“Act Worthy of Yourselves” an Alternate Ending

I wrote the short story “Act Worthy of Yourselves” that asks the question “What if Dr. Joseph Warren had survived Bunker Hill?” as part of the Historical Writers Forum anthology “Alternate Endings” because frankly, Dr. Joseph Warren is the love of my American Revolution life.

This young and largely forgotten patriot is an important character in the first book of my historical fantasy series, Angels and Patriots Book One: Sons of Liberty, Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill. I’ve also have published non-fiction works about Warren including a short piece titled America’s First Martyr in the Military Writers Society of America’s 2021 anthology Untold Stories, numerous blog posts, and three audio clips for a website called Hear About Hear that provides audio clips for historic places. The three audio clips can be heard at Old South Meeting House in Boston, Massachusetts, Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and King’s Chapel in Boston where Warren delivered two Boston Massacre Orations (1772 & 1775), was killed at age 34 at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, and the chapel where his funeral was held, respectively.

Dr. Joseph Warren

Warren was a Boston physician, Son of Liberty, politician, orator, masonic Grand Master, president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and a major general. He was a member of the Sons of Liberty, a group of political dissidents formed in Boston to protest King George III and Parliament’s taxation and control of colonial authority. Their protests against the Mother country’s sudden subjugation after more than a century of autonomy, proliferated in the America colonies in the 1760s. Some of their famous members were Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams. John Adams, a Massachusetts lawyer and politician was not a Son of Liberty, but he was a sympathizer.

It was Joseph Warren who sent Paul Revere, along with William Dawes, on that ride to warn the countryside that the British regulars were out of Boston and on the march looking for rebel munitions on the night of April 18, 1775. He was holding the rebellion together in Massachusetts during the spring of 1775 while Samuel Adams and John Hancock were hiding in Lexington for fear of being hanged by the British for treason.

Through the committees of the Provincial Congress, he tirelessly wrote letters to leaders of other colonies, rallying for the cause, asking for help, and pressing them for their responsibilities in the rebellion against Britain. He gathered militia, supplies, and directed the provincial army who conducted the siege of Boston on the British in that town after the first shots of the war were fired in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775.

His death at the Battle of Bunker Hill was widely lamented by his friends and patients such as Abigail Adams, John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, patriots who fought alongside Warren on that fateful day and as far reaching as Philadelphia and the southern colonies. His death, early in the war, served to leave him in obscurity. He deserves to be known for everything he did in the infancy of the American Revolution to promote freedom and liberty. So the questions is “what if Joseph Warren had survived Bunker Hill?” Where would he have stood among the American Founding Fathers, many of whom were his fellows long before the rest of the world had heard their names.

One last very important comment. 

Under the tutelage and permission of the Dr. Joseph Warren Foundation and their operations director J Hart (with whom I will be doing further work), I’m thrilled to announce that the foundation is producing a docudrama about Joseph Warren with a target release date of 2025. This is the trailer narrated by Christian di Spigna author of the biography Founding Martyr.

 You can help preserve the legacy of Joseph Warren by supporting the Foundation, giving to the cause, and spreading the word. Huzzah!


My share of royalties will go to the Dr. Joseph Warren Foundation an organization dedicated to educating the public about his life & contributions to the American Revolution. 

I hope you enjoy my short story “Act Worthy of Yourselves” in our anthology as much as I enjoyed writing it! Available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. Click the cover to get your copy!


Virginia Crow
Cathie Dunn
Sharon Bennett Connolly
Karen Heenan
Samantha Wilcoxson
Michael Ross
Salina B Baker
Elizabeth Corbett


Alternate Endings: The Lure of Dr. Joseph Warren

I was asked what inspired me to write the short story “Act Worthy of Yourselves” as part of the Historical Writers Forum anthology “alternate endings” a collection of short stories by a group of eight talented historical writers who each have their own story that asks the question, what if an historical event was altered and changed the course of history?

My story asks, “What if Dr. Joseph Warren had survived the Battle of Bunker Hill?” one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution fought on the Charlestown peninsula northeast of Boston on June 17,1775. The title “Act Worthy of Yourselves” is a line from Warren’s Boston Massacre Oration which he delivered at Old South Meeting House in Boston on March 6, 1775 to a crowd so large that he was forced to climb through the window behind the pulpit to avoid being crushed.

