in town, John went to the lockup and asked for the Sheriff.

“When might Sheriff Whiting be available?”

“When he returns from his supper, sir. May be of help to you?”

“I’m here concerning Ebenezer Mudgett.”

“Ah, well. Nothing I can do there. He’s bound over to the magistrate.”

“I’ll just step over to Quimby’s Inn, then. Will you advise me when the Sheriff returns?”

“Bless you, sir, and he’s likely over there himself. Can’t say he’d like you disturbing his victuals, though.”

“Much obliged, sir.”

Turning to the sleigh, he tied off the horses and bid Bill follow.

Bill jumped down from the sleigh and wondered what good it would do to talk to the Sheriff. Hadn’t John said that Pa was already bound over, whatever that meant? It didn’t sound right. They stamped their feet to clear off the snow and pushed open the plank door. A rush of heat hit them from the large central fireplace. There were perhaps ten round tables, each with a coal oil lamp. Only three had patrons. At one sat a florid, overweight man, having an intimate meeting with roast mutton and johnnycakes. The dark paneled wall reflected dancing flames from the fire and the lamps, and at the far end was a bar with stools, and large kegs of beer.

“Sheriff Whiting?”

The Sheriff looked up between bites, annoyed. “Yes? What is it? Can’t a man finish a meal in peace?”

“When a man may conduct his business in peace, perhaps so. You’ve taken my brother Ebenezer into custody?”

“Yes. Crown law. He’ll stand trial.”

“Have you ever known him to cause trouble before?”

“Well, no. Except for some talk about the governor.”

“And should his wife, children and this poor boy here,” gesturing at Bill,” suffer for some loose talk? Can you not release him until the hearing? He has a business to run. He isn’t going anywhere.”

“He owes one pound fifteen shillings fine for the trees.”

“And pray sir, how can he pay that from the lockup? There is unfinished work at the mill. If you will but release him, we shall have the fine by the morrow.”

“You’ll sign for that?”

“Yes, if you require it.”

“I do. Meet me at the lockup in fifteen minutes. Now go away.”

Bill was tempted to dump a pitcher of water on the Sheriff but resisted the urge.

They stood by the stove at the lockup, waiting for the Sheriff’s return. It was more like half an hour than fifteen minutes, but there was little else to do. When the Sheriff waddled in, the deputy bobbed and scraped, and went down in the holes to fetch the prisoner. After a few minutes, Ebenezer emerged, face dirty, rubbing his wrists. It was all Bill could do not to fly to him and throw his arms around him. That would seem childish, however.

John bent over a high table, signing papers with quill and ink.

“Tomorrow morning, then,” said Sheriff Whiting.

Ebenezer said, “I thank you for releasing me tonight. We’ll be sure to be here tomorrow to give the King his just due.”


Ebenezer climbed into the sleigh. He held the boy at arm’s length, just looking into my eyes, and then drew Bill into a hug, not caring who saw. John clicked to the horses, who recognized they were headed home and went at a fast trot. The men gazed at the deepening evening in silence. Bill couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

“What will happen, Pa? Will you pay them? And where will we get more trees? The soldiers used hatchets and marked an arrow on each of the ones we have.”

“Don’t worry your head. There are other trees. And yes, we will pay for them. Oh, we will pay for them!”

John looked over at his brother with a grim smile.

When they arrived back at the mill, though it was evening and just before chore time, the dooryard was full of horses and men, instead of the usual evening quiet, there was an uproar as twenty men tried to talk at once.

Ebenezer turned to Bill. “Bill, I want you to stay out of this. Tend the horses, mind your Ma, and go to bed. Say your prayers. Don’t mind the noise. Do you hear?”

“Yes, sir.”

Bill got down and unhitched the horses, taking them to the barn for a rubdown and feed. His uncle would need them to go home. He was following orders – but that didn’t mean he had to hurry. One advantage of being young he found was that adults often told him something, and then forgot about it. Bill heated some water on the stove, so that it was lukewarm, then gave it to the horses to drink. The dappled gray slurped greedily, and Bill had to hold him back. The bay patiently waited his turn, nibbling at the hay. Once they both had water, Bill mixed a bran mash, and gave that to them, while rubbing and drying them, and straining his ears to listen.

“The Crown has gone too far. We’ve had this highway robbery for fifty years. Previous governors did not enforce it. Now the surveyor is sending soldiers into the forest, marking trees. What happens when they decide white pines aren’t all they want, as if that wasn’t bad enough?”

Another man yelled, “Wentworth and his thugs have done enough!”

Pa spoke – Bill recognized the voice. “Men, we’ve resisted. We’ve written letters. We’ve tried to tell the King what we think of his taxes and fees. We got the Townshend repealed. If we stand still, the King will put his boot on our necks.”

Another voice spoke, calmer, but able to be heard – Bill thought he recognized the reverend. Finishing with the horses, instead of going in the house, he climbed the ladder to the loft and opened the hay doors slightly so that he could look out and hear without being seen. The reverend of the Congregational Church spoke, raising his arms for quiet.

“Brothers, you know that the Scriptures tell us to obey our government. The King must obey God, and we must obey the King. I urge you to consider carefully before starting something that cannot end well. The Bible says to pay tax to whom tax is due, honor to whom honor is due. Take care, lest we are on the wrong side of God.”

