Thursday, September 13, 2012

Unsung hero of the Revolutionarry War - Dr. Joseph Warren

When it comes to the history of the US Revolutionary war, we always hear about people like George Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin. But there were so many other people behind the scenes who risked everything. And some who lost everything for the cause. Recently, I discovered one such unsung hero, Dr. Joseph Warren.

Born in 1741, Joseph Warren, the son of a respected farmer, graduated from Harvard and went on to study medicine.  He married 18-year-old heiress Elizabeth Hooten in 1764, but she died 9 years later,  leaving him with four children.  While practicing medicine in Boston, Joseph became friends with Samuel Adams and John Hancock as well as other radical leaders of the Sons of Liberty. He quickly became caught up in the fight for freedom from Tyranny. Here are just a few things he did:

  • He was a member of the Boston committee that assembled a report on the following month's Boston Massacre.
  • Royal officials tried to place his publishers Edes and Gill on trial for an incendiary newspaper essay Warren wrote under the pseudonym A True Patriot
  • In 1774, he authored a song, "Free America," which was published in colonial newspapers.
  • Warren was appointed to the Boston Committee of Correspondence. He twice delivered orations in commemoration of the Massacre, the second time in March 1775 while the town was occupied by army troops.
  • Warren drafted the Suffolk Resolves, which were endorsed by the Continental Congress to advocate resistance to Parliament's Coercive Acts
  • He was appointed President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, the highest position in the revolutionary government.
However, he is most known for what he did on the night of April 18th, 1775.   Warren received information from a highly placed British informant that British troops were planing a raid on Concord to destroy munitions stored there by the colonials. Warren also learned that the troops intended to arrest Sam Adams and John Hancock.Warren sent William Dawes and Paul Revere on their famous "midnight rides" to warn Hancock and Adams in Lexington about the approaching troops.  "The British are Coming! The British are coming!"

He took arms and fought in the ensuing battle, nearly dying when a musket shot clipped his wig. When his mother begged him not to risk his life again, he replied

 "Where danger is, dear mother," he answered, "there must your son be. Now is no time for any of American’s children to shrink from any hazard. I will set her free or die.

On 14 June he was chosen second major-general of the Massachusetts forces, and after hearing that the British troops had landed at Charlestown, he rode over to Bunker Hill. As he was endeavoring to rally the militia, Gen. Warren was struck in the head by a musket-ball, orphaning his four children.  In April, 1778, Gen. Benedict Arnold, who had conceived a warm friendship for Dr. Warren while at Cambridge, came to their relief. Arnold contributed $500 for their education, and succeeded in obtaining from congress the amount of a major-general's half-pay, to be applied to their support from the date of the father's death until the youngest child should be of age.


  1. Thurs Sept 13th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    What an incredible account of Dr Joseph Warren's story in history !!! And, I can even identify with him -- losing a spouse at a very young age, and being left to raise four children on my own !
    Joseph Warren undertook so many great accomplishments, even in the face of adversity !!!
    We have all heard the famous words: "The British are coming, The British are coming" ... yet I knew NONE of the story surrounding those words, and 'who' sent Paul Revere and William Dawes on their heroic rides ! This is so very cool, and so very interesting !!!
    But what truly blessed me, was his response to his mother's plea - to not risk his life again: "Where danger is, dear mother, there must your son be. Now is no time for any of American's children to shrink from any hazard. I will set her free or die" !
    W-O-W -- what bravery, devotion, commitment, faithfulness to America (and her freedom), heroic, steadfast, and honouring.
    And what a beautiful tribute Gen Benedict Arnold paid to his memory -- that of 'taking care' of Joseph Warren's orphans, financially supporting them. That is amazing !!!
    Another well-taught history lesson, MaryLu ... I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this ! And, even though I am a Canadian ... I feel so proud of Dr Joseph Warren too (I do have American blood in me though). He was totally true to his word: "I will set her free or die" .... and die he did, fighting for 'the cause'.
    What an example for us all ! Oh, how we 'need' more Joseph Warrens to rise up and take charge !!!
    Thanks again for sharing this with us ! Truly fascinating !!!
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  2. Thanks for the information again MaryLu. It's always fun to read about the behind-the-scenes people who you never really hear much about. I've told my kids what I know of the story that carries that famous line "The British are coming! The British are coming!" There's something catchy about that line! You can just picture what's going on, and the adrenaline gets pumping ...