This post is part of our blog hop tour for “alternate endings.”

In 2015, I was searching for the topic of my next book. I had written two standalone novels set in Victorian America and I wanted to pursue something historically different. I asked myself how much I knew about the American Civil War as that was the first love of my historical life. But it was set in the same time period and I realized I needed to move to a different era. I did know quite a bit about the American Revolution and Colonial America and decided I was willing to put my effort into learning more.

Where to start? Ah, yes. Why not start with the obvious—the Sons of Liberty, a group of political dissidents formed in Boston to protest King George III and Parliament’s taxation and control of colonial authority. Their protests against the Mother country’s sudden subjugation after more than a century of autonomy, proliferated in the America colonies in the 1760s. Who did I know that belonged to the Sons of Liberty? Why Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams their ringleader, of course. John Adams, a Massachusetts lawyer and politician was not a Son of Liberty, but he was a sympathizer. Boston was already militarily occupied in response to acts of what the King considered disobedience.

My research immediately led me to a list of Massachusetts Sons of Liberty and among them was a handsome, young doctor named Joseph Warren. It was love at first sight. I could not get enough of who he was, what he did, his growth as a man, politician, orator, leader, and masonic Grand Master. He apprenticed under Loyalist Dr. James Lloyd and medically treated people from all walks of life. The rising Patriot admiration for him and his efforts for the Patriot cause could not be ignored nor the threat he posed to the British, who in the end, were pleased to see he and his sedition put to death on a battlefield.

Dr. Joseph Warren circa 1764 by John Singleton Copley

I had read the poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow when I was in sixth grade and it always stuck with me. Imagine my delight when I found out that Joseph Warren was the guy who sent Paul Revere, along with William Dawes, on that ride to warn the countryside that the British regulars were out of Boston and on the march looking for rebel munitions on the night of April 18, 1775.  That it was Joseph Warren who was holding the rebellion together in Massachusetts during the spring of 1775 while Samuel Adams and John Hancock were hiding in Lexington for fear of being hanged by the British for treason. During the time many of his colleagues including Adams and Hancock attended the second Continental Congress in Philadelphia in late spring 1775, he became president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress.

Warren tended to be dauntless, storming into a situation without thought for personal risk. John Adams once said, “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.” 

Then, there was the tragedy of Warren’s personal life. His wife died at age 26, leaving him a widower with four children under age eight. When he was killed at age 34 at the Battle of Bunker Hill his children were orphaned.

So Joseph Warren rose as a shining star in my novel “Angels and Patriots Book One: Sons of Liberty, Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill.” Because the series is historical fantasy, my main character is an archangel with the human name Colm Bohannon. How much farther can you elevate someone than have a man and an archangel become friends and learn love and loyalty from one another? Not much. How much do you weep when you know how it historically ended?

As I wrote, I began to share facts about Joseph Warren and I found that he is adored and even worshipped among history and American Revolutionary War enthusiasts and authors. For years, the question that came up was and always has been, “What if Joseph Warren had survived Bunker Hill?” This ubiquitous and charismatic leader took the reins of the rebellion politically and militarily and accepted a provincial generalship on the day the American Continental Army was formed, June 14, 1775—three days before his death.

There were many questions on my mind and on the mind of others.

*If he had survived, how would General George Washington have received him? Or perhaps Washington would have relinquished his appointment as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and recommended Warren in his stead?

*Would Warren have been one of the greatest tactical or strategic generals of the war?

*Would his concern for civilians taken him in a political direction?

*What about his medical practice and experience? Would he have benefited the Continental Army with his expertise?

*Would he have stayed behind to see to matters in Massachusetts? Or gone on to preside over the Continental Congress, the civilian governing body during the war?

*Would he have discovered great medical break throughs?

*How would his life and his children’s lives unfolded during and beyond the war?

*How far would he have reached for the stars while a new nation was rising?

As an author and person who came to adore Dr. Joseph Warren but not blind to his faults, I couldn’t let these burning questions pass me by when the opportunity arose to write an alternate ending to his life. If only for this moment, in this anthology, he is given another chance. Perhaps others who have asked the same question will agree with how I see it. Perhaps not. Nevertheless, I know people who know who Joseph Warren was will want to read it and share in their opinions. For those who don’t know who he was, the story I wrote is based in fact and I didn’t change the outcome of the Revolutionary War.