The men in the yard glowered at the reverend. Ebenezer stepped forward again, mounting a box.

“The Bible also says there is a time to obey God rather than man. Neighbors, you know me to be a peaceful man. I have paid taxes to the Crown while insisting that they have no right to tax Englishmen who have no vote on the matter. Enough is enough. We must feed our families. It is time to pay King George in something other than a coin. Who’s with me?”

Shouts resounded around the yard.

“All right then. Meet here an hour before first light. Bring ropes and torches. It’s time that King George got a taste of what true Englishmen think of his taxes.”

When Bill awoke the next morning, he saw the shadowy figures of Ebenezer and Miriam moving about the kitchen as he looked down from the loft bed he shared with the Mudgett girls, Achsah and Sarah. The girls still slept, but Ebenezer was up and dressed. Dawn was peeking above the trees, spreading pink and orange tints to the clouds. Bill dressed quietly and descended the ladder.

“Ma, what’s happening so early?”

Miriam started, then shushed him. “Why aren’t you asleep? This will be a busy day.”

Looking out the window, Bill saw buggies and horses in the yard, along with a collection of men, all armed.

Miriam smiled. “The one day we tell you to go back to bed instead of starting chores, and you are too curious. Very well. Pa is going to pay the British. The other men are going along to protest. Now go get some rest.”

“But Ma… if Pa is going, I want to go too.”

“No, that would be too dangerous. He doesn’t want you to draw any more attention to yourself than you did yesterday, speaking out of turn. Children are to be seen and not heard,” she reproved.

“All right, after I go to the privy.”

Bill opened the latch on the door, shoved it open, and stepped out into the frosty morning. In case Ma was watching, he moved toward the privy, entered, and waited a minute, holding his nose. When he came out, he went to the workshop, flitting from tree to tree. He got his work coat that he kept on a peg there, and again climbed to the loft where he could observe. The men were talking too quietly to hear, but he saw that their faces were smudged with soot and bootblack, making it difficult to see who was who.

He recognized Pa and saw the wagon off to the side that they used for deliveries, hitched, and ready to go. He quickly climbed down, went to the stove, and used ashes from the bin to obscure his face, just as the older men had done. Then he looked, saw the men occupied, and ran to the back of the wagon. He hopped in and covered himself with a tarp so that no one would notice him.

He wanted to peek out but forced himself to lie still. Whatever Pa was going to do, Bill wanted to be there.

After what seemed an hour, when his toes were going numb, he felt the wagon lurch and begin to move. Looking out the back, a line of horses, buggies, and wagons followed, like some equine caterpillar with twenty legs following after Pa. Why would all these men come, just to watch Pa pay a fine?

A bump and hard jolt made him bang his head on the wagon bottom, and he bit his lip to keep from crying out in pain.

Eventually, the wagon rolled to a stop. Bill lifted the tarp just an inch to see out and waited until the other wagons grouped around them. They were in front of a house. When the other men had dismounted and gathered around Pa, he slipped out the back, onto the new-fallen snow, and took up a post behind a nearby tree.

Ebenezer pounded on the door, then wrenched it open, breaking the latch. The men boiled through the entrance into the house. Bill thought, no one is going to mind me, since they don’t know I am here. If I stand just inside, I can see and hear. If something happens to Pa, I can take word home.

Bill saw Sheriff Whiting, still in his nightclothes.

“Here, what’s all this? Who are you? By the King’s wig, what’s the meaning of this?”

“We’re here to pay King Georgie his fines and taxes,” said one.

“Very well, but you needn’t break-in, and you could have waited until after breakfast.”

“Oh, we’re very prompt to give the King and his servants their due.”

The men crowded closer, raising clubs.

Whiting blanched and moved backward to the wall, grabbing a brace of pistols from a hook. “Stand back, or I will shoot!” He aimed the pistol squarely at Ebenezer’s chest. Bill feared for his Pa and grabbed an iron from the nearby stove. In confusion, he raced behind the men up the stairway, to where he stood above the Sheriff. Whiting cocked the pistol. Bill dropped the hot iron, aimed to strike the pistol or chest of the Sheriff, who yelled and dropped the pistol in surprise and pain.

The men surged forward, seizing the Sheriff, and tying his hands behind his back. They ripped open the back of his shirt, and bent him over a table, clubbing and whipping him until he cried for mercy.

“Take that payment to King George and the governor, if you will. Tell Wentworth that if he comes, we’ll do the same to him. We’ll not tolerate the tyranny of the King any longer. True Englishmen know their rights. If he does not, then we must teach him.”

Bill crept back down the stairs and again stood near the door. One of the men turned, went to the stables and saddled a horse for the Sheriff. He clipped the mane and tail of the horse, making him look a very sorry beast. They propelled the Sheriff toward the door. But Bill wasn’t quick enough – Ebenezer and the Sheriff saw him at the same time.

“So this is the kind of brigands you are! You even bring a child into your devilry!”

The Sheriff looked more closely at Ebenezer. “You must be Mudgett, who was bringing the fine today – and this must be your boy. I’ll mark it well!”

“If you don’t get on that horse and ride far away, we’ll mark you again!” yelled one of the men.

Whiting mounted with help and whirled the horse out of the yard.