    Brenda - well said. I am sorry to hear that you could relate to losing a spouse at a young age and having to raise 4 kids on your own. How horrible for you. I also read yesterday's comments - I tried to leave one too, but it wouldn't let me - I'll be praying for you and your son. And, yes, what comfort we can have because we have such a firm and steadfast anchor. The words to that song you posted hit the spot. This battered ship needed to hear that too. :)

  3. Hi Ladies! I knew you'd find this interesting. These type of stories make me so proud to be an American.. but I'm sure you Canadians have your own set of wonderful tales. Our countries would not be what they are today if they hadn't been built upon such brave, selfless, honorable people from our past. People willing to lose their lives so we could live free. Amazing.

  4. Hey Caroline .... good to have you back. And, thank-you for your prayers too !!! I didn't mean to make it 'all about Brenda' (although that is probably what it came out sounding like) ..... but that song, "The Anchor Holds" ... rang loud and clear. I told MaryLu ... that for "anyone" who has ever felt like they were drowning in the raging seas of life ... they'd appreciate the words to this song.
    You hang in there too, "oh battered ship" ... the Anchor holds ... never fear, never give up !!!
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  5. Yes, MaryLu, you're right! There have been so many brave, incredible people from the past. I cannot begin to imagine what their lives were like, and what sacrifice they made. So thankful for them, and for those who do the same today!

    Brenda - yes, I've missed my daily visits to the Cross and the Cutlass. We were away, then life just kept me busy ... ;) It's good to be back!

  6. How sad that his story isn't told along with Paul Revere. History shouldn't be selective when reciting the events of the past. Especially ones that had effected the outcome of our country!

  7. Thank-you for this information I'm doing a project for school and his really helps me out!!!!! I will put you on my works cited page. thanks again

  8. Thank yo project fo school

  9. what is highly secret is he wore a woven gold thread uniform into battle when he was killed ;;; it was made of pure gold;; i read this in the robins rev-up news paper published by the air force in georgia;;; but cant find any other reference about this;;; i am sure the men at the alamo knew about it though

  10. unknown but to a few is the story that dr. warren went into battle wearing a gold uniform of woven gold tread ;;;;pure gold;;i read this years ago in the local air force base news paper, the robins rev-up published bi-weekly by the USAF at robins base in georgia. this was years ago and i cant find any other reference to it,but warren did show up for a meeting wearing a roman toga and his wife was rich;;; the men at the alamo knew the story well.....

    1. Thank you for the information. Very interesting!

    2. Major General Dr. Joseph Warren wore no such uniform. First, he had virtually no money. Secondly, yes although he did wear his finest clothing at the Battle of Bunker Hill; it certainly was not a Continental Army looking uniform. He wore NO uniform.
      Marc Stockwell-Moniz
      Board of Directors of the Bunker Hill Monument Association.
      Author of "George Washington's Unsung Heroes" and "Seeds of American Liberty; the story of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Chelsea Creek and the Battle of Bunker Hill."

  11. dr.warren married a wealthy woman.. i read about his gold uniform in the Robins Rev UP. a newspaper published by the US air force at Robins air force base in Ga. this was years ago when it was home to the stratigic air command or sac. they kept b-52s there with nuclear warheads. a colonels daughter had a hysie and beat on one of the war heads with a hammer,then another b-52 burnt up. they moved the sac command to south dakota.i have been trying to find the source of dr. warren wearing a gold woven uniform fora long time. even called the base paper but they woudnt help me. his body was mutilated, head severed,and dug up again a few days after he died. havent heard of such a story about another soldier. the paper said he was given a general rank but he chose to join the front lines wearing a gold woven uniform.. he was quickly shot. he had no prior military experience.