Dr. Joseph Warren’s name is not a household word like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams or Thomas Jefferson. His premature death saw to that. Beyond my own novel, if I can raise awareness of his accomplishments through a historical alternate ending, I will be satisfied that I tried.

One other person who I should mention that is part of the story is Joseph’s youngest brother, Dr. John Warren. His name and extraordinary medical accomplishments are lesser known than those of his brother’s. John’s part in this story is based in fact. I assure you will be surprised and impressed.

Dr. John Warren circa 1806 by Rembrandt Peale


I hope you enjoy our anthology as much as we have enjoyed writing it! Available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. Click the cover to get your copy!


Virginia Crow
Cathie Dunn
Sharon Bennett Connolly
Karen Heenan
Samantha Wilcoxson
Michael Ross
Salina B Baker
Elizabeth Corbett

My share of royalties will go to the Dr. Joseph Warren Foundation an organization dedicated to educating the public about his life & contributions to the American Revolution. 



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


Interview With The Archangel

Today, we are thrilled to introduce someone whom we have been trying to speak to for quite some time, Archangel Colm Bohannon. It is an unprecedented occasion to meet an archangel here on Earth and one who fought in the American Revolution. To soothe his impatience, we have provided rum and agreed to refrain from asking him about his youngest archangel brother, Lucifer.

Me: Hello, Mr. Bohannon. Thank you for joining us today.

Colm: I don’t understand the human purpose of apologies or gratitude, so get on with it.

Me: Please, oh, I guess you don’t understand the purpose of polite requests either. What is that silver and green light surrounding you?

Colm: The green light is the color of my angelic spirit. All angels have a spiritual color through which we see one another. The silver light is our halo.

Me: Why are you possessing a human vessel?

Colm: I will tell you that story when it is time.

Me: Alright, then tell us about your celestial family.

Colm: (Drinks rum). Must I?


Colm: (Heaves a sigh). My father, God, and my archangel brothers see me as an abomination, but if you insist. I am the fifth archangel of seven. My celestial name is Sariel. My four older brothers are Michael, Raphael, Gabriel, and Uriel. My two younger brothers are Ezekiel and Lucifer. However, I am a brother to all angels who our father created.

Me: Why did God create the archangels?

Colm: We were created to be the most powerful beings in the universe besides our father. We each had certain divinities that changed over time as our heavenly orientations changed. When God created the children of man, we were tasked with being preceptors and beholders of those things which mankind does not understand.

(Drinks more rum) I was once the archangel of Divine Visions. That was at a time when the children of man were unaware of their creator. It was my task to make them aware. I had no idea how to conjure divine visions. It had never been done before. This was thousands and thousands of years before what the children of man consider The Calling of Abraham. I had no guidance and no example and in my attempt, my power killed many of them before I realized what was happening.

Me: But there is more isn’t there?

Colm: (Flutters his wings) Later, I was considered the angel of death, because at one time, I escorted human souls to Heaven after they died. That was before Lucifer fell, and the archangels became God’s warriors against Hell’s demons. After Lucifer fell and God created reapers, my divinity changed. I escorted souls to their egress when the body died, summoned reapers, and told them where God wanted them to take souls instead of doing it myself. God assigned a brotherhood of eight angels to me so I could teach them the same. Then, I was entrusted to shepherd the Grigori angels, the Watchers Angels, but they learned human lust, acted on that lust, and I did nothing to stop them because I didn’t know by what means, short of destroying them.

Me: Who are the angels who belong to your brotherhood?

Colm: Their human vessels’ names are Fergus Driscoll, Seamus Cullen, Brandon O’Flynn, Ian Keogh, Liam Kavanagh, Michael Bohannon, and Patrick Cullen.

Me: Why does your father and older brothers see you as an abomination?

Colm: It is a long story that began millenniums ago. Three of my brotherhood, Ian, Michael, and Seamus learned lust from the Grigori angels and created what was forbidden— the Nephilim, the children of human women and angels. The rest of us tried to stop them. We were all found guilty and banished from Heaven.

Me: You were all willing to accept punishment?

Colm: Aye. We’re a brotherhood who love each other.

Me: Where did you go after you were banished?

Colm: In his anger over what we had done, God created demons from his wrath to kill us. He also summoned the Flood of Noah to kill the Nephilim living with their mothers on Earth.