Pa turned his attention to Bill. “I don’t know whether to thrash you or hug you. It was a near thing in there, and you saved us all from bloodshed. But you should have stayed home. Now that you and I are recognized, we’re in danger. Let’s make haste for home, and pray about what to do.”

If you enjoyed this, and would like to be notified when the full novel is published, please visit http://www.historicalnovelsrus.com/contact and sign up for my newsletter. – Michael Ross


Happy 277th Birthday, Dr. Joseph Warren

“Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”

~~ Dr. Joseph Warren (from his 1775 Boston Massacre Oration)

President Ronald Reagan quoted these words in his 1981 presidential inaugural address. Like the patriots of colonial America, Reagan was inspired by Dr. Joseph Warren’s determination, fortitude, and passion. Without Joseph’s influence and actions, this nation may not have been born.

Joseph Warren was a Boston physician who cared for rich and poor, American and English, free and slave. He was deeply involved with his fellow patriots, Sons of Liberty, and masonic lodge brothers: John Adams, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere—to name a few.

Dr. Joseph Warren

In April 1775, Joseph was elected president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and the Committee of Safety, to replace the absent John Hancock. With little money or resources, he was faced with the challenges of a rapidly evolving revolutionary political and military climate. He was a tireless devoted leader who responded to each new challenge with intelligence and courage.

He held the American rebellion together during the critical months (April – June 1775) that spanned the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. Those collective months were his swan song.

If he had lived, he may have outshined all the Founding Fathers. Loyalist Peter Oliver surmised in 1782 that if Warren had lived, George Washington would have been “an obscurity.” But, the imminent grief of Joseph’s death eased, and his dazzling light dimmed.

Joseph Warren was born on June 11, 1741. The eldest of four boys–Samuel, Ebenezer, and John–Joseph grew up outside of Boston on the Warren family farm in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The Warren farm produced a distinctive kind of apple called Warren or Roxbury Russet. The senior Joseph Warren turning his eye upon his eldest son Joseph said, “I would rather a son of mine were dead, than a coward.” It would prove to be a prophetic statement.

By age fourteen, Joseph was attending Harvard. In October 1755, while working in the orchard, his father died after a fall from a ladder. Suddenly, Joseph was the head of the household, and it was a responsibility he took to heart.

Due to the generosity of the community, he was able to continue his studies at Harvard, where he became interested in medicine. Joseph learned the prevailing humeral approach to disease. Ancient Greek and Roman medicine ascribed diseases to imbalances in the humors; the four distinctive attributes of living organisms: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. As a physician, Joseph would have prescribed and prepared herbal medications to return the bodily humors to balance, and thus, cure the patient’s affliction.

Upon graduation, as repayment for the community’s sponsorship at Harvard, Joseph taught public grammar school at the Roxbury Latin school. After that year long stint, he was free to pursue his profession as a doctor.

During a time when a layman could practice medicine, Joseph was a passionate proponent of disciplined medical education. When a colleague, Dr. Thomas Young, prescribed a treatment for tuberculosis that resulted in the patient’s death, Joseph’s quill flew. With sardonic humor and under the pen name, Philo Physic, he carried on a ruthless debate with Dr. Young in the newspapers.

In early 1764, a smallpox epidemic swept Boston and the surrounding areas. Joseph went to work for the physicians’ initiative for community wide inoculation at Castle William, a fort and smallpox hospital just south of Boston. The doctors administered inoculations, and worked on case reporting and quarantine measures. It is here where Joseph met John Adams who had come to be inoculated.


The following year, Joseph wrote articles calling for the establishment of an organization of Massachusetts physicians (the Massachusetts Medical Society would be established in 1782 by Joseph’s youngest brother John).

As a woman, I find descriptions of Joseph’s beauty and mannerisms alluring. His elegance was also apparent to men.

Richard Frothingham, in his 1865 text on the Life and Times of Joseph Warren, amply describes Warren, whose sandy blonde hair and gentle complexion was considered, especially by the ladies, as being quite handsome.

“He had a graceful figure, was scrupulously neat in his person, of thorough culture, and had an elegant address; and these traits rendered him a welcome visitor in polite circles, while a frank and genial manner made him a general favorite.  He had a great love for his fellow man; and being a stranger to the passion of avarice, and even neglectful to a fault in pecuniary matters, he had an ear ever open to the claims of want, and a hand ever extended to afford relief.” [1]

John Adams wrote in a letter dated July 29, 1775, shortly after Joseph’s death:  “Warren was a young man whom nature had adorned with grace and manly beauty, and a courage that would have been rash absurdity, had it not been tempered by self-control.” [2]

Joseph’s religious roots were Puritan, and his writings reveal his passionate use of religious allegories coupled with erotic metaphors. His 1772 and 1775 Boston Massacre Orations are filled with such references. How did his religious beliefs influence his associations with women?

Joseph married seventeen-year-old orphaned heiress, Elizabeth Hooton, in September 1764. She was probably pregnant when the couple married. Their first child, Elizabeth “Betsey”, was born sometime in March 1765. The marriage appeared to have been, at least in the beginning, little more than a union of convenience. The couple went on to have three more children: Joseph, Richard, and Mary.