Me: Oh my. Is that when you came here?

Colm: (Flashes his eyes) No. We raced through the universe in a desperate attempt to elude our executioners. I tried to protect my brotherhood because I was the only one of us with the power to destroy not only a demon, but the demons’ leader.

Me: Did I just see silver light flash in your eyes?

Colm: Aye. It’s my way of tempering you.

Me: Was I out of line with my questioning?

Colm: Not yet. It was just a warning. All the archangels were created with the ability just as we were endowed with the ability to destroy using our golden radiance that is a part of our spirit.

Me: Thank you for…uh…I have been dually warned. May I ask about your journey to Earth?

Colm: A company of eight Irish men died fighting the Normans in Wexford, Ireland on the night of May 1, 1169. They were defending their cog, the LE ‘Eithne. They drown when it sank. We took their human vessels to confuse the demons and give us time to rest.

Me: Therefore, you don’t possess a living human.

Colm: Angels can’t possess the living. Our spiritual power and immortality is too great for them to contain.

Me: Did the ruse work?

Colm: By 1314, the demons’ leader realized what we had done. He and his army of demonic spirits went to Scotland to the scene of the Battle of Bannockburn where the Scottish king, Robert the Bruce, clashed with the English king, Edward II. There were many human vessels to be had as the soldiers died on the battlefield. The demon leader possessed the body of an English knight, Sir Henry de Bohun, a man Robert the Bruce killed in the battle. Wearing their new vessels, Henry and his army continued their ruthless pursuit. By 1575, we were tiring again.

Me: I noticed that one of your angels has the same last name as you—Bohannon.

Colm: The company of dead Irish men were led by the man Colm Bohannon. Michael was Colm’s little brother. The same for Seamus Cullen. He also had a little brother among the dead, Patrick Cullen. The human link between us and them still remains. It is our palimpsests, shadows of memories that belonged to the souls of our human vessels showing through to the present. They can be frightening and impossible to control. Fergus and Ian, however, don’t possess a palimpsest.

Me: Where did you go to rest in 1575?

Colm: We took a ship from England to Virginia in America. We found sanctuary in a place over the Appalachian Mountains that was later called Burkes Garden. We were there for two hundred years before we began to suspect that the demons were in Boston, Massachusetts.

Me: May I see your wings?

Colm: (Rises slowly and unfurls his imperial silver wings that touch the floor, the ceiling, and sweep over my face and body. Silver crystals rain down from them like glittering hail and gather on the floor and against the walls.)

Me: (I feel my breath leave my body and restrain my urge to fall to my knees in reverence.)

Colm: (Furls his wings into a volute and they disappear.)

Me: (I’ve forgotten my next question.) Oh yes. How did you begin fighting for the Patriots in the American Revolution?

Colm: We suspected that the demon leader had possessed a general in the British army. We went to Boston to warn the Sons of Liberty—John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Dr. Joseph Warren of the possibility. We felt it our duty to protect them if that was the case especially if war broke out between the colonies and Great Britain. Our suspicions were correct. The demon was possessing General Henry Hereford who arrived in Boston from London soon after we did in January 1775. War broke out four months later in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.

Me: Tell me about some of your human friends.

Colm: We call them the children of man, by the way as we are called the sons of God. Jeremiah Killam is our closest friend who we met in Burkes Garden when he was only five years old. Dr. Joseph Warren, a leading Son of Liberty, taught me what it meant to love a child of man unconditionally. What happened to him and my failure to protect him and stop it is my greatest shame. Of course, there is also Abe Rowlinson who was among the patriots firing on the British when they were retreating from Concord to Boston.

Me: I have been told you had General George Washington’s ear. Is this true?

Colm: I don’t know if I had his ear. He and I became very close and constantly conferred during the war.

Me: Did you or some of your angels hold rank in the Continental Army?

Colm: I refused rank, but Fergus Driscoll achieved the rank of major general. Brandon O’Flynn rose to a colonel in the artillery corps under General Henry Knox, and Ian Keogh was commissioned a lieutenant, also under Knox.

Me: Were the children of man afraid of you at first?

Colm: Yes and no. They had never seen angels on Earth. Many of them mistook me for God. Later, as the war wore on and they became used to our presence, we were considered the gift of Providence to the American cause for independence.

Me: Tell us more about the angels in your brotherhood and their role in their Heavenly duties and the war itself.

Colm: They are soothers and beholders. They fulfilled that divinity throughout the war. The rest of our time with the children of man, and the hardships we endured as angels unaccustomed to the noise of human society and emotions, is written. You will have to read the narrative in the series of books called Angels and Patriots. There you will find the words that describe our time among you and the lessons we learned from you.

Me: One last question. How did you elude the demons?

Colm: You will have to read the books, but I will tell you that demons were not the only hounds God unleashed upon us.

Me: Thank you for your time today. Perhaps one day you will learn the purpose of gratitude.

Colm: I don’t think so. However, there is one last thing to consider. Human emotions can change everything. Angelic emotions can destroy the world.

Rebels, Heroes, Patriots, and Legends. The multiple award winning Angels and Patriots saga is the mutual pursuit of liberty, the meaning of loyalty, and the virtue of the ultimate sacrifice during the American Revolution.

    • Angels and Patriots Book One: Sons of Liberty, Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill
    • Angels and Patriots Book Two: The Cause of 1776
    • Angels and Patriots Book Three: The Year of the Hangman
    • Angels and Patriots Book Four: The Hand of Providence and The Brotherhood’s Sword

*Amazon US: Series Available in paperback, Kindle eBook or Kindle Unlimited. Angels & Patriots Book Series

*Amazon UK: Series Available in paperback, Kindle eBook or Kindle Unlimited. Angels & Patriots Book Series

  • Independent Press Award, Historical Fiction, Winner
  • Independent Press Award, Military Fiction, Distinguished Favorite
  • Shelf UnBound Best Indie Book, Notable
  • National Indie Excellence® Awards, Military Fiction, Finalist
  • American Fiction Awards, Fantasy and Military Fiction, Finalist
  • New York City Big Book Awards, Military Fiction, Winner
  • New York City Big Book Awards, Historical Fiction, Distinguished Favorite
  • 2019 New York City Big Book Awards, Military Fiction, Winner
  • 2019 Shelf Unbound, Top 100 Notable Indie Book
  • 2020 Independent Press Award, Military Fiction, Winner
  • 2021 American Fiction Awards, Historical Fantasy, Finalist
  • 2020 Shelf Unbound Top 100 Notable Indie
  • 2021 Independent Press Award, Military Fiction, Distinguished Favorite

Book Review: Martha Washington An American Life

Martha Washington An American Life by Patricia Brady

This is a refreshing and endearing portrait of Martha Washington as few people see her. She was a strong, beautiful, passionate, family-oriented woman, who had a deep loving relationship with both her husbands, Daniel Parke Custis and George Washington. Her graciousness shined and despite her longing to live a quiet private life, she stood by George’s side throughout their marriage. She met the challenges as wife of the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and the first president of the United States.

Martha was born Martha Dandridge on June 2, 1731 on her parent’s plantation, Chestnut Grove, in New Kent County, Virginia. The author, Patricia Brady, describes the places, events, and expectations of the times with a level of detail that gives the reader a clear picture of the things Martha would have done and experienced—domestic, social, political, and religious expectations for a woman who came from a fairly well-to-do family.

Martha married Daniel Parke Custis in 1750, a man twenty years her senior whose father was abusive and controlling. This seemed to be a pattern. George Washington’s mother, Mary, was abusive and controlling, as well. As a reader, this suggests to me that Martha’s capacity for kindness and emotional support may have been one of the things that attracted both Daniel and George.

She and Daniel had four children. The two eldest died as toddlers. Daniel’s sudden death in 1757 left her, at the age of 26, the wealthiest widow in Virginia, with a 17,500 acre estate to manage and two very young children to raise alone: a three-year-old son, Jacky, and a one-year-old daughter, Patsy. This set a precedence. There was no male trustee to control her property. She was independent and free to make her own decisions, and she did so with confidence.

George Washington, whom she married on January 6, 1759, recognized this strength and rarely questioned her decisions while he was away.

The Marriage of George and Martha Washington

In 1773, Patsy died of a seizure at age seventeen. It was terrible blow to Martha, as well as, George, who was a loving stepfather to Patsy and Jacky (Martha and George had no children of their own). Seven years later during the Siege of Yorktown, she would lose Jacky (who was married with children) to “camp fever”. Martha surrounded herself with family. Many young nieces, nephews, and grandchildren lived at Mount Vernon which was a great comfort to her.