No authentic records of Elizabeth’s thoughts, beliefs, or life with Joseph exists. Her portrait lacks adornments–jewelry, hairdressing, a book, a favorite pet–to suggest her personal tastes. Elizabeth died on April 26, 1773. (Paul Revere’s wife, Sarah, died a few weeks later.)

Elizabeth Hooton Warren

The only accounts of Joseph’s thoughts on his wife were written following her death. On her passing, Joseph wrote:

Aetherial Spirits see the S[y]stem’s right, But mortal Minds demand a clearer Sight, In Spight of Reason’s philosophic Art, A tear must fall to indicate the Heart.[4] 

After Elizabeth’s death, Mercy Scollay cared for his children and became a member of the Warren household. Mercy was said to be Joseph’s intellectual equal. She was certainly articulate in her writings. Lore suggests she was Joseph’s fiancee at the time of his death. There is no documented evidence of that engagement.

After Joseph’s death, his youngest brother, Dr. John Warren, eventually got custody of the children. Their welfare remained in dire straits until 1778 when General Benedict Arnold (who had befriended Joseph at Cambridge) gave $500 for their education and petitioned Congress for the amount of a major general’s half pay for their welfare until the youngest reached majority.

Joseph’s biographer, Dr. Samuel Forman wrote that Joseph was “dismissive of women”. [3] Yet, history tells the tale of a handsome young doctor whose female patients feigned continuing illnesses as a ploy for Dr. Warren’s lingering attentions.


Joseph was too occupied with establishing his medical practice, a smallpox epidemic, attempts to organize a province medical society, and his new life as a husband and soon-to-be father to notice the growing colonial despair over the acts of the British parliament. Then, parliament passed the Stamp Act on March 22, 1765. The new tax was imposed on all American colonists and required them to pay a tax on every piece of printed paper they used. Joseph went from a young independent physician to a committed radical Whig and Son of Liberty insider.

Enter Joseph’s political mentor, the much older, Samuel Adams. Their budding interaction was to mature into one of the most significant of their lives and of the patriot movement.

Joseph’s first successful strategic battle was an initiative to resolve a Boston dispute between his masonic lodge, St. Andrew’s Lodge of the Ancients, and the exclusionary and privileged English St. John’s Grand Lodge of the Moderns. The members of St. John’s refused to allow the inclusion of St. Andrew’s “common folk” into their masonic celebrations and rituals. One can imagine Joseph leaning in close to his fellow St. Andrew’s lodge members, Paul Revere and John Hancock, and with a smile, saying, “Screw this. We will procure our own Grand Lodge charter.”

A committee headed by Joseph, by-passed England and applied to Scotland for St. Andrew’s chartering as a Grand Lodge. The application was granted, and the commission establishing a new Grand Lodge of the Ancients with Joseph as its Grand Master was dated May 30, 1769. Now, St. John’s and St. Andrew’s Masonic lodges were on even ground.

I adjourn our visit with Joseph Warren’s life until June 17, when we will follow him to Bunker Hill.

Battle of Bunker Hill


Frothingham, Richard.  Life and Times of Joseph Warren.  1865:  Little Brown & Company, New York, NY.

Forman, Samuel A.  Dr. Joseph Warren, The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of  American Liberty.  2012:  Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, Louisiana.

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

http://www.revolutionarywarjournal.com/warren/#more-519; Revolutionary War Journal 2017

Warren, M.D., Edward. The Life of John Warren, M.D. Surgeon-General During The War Of The Revolution; First Professor Of Anatomy And Surgery In Harvard College; President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, Etc. 1874: Noyles, Holmes, and Company, Boston

Painting of Joseph Warren by John Singleton Copley, 1765. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Painting of Elizabeth Hooton Warren by John Singleton Copley, 1772. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Painting of Margaret Gage in the Turquerie style, circa 1771, by John Singleton Copley. Timken Museum of Art in San Diego, California.

Image of the Battle of Bunker Hill by Winthrop Chandler, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

[1] (Frothingham, pg 19)

[2] http://www.revolutionarywarjournal.com/warren/#more-519

[3] (Forman, pg 191)

[4] (Forman, pg 183)

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.

Angels & Patriots Book One


20 Quotes from George Washington and His Generals


General George Washington

“Remember officers and soldiers that you are free men, fighting for the blessings of liberty.”

George Washington
George Washington



General Benedict Arnold

What do you think would be my fate if my misguided countrymen were to take me prisoner?”

benedict arnold
Benedict Arnold


General John Cadwalader

“General Howe is certainly gone to New York, unless the whole is a scheme to amuse and surprise.”

John Cadwalader


General Thomas Conway

“Heaven has been determined to save your Country, or a weak General and bad Councellors would have ruined it.”

Thomas Conway


General Christopher Gadsden

“What I can do for my country, I am willing to do.”

Christopher Gadsden


General Horatio Gates 

“If Old England is not by this lesson taught humility, then she is an obstinate old slut, bent upon her ruin.”

Horatio Gates


General Nathanael Greene 

“We fight, get beat, rise and fight again.”

Nathanael Greene


General William Heath

“I have never been afraid of the force of the enemy. They must be well watched. They, like the Frenchman, look one way and row the other.”

William Heath


General Johann De Kalb 

“I thank you for your sympathy – I die the death I always prayed for – the death of a soldier fighting for the rights of man.”  

Johann De Kalb


General Henry Knox

“We want great men who, when fortune frowns, will not be discouraged.”

Henry Knox


General Marquis de Lafayette 

“I am persuaded that the human race was created to be free and that I was born to serve that cause.”

Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette


General Charles Lee

“I…lament with you that fatal indecision of mind which in war is a much greater disqualification than stupidity…”

Charles Lee


General Benjamin Lincoln 

We must have black troops, and a limitless number of them too – paid and treated like their white brothers.”

Benjamin Lincoln


General Hugh Mercer

“For my part I have but one object in view, and that is the success of the cause. God can witness how cheerfully I would lay down my life to secure it!”

Hugh Mercer


General Thomas Mifflin

“There can be no right to power, except what is either founded upon, or speedily obtains the hearty consent of the body of the people.”

Thomas Mifflin


General Richard Montgomery

“I shall endeavour to discharge my duty to society, considering myself only as the citizen, moved by the melancholy necessity of taking up arms for the public safety.”

Richard Montgomery
Richard Montgomery


General Philip Schuyler

“I have done all that could be done, as far as the means were in my power, to injure the enemy and to inspire confidence in the soldiers of our army.”

Philip Schuyler


General John Stark

“Live Free Or Die; Death Is Not The Worst Of Evils.”

John Stark
John Stark


General Freidrich von Steuben

“With regard to military discipline, I may safely say that no such thing existed in the Continental Army.”

Freidrich von Steuben


General Anthony Wayne

“Issue the orders Sir, and I will storm Hell.”

Anthony Wayne
Anthony Wayne



** Featured Image “George Washington and his Generals” painted by Jane Sutherland.

My award-winning historical fantasy book series:

Angels & Patriots Book One. Sons of Liberty, Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill is available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle eBook, or read for free on Kindle Unlimited. Angels & Patriots Book One

Angels & Patriots Book Two. The Cause of 1776 is available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle eBook, or read for free on Kindle Unlimited. Angels & Patriots Book Two

John Adams’ and Joseph Warren’s Last Correspondence

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 2012 biographer 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

Dear Sir

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.   

Joseph Warren

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

Dr Sir

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, 

John Adams

 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.

Angels & Patriots Book One


From Life to Legend: Dr. Joseph Warren 1741 – 1775

“Even in this unfortunate event he has served his country, for he has taught the sons of Freedom in America, that the laurel may be engrafted upon the cypress, and that true glory may be acquired not only in the arms of victory, but in the arms of death.” ~~ A eulogy for Joseph Warren published in Philadelphia; 1775 (author unknown).

The Day: perhaps the decisive day is come on which the fate of American depends. My bursting heart must find vent at my pen. I have just heard that our dear friend Dr. Warren is no more but fell gloriously fighting for his country-saying better to die honourably in the field than ignominiously hang upon the gallows. Great is our loss…and the tears of multitudes pay tribute to his memory… ~~Abigail Adams in a letter to her husband, John Adams: June 1775

On June 11, we celebrated Dr. Joseph Warren’s 276th birthday. Happy 277th Birthday Dr. Joseph Warren  Today, June 17 is the 242nd anniversary of his death at Bunker Hill.

For this tribute, we will join Joseph Warren in the months that comprised his swan song: April – June 1775.

In early April 1775, after the adjournment of the Provincial Congress in Concord, John Hancock and Samuel Adams didn’t return to Boston for fear they would be arrested or hung. Instead, the two leaders of the American rebellion, sheltered at the home of Reverend Jonas Clarke in Lexington.

Hancock-Clarke House in Lexington, MA

Joseph ran a spy ring for the Sons of Liberty out of his home medical office. On the evening of April 18, he received word from one of his informants that, under orders from British General Thomas Gage, troops were assembling on the shore of Back Bay. Gage’s troops were readying to march to Concord, where a stockpile of rebel armaments was stored.

Joseph knew the armaments in Concord had been well-hidden or moved in early April; therefore, weapons were not his primary concern. He feared for John Hancock’s and Samuel Adams’ lives if the British discovered them hiding in Lexington. Joseph summoned Paul Revere and William Dawes to his home on Hanover Street in Boston, and then dispatched them to warn Hancock and Adams, and the countryside that the British regulars were out.

On the morning of April 19, Joseph received news of fighting in Lexington. He slipped out of Boston, and made his way to Menotomy to attend a Committee of Safety meeting. During the meeting, messengers came and went, delivering the latest news.

Afterward, Joseph fought alongside General William Heath. Heath and his men fired on the British as they retreated to Boston along what is now called Battle Road. Joseph was nearly killed when a musket ball hit a pin in his hair.

Despite his unabashed courage, Joseph knew the gallows awaited him if he returned to Boston. After the battles of Lexington and Concord, he lodged at Hastings House in Cambridge, close to the Provincial Congress and Committee of Safety meetings.  With John Hancock and Samuel Adams soon to depart for the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Joseph had emerged as the de facto leader of what a militia captain described as “the intended revolution”. [1]

On April 20, under the auspices of the Committee of Safety, Joseph issued a colony-wide, almost threatening, circular letter urging men to enlist in the provincial army. He wrote, “Death and devastation are the instant consequences of delay . . .” [2]

A few weeks later, Joseph was elected to the loftiest political position of the rebellion—president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. As president, he also presided over the Provincial Congress’ various committees.