Of course, the American Revolution greatly affected every facet of her life. The author describes the events of the war accurately and succinctly. George was away from the Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, in Virginia, the entire eight years. Martha spent every winter with her husband at the Continental Army camp, often accompanied by nieces, nephews, and grandchildren.

Patricia Brady expertly guides the reader through the eight years George was president and Martha’s outlook and influence on those years when the Washington’s longed for a private life that was not to be. After George’s death in 1799 and forty-one years of devoted partnership, Martha never truly recovered from the pain. She remembered her husband’s admirers and those who had hurt him, like Thomas Jefferson. When Jefferson was elected president in 1800, “she commented freely and acidly on his presidency.”

Martha Washington, 1796

In the first week of May, 1802, Martha became ill with one of her frequent stomach upsets. She died at Mount Vernon on May 22.

I highly recommend this historical and spiritual book that contains elements of a great romance.

6 Favorite Sons of Liberty Quotes

#6 “There is not a king in Europe that would not look like a valet de chambre by his side.”   ~~Benjamin Rush, referring to George Washington, 1776

Benjamin Rush with URL
Benjamin Rush







#5 “The colonists are by the law of nature free born, as indeed all men are, white or black.”  ~~James Otis, Rights of the British Colonies, 1764   

James Otis







#4 “Now what liberty can there be where property is taken away without consent?” ~~Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists, 1772

samuel adams
Samuel Adams







#3 “When liberty is the prize who would shun the warfare? Who would stoop to waste a coward thought on life?”     ~~Joseph Warren, Letter to Patriots in Connecticut 1774

Joseph Warren







#2 “Give me liberty, or give me death!”    ~~Patrick Henry in a speech to the Second Virginia Convention, 1775

Patrick Henry







#1 “There! His Majesty can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head!”     ~~John Hancock, after signing the Declaration of  Independence, 1776 

john hancock
John Hancock







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


This is Dedicated to Major John Pitcairn

Many of you are aware of my excessive interest in the patriot leader and Son of Liberty, Joseph Warren. In fact, the first novel in my series, Angels & Patriots, is dedicated to Dr. Joseph Warren and another man, who was not an American patriot—Major John Pitcairn.

I’m not sure at what point (or why) in my research, these men peaked my interest. Perhaps, it was because both men have largely been forgotten, yet they each played a vital role in the infancy of the Revolutionary War. I read and studied them until I felt I could make an attempt to write about them from their point of view, I perceived them as having some of the same characteristics— integrity, honesty, charm, and heroism.

Both Warren and Pitcairn were mortally wounded at the Battle of Bunker Hill, on June 17, 1775. Their deaths were recorded in a 1786 painting by John Trumbull – The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, June 17, 1775. Warren is the man in white lying in the foreground. Pitcairn is in the back to the right falling into the arms of his son.


There is more information on Dr. Joseph Warren, (who died at 34) than on Major John Pitcairn (who died at 52). A biography about Warren’s life was published in 2012.

I found no dedicated writings about Pitcairn aside from resources on the internet, and a video game, Assassin’s Creed III (2012), in which Pitcairn is ultimately assassinated. Pitcairn was cast as an antagonist in the TV mini-series Sons of Liberty (2015). I wondered why he was singled out as a “bad-guy” when history describes Pitcairn as having a sense of honor and the respect of both the Loyalists and the Patriots of Boston.

After reading accounts of Pitcairn’s life, I tried to picture him as a man, not just a bunch of statistics, dates, and speculation. Ironically, there are no known likenesses of him.

John Pitcairn was baptized at St. Serf’s, Dysart, a port town in Fife, Scotland, on December 28, 1722 (Old Calendar – 1723). His date of birth is not recorded separately, so it may have been the same day.

In his early 20s, John married Elizabeth Dalrymple. Their first child, Annie, was born in Edinburgh in 1746, the year John was commissioned a Lieutenant in Cornwall’s 7th (Marines) Regiment. The couple went on to have six sons and four daughters.

The Marines were disbanded for a time and reformed on a permanent basis in 1755. John retained his lieutenancy. In the Marines, commissions were not purchased. John didn’t reach the rank of Major in the Chatham Division until 1771, at age 48. His son, William, followed him into the Marines.