In late April, Captain Benedict Arnold told Joseph and the Committee of Safety there was a stockpile of aging cannons in the poorly guarded Ft. Ticonderoga. The committee sent Arnold, equipped with two hundred pounds of valuable rebel gunpowder, to confiscate the cannons. It was a portent of what was to come.

benedict arnold
Colonel Benedict Arnold

Several skirmishes erupted between the British and the Americans, leaving the store of rebel gunpowder severely depleted. Joseph, General Artemas Ward, and Moses Gill, the chairman of the Committee of Supplies, sent a plea to New York to send as much gunpowder as they could spare. The supply never arrived.

By June 15, it was clear that the British were about to make a preemptive strike on Roxbury, Dorchester, and Charlestown. Joseph, who now held a major general’s commission, and the Committee of Safety decided that the provincial army must make a preemptive move of their own despite the shortage of gunpowder.

At 9:00 p.m. on Friday, June 16, nearly one thousand provincial soldiers under the command of Colonel William Prescott assembled on the common in Cambridge opposite Hastings House. Joseph was not among them as they marched toward Charlestown. General Israel Putnam and Lieutenant Colonel Richard Gridley, commander of an artillery regiment, joined Colonel Prescott just outside of Charlestown Neck.

Colonel Prescott and his men commenced building a redoubt on the Charlestown peninsula under the cover of night. The Committee of Safety’s order was to build a redoubt on Bunker Hill, but by mistake Prescott and his men built the redoubt on an unnamed (later called Breed’s Hill) hill closer to Boston.

Joseph was nowhere to be found on the morning of June 17. There are speculative reasons for his absence, but what is clear is that Joseph suffered from a sick headache that afternoon. Around 3:00 pm his former medical apprentice, Dr. David Townsend, arrived at Hastings House with the news that the men on Bunker Hill were being fired upon by the British.

After Joseph donned his elegant wedding suit, he and David made their way to Charlestown Neck. David stayed to care for men who had been wounded in the battle. Joseph went on to Bunker Hill. He encountered General Putnam. Putnam relinquished his command to major general Joseph Warren, but Joseph refused saying that his commission was not finalized, and he had come to fight as a volunteer.

Joseph Warren (right) offering to serve General Israel Putnam as a volunteer.

When Joseph entered the redoubt, Colonel Prescott and his 150 exhausted men, raised a cheer of Huzza! Huzza! The sight of their leader joining the fight invigorated them. Like Putnam, Prescott relinquished his command to Joseph, and again Joseph refused saying that he had come to fight as a volunteer.

The rebels had, thus far, repelled the British regulars. What ended the American resistance was neither lack of courage nor unstoppable British resolve. It was the depleted supply of rebel gunpowder. The British regulars, grenadiers, and marines swarmed the redoubt. The rebels tried to make their last stand by swinging their muskets or throwing rocks at the British. Colonel Prescott ordered a retreat.

Joseph was one of the last remaining men in the redoubt. There has been much debate about what happened next. What is known is that Joseph was shot, at close range, in the face just below his left eye, and probably by someone who recognized him.

The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, June 17, 1775 painting by John Trumbull

The British stripped Joseph of his fine clothes, mutilated his body, and buried him in a shallow grave with a farmer. Exactly who and when Joseph’s body was mutilated has been lost to lore.

Joseph’s body wasn’t recovered until after the Siege of Boston ended in March 1776. The corpse was badly decomposed and was identified by a tooth and gold wire Paul Revere made for him.

Joseph Warren shouldn’t have been on the battlefield that day. The people needed him to lead the patriotic movement. They needed him as a friend, brother, and physician. His four children were orphaned.

Dr. Joseph Warren sacrificed his life for liberty, and in doing so, became America’s first martyr. His death encouraged the people of a nation yet to born, to keep fighting despite their grief. It’s what he would have done.


Painting of “The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill” by John Trumbull the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

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

Forman, Samuel A.  Dr. Joseph Warren, The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty.  2012:  Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, Louisiana.

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

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2626357/ Dr. Joseph Warren: leader in medicine, politics, and revolution. George C. Wildrick, MSSM, MBA

[1] (Philbrick pg 163)

[2] (Philbrick pg 163)

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

Angels and Patriots Book One

Lexington and Concord: 7 British Military Blunders

Military campaigns have been marred with blunders since man began the business of organized war. Beyond the strategies, armaments, battles, and aftermath, human error is one of the many fascinating chronicles of a mission. That isn’t to say that courage and determination and grit are not just as fascinating—they are, but for this moment, they are put aside.

There were many British military blunders surrounding the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.  The Royal Governor of Massachusetts, General Thomas Gage planned the mission. He had intelligence that there were rebel armaments in Concord and the mission was to capture the armaments. (He may have learned at the last minute that most of those munitions had been removed from Concord).

thomas gage
General Thomas Gage
  1. General Gage handpicked the companies of light infantrymen and grenadiers from different regiments and placed them under the command of Colonel Francis Smith, with Royal Marine Major John Pitcairn as Smith’s second in command. This had the disadvantage of placing junior officers under the command of superior officers they didn’t know. Likewise, Smith and Pitcairn had no knowledge of their junior officers’ strengths and weaknesses.
  1. General Gage believed he was planning the mission in secrecy
    Colonel Francis Smith

    with only Colonel Francis Smith’s prior knowledge. However, Gage supposedly revealed those orders to General Lord Hugh Percy. Further, Gage’s brother-in-law, Samuel Kemble, was his private secretary, and Kemble may have written Smith’s orders for Gage. There is speculation that Gage’s wife, Margaret, may have learned of the mission and betrayed that information to Joseph Warren, which would have spurred Warren to send Paul Revere and William Dawes to issue the warning that the regulars were out. That is quite another story, and again it is speculative…

  1. The 800 regulars and 70 officers assembled on the shores of Back Bay to cross the Charles River. The crossing was slow. Longboats had to make two trips to ferry the 800 troops to the Cambridge shore. To make matters worse, they were crossing against the incoming tide.

    Map of British Movement
  1. The regulars’ landing point was in the middle of the wetlands of the Cambridge marshes. The men, burdened with the weight of their uniforms and equipment, had to slog through the knee-deep waters of the marshes.
  1. Four hours after their initial departure from Back Bay, Smith’s regulars were marching the road to Lexington. The country folk were raising alarms and some were shooting at the regulars. Smith sent an appeal to General Gage for reinforcements.

    Lord Hugh Percy

The troops of the First Brigade should have been at the ready to march at a moment’s notice. However, they were asleep and had to be roused.

As the First Brigade prepared to march, Lord Hugh Percy waited for the battalion of Royal Marines to arrive. Two hours later, the marines had not answered the call. The marines were also asleep because the orders for reinforcements had been sent to Major John Pitcairn’s quarters, and at that moment, Major Pitcairn was marching toward Lexington.

  1. As they entered Lexington, Major John Pitcairn’s troops in the vanguard continued along the road to Concord under the watchful eye of Captain John Parker and the Lexington militia. Then, the vanguard, led by the impetuous Lieutenant Jessie Adair, veered the wrong way at the intersection and marched up Bedford Road toward Captain Parker’s forces. Major Pitcairn and several other officers galloped toward the vanguard shouting at them to halt. In the confusion, a shot rang out.

    The Battle of Lexington
  1. General Gage had ordered Colonel Smith not to plunder or disturb individuals or private property, but Smith’s regulars did just that in Concord and Menotomy (where the heaviest fight of April 19 took place). Those acts served to further anger the colonists.


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.


Lexington and Concord: The Last Days Leading up to a Revolution, Part 2

The violences committed by those who have taken up arms in Massachusetts Bay have appeared to me as the acts of a rude Rabble without plan, without concert, & without conduct, and therefore I think that smaller Force now, if put to the Test, would be able to encounter them with greater probability of Success….. 

….In this view of the situation of the King’s affairs, it is the opinion of the King’s servants, in which his Majesty concurs, that the essential step to be taken toward reestablishing government would be to arrest and imprison the principle actors and abettors in the Provincial Congress (whose proceedings appear in every light to be acts of treason….

~~Lord Dartmouth to General Thomas Gage, about April 16, 1775

lord dartmouth

The Earl of Dartmouth
Secretary of State for the Colonies 1772 – 1775

This was part of Lord Dartmouth’s long awaited, cross-Atlantic response to General Gage’s admonishments, which he had written to Lord Dartmouth in late January 1775, on how to handle the rebellious acts of the colonists. Those defiant acts were seemingly endless: the illegal proceedings of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and the Continental Congress, the Suffolk Resolves, smuggling, seizures of powder and munitions, and threats to march into Boston “like locusts and rid the town of every soldier.” (Philbrick quoting Rev. John Andrews, pg 71)

thomas gage

General Thomas Gage
Royal Governor of Massachusetts 1774 – 1775

General Gage did not consider himself a royalist, but part of his advice to Dartmouth was something he believed the King wanted to hear:

“It’s the opinion of most People, if a respectable Force is seen in the Field, the most obnoxious of the Leaders seized, and a Pardon proclaimed for all other’s, that Government will come off Victorious, and with less Opposition than was expected a few Months ago.”

By the time Lord Dartmouth’s lengthy letter of advice reached Thomas Gage, tempers among the British ministry, the loyalists, and the patriots in Massachusetts had simmered down. In fact at this point, there was growing discord among the patriots’ own ranks, rooted in a misguided optimism that once King George III saw for himself that his ministers had misled him, the king would withdrawal his troops and the demand for unfair taxes would withdraw with them, leaving New England free. That optimism was founded in the colonists’ previous experiences with protests and the king’s withdrawal of the transgressions.

If Gage had chosen to do nothing in response to Dartmouth’s letter that spring, the patriots may have had a difficult time maintaining a united front. Ironically, Dartmouth’s letter, based on information and instructions months old, arrived around the same time Gage was receiving valuable information from his British spies. Those things came together to lead Gage to make a series of decisions that would change the course of history.