In December 1774, as unrest spread in the Colony of Massachusetts, he arrived in Boston with some 600 Marines drawn from three divisions: Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth. The Plymouth Marines were not properly trained, had unfit officers, had no proper weather clothing or equipment, and were undisciplined. Some of the men sold their equipment to buy rum.

Here, I saw John as a humanitarian with a sense of duty and responsibility for his marines. Not as a naive task master, but as a sensible mature man who understood that respect far out lasted threats and punishments. He found it hard to apply harsh discipline. By example and patience, he managed to drill them into shape. He lived in the barracks with his men to keep them sober and succeeded in gaining their respect.

On the night of April 18, 1775, General Thomas Gage ordered a handpicked assembly of 800 troops to gather on the shores of Back Bay, in Boston. Their clandestine mission was to capture rebel weapons hidden in Concord. Gage assigned Colonel Francis Smith as officer in charge, with Major Pitcairn as Smith’s second.

Pitcairn was in charge of the companies in the vanguard of Smith’s column of British regulars. These men weren’t Pitcairn’s marines; therefore, he was unfamiliar with them and their skills. When his vanguard marched into Lexington, led by Lieutenant Jessie Adair, they accidentally veered down the wrong road and marched toward Captain John Parker’s line of militiamen. Pitcairn was genuinely horrified. I tried to imagine his sense of urgency as he galloped across Lexington Green shouting for his companies in the van to halt and hold their fire.

Still, a shot rang out, and eventually eight provincials lay dead.

After the bloodshed later that day in Concord, the exhausted and frightened British troops retreated from Concord to Boston under constant rebel fire. Pitcairn tried to maintain order among the ragged ranks even after his horse was shot, forcing him to walk.

Two months later, on June 17, 1775, John Pitcairn and his marines were ordered to stand ready as reinforcements for British General William Howe’s regulars as they attempted to march on a little rebel redoubt hastily constructed on the wrong hill on the Charlestown peninsula.

I imagined Major Pitcairn and his marines as they rushed the redoubt; Pitcairn waving his bayonet at the rebels and yelling, “Now, for the glory of the Marines!” I wondered what John’s son, William, saw and thought when a rebel in the redoubt aimed his musket at his father.

Did John Pitcairn see the man who was about to mortally wound him? What were his thoughts when he realized he had been shot in the chest? I’ve read that he knew the shot was fatal, but there had to be more rushing through his mind. Legend says he fell into his son’s arms, and was bleeding so badly that William was covered in his blood.

History paints John Pitcairn as a brave sensible man even as he faced his own death. He was taken by boat back to Boston, and put to bed in a house on Prince Street. General Gage sent a loyalist town physician, Dr. Thomas Kast, to tend to Pitcairn.

John insisted that he get his affairs in order before allowing the doctor to examine him. Hours later, Dr. Kast pulled John’s waistcoat away from his wounded chest. John hemorrhaged to death. His son cried out to the marines, “I have lost my father!”

John was buried in the crypt of Christ Church, the Old North Church, in Boston. The fatal bullet and his uniform buttons were returned to his wife and children.

JohnPlaqueMajor John Pitcairn
Fatally wounded
while rallying the Royal Marines
at the Battle of Bunker Hill
was carried from the field to the boats
on the back of his son
who kissed him and returned to duty
He died June 17, 1775 and his body
was interred beneath this church

John’s birthplace, the old manse of Dysart, was demolished over a century ago. The marble plaque John erected to his parents’ memory in 1757-8 in St. Serf’s was destroyed by vandals in the early nineteenth century, after the kirk fell into ruin. As a result, until recently there was nothing to commemorate John in his hometown.



Read more about Major John Pitcairn in my novel Angels & Patriots Book One. Buy it today on Amazon in paperback or Kindle eBook.

Angels and Patriots Book One

Angels & Patriots Book One


  1. http://www.silverwhistle.co.uk/lobsters/pitcairn.html
  2. http://colonialamericans.weebly.com/major-john-pitcairn.html
  3. http://drbenjaminchurchjr.blogspot.com/2011/12/major-john-pitcairn.html
  4. Painting of “The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill” by John Trumbull the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
  5. Borneman, Walter R. American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to RevolutionNew York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. Print.
  6. Hand-colored engraving described as “The shooting of Major
    Pitcairn (who had shed the first blood at Lexington) by the
    colored soldier Salem.” Courtesy of J. L. Bell

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: 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.