Just as ironically, one of Thomas Gage’s spies was a trusted colleague among the members of the Sons of Liberty and the Provincial Congress: Dr. Benjamin Church.

benjamin church

Dr. Benjamin Church

When it came to rebel secrets and plotting; only Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Joseph Warren were more involved than Benjamin Church. But Benjamin had an expensive mistress, and spying brought the ready cash he needed to please her. He had no qualms about betraying his fellow patriots in exchange for the means to pay for the treasures that lay between the legs of his mistress, Phoebe Yates.

Church, among other spies, assured Gage there was a stockpile of provincial armaments located in Concord. Instead of taking Dartmouth’s advice to arrest the leaders of the Provincial Congress, Thomas Gage focused on securing and destroying the rebel military stores in Concord.


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.


Lexington and Concord: The Last Days Leading up to a Revolution

On April 11, 1775, five days before Lord Dartmouth’s long awaited orders on how to deal with the rebels reached General Thomas Gage via the HMS Falcon, the general’s clandestine patriot informer noted, “A sudden blow struck now or immediately upon the arrival of reinforcements from England would cripple all the rebels’ plans.”

But despite this warning, the rebels already had plans.

The members of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and their president, John Hancock, feared that the sudden rapid decay between England and America would thrust them into war. All those in attendance, including Samuel Adams and Dr. Joseph Warren, recognized the portent and the need for preparedness.

The Committee of Safety put a military command structure in place, incorporating existing militia companies and regiments, and their officers. They promoted six men, of various military abilities, to generals, and tasked them with tightening the local militias in Cambridge and Watertown and Roxbury into a well-trained fighting force.

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Joseph Warren had a rebel intelligence network of tradesmen and skilled workers who frequented the Green Dragon and other Boston taverns. These members of the Sons of Liberty noted British troop movements, ship arrivals and departures, and anything out of the ordinary.

On April 7, the rebels observed longboats being moored under the sterns of British men-of-war in Boston harbor for ready access and concluded that an attack somewhere was imminent. The next day, Paul Revere saddled up to carry a message of alarm to Concord given the stockpiles of munitions and supplies located there, and to the the Committee of Safety of the Provincial Congress, which was now adjourned in Concord.

Joseph Warren did not attend the Committee of Safety sessions held in Concord after April 8. The committee had already laid plans for a watch and couriers to alarm the countryside of suspicious British army movement, and he was well-versed in those plans.

By this time, it was obvious to both John Hancock and Samuel Adams that things had deteriorated with the British to the point that it was not safe for them to return to Boston before setting out for Philadelphia and the Second Continental Congress scheduled to convene on May 10.

john hancock seated

John managed to get word to his aunt, Lydia Hancock, his fiancee, Dorothy Quincy, and his young clerk, John Howell, to leave Boston and refugee to Reverend Jonas Clarke’s house in Lexington. John was very familiar with the Clarke house. It was from that house that he had been spirited away, as a seven-year-old boy, by his uncle and aunt, Thomas and Lydia Hancock, to be raised in the world of Boston business.

samuel adams

Samuel’s wife, Betsy, left their house on Purchase Street in Boston and went to stay in the home of her father in Cambridge. Samuel’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Hannah, his child with his deceased wife, Elizabeth, joined Betsy in Cambridge.


During this time, the widowed Dr. Joseph Warren was making arrangements to refugee his children and their nanny, Mercy Scollay, out of Boston. It is unclear exactly what those arrangements were and whether their destination was Roxbury or Worcester. (His children and Mercy Scollay did eventually refugee to Worcester to the home of Joseph’s colleague Dr. Elijah Dix).

In the meantime, Joseph continued to tend to his patients in Boston, but his friends were concerned for his safety. The young handsome doctor was well-known and very recognizable.


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.

Forman, Samuel A. Dr. Joseph Warren The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty Gretna, Pelican Publishing, Inc, 2012. 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

10 Interesting Facts About the Sons of Liberty and other American Patriots

John Hancock

John Hancock was raised by his uncle and aunt, Thomas and Lydia Hancock, after his father died when John was a boy of seven.

John Adams

John Adams was the defense lawyer for the British soldiers who were put on trial for the Boston Massacre. The soldiers were acquitted.

Dr. Joseph Warren

Dr. Joseph Warren became the situational leader of the patriotic cause. He dispatched Paul Revere and William Dawes to spread the alarm that the British were on the move the night of April 18, 1775.

Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams was the leader of the early American rebellion. He was uninterested in money. He failed as a tax collector and neglected his father’s brewery.

Paul Revere

Paul Revere rode to spread the alarm and deliver news for the Massachusetts Provincial Congress throughout New England on many, many occasions other than the night of April 18, 1775.

Dr. Benjamin Church

Dr. Benjamin Church, a trusted compatriot of the Sons of Liberty, was a spy for British General Thomas Gage.

General Benedict Arnold

Benedict Arnold donated $500 to the education of Dr. Joseph Warren’s children after Warren died at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Israel Putnam

Israel Putnam was the leader of the Connecticut branch of the Sons of Liberty.

No known picture of Dr. Samuel Prescott

Dr. Samuel Prescott was the man who carried the alarm to Concord that the British were on the move, after Paul Revere and William Dawes were detained by a British patrol in the early morning hours of April 19, 1775.

Abigail Adams

Abigail Adams urged her husband, John, to take women’s rights into consideration if and when the colonies gained independence. “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment [promote] a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

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.

Angels and Patriots Book One

Angels & Patriots Book One