Joseph Warren couldn’t die. The first gun shots of the American revolution had been shot days before and now the first major battle was about to begin. The American cause desperately needed more men to stand up against thousands of British soldiers. But Joseph Warren needed to preserve his life so that he could continue working on all his important tasks as president of the Massachusetts congress. He couldn’t risk his important life to stand as an ordinary soldier amongst flying musket balls. Or could he?
He was, after all, the leader of the revolution in Boston. Most of his fellow patriots were lower class working men with little education. As a Harvard graduate, Warren was able to act as a link between the people of Boston and the diplomats, governors, and royalty of England. He had written fiery articles and speeches to rally the people of Boston to action. He had also written diplomatic letters and proposals to try to make peace with England. His moral strength and character helped him gain the respect of everyone he met, from the most zealous patriots to the snootiest of British commanders.
Aside from his writing abilities, diplomacy duties, and administrative prowess, Warren helped raise, organize, and train local militias and found ingenious ways to gather arms and ammunition and keep them safe from British spies. He was the heart of the revolution in Boston. And yet, how could he excuse himself from fighting? His fellow patriots, students, and friends were gathering on Bunker hill to risk their lives for the cause Warren had so faithfully worked toward. They needed him there.
When he arrived, the men in charge tried to convince him to serve as a commander general. In this position he would remain safe from the harm of musket balls. Joseph Warren refused. He was a doctor, not a general. Despite his friend’s pleas, he insisted that a more experienced soldier be placed in charge. He would fight as an ordinary soldier.
On the battlefield he showed great courage. He volunteered to fight in the most dangerous position. Throughout the battle he rallied the men around him, crying:
"These fellows say we won't fight! By Heaven, I hope I shall die up to my knees in blood!"
He fought boldly until a musket ball hit him in the head, killing him instantly. General Gage lamented that his death was like the death of 500 men. His death was seen as a martyrdom for the American cause and served as a rally cry to convince other colonies to join Boston’s war.
Joseph Warren’s death prevented him from taking his proper place amongst our famed founding fathers. Joseph Warren fighting that battle would be like our modern day congressman fighting frontline in Iraq. Hey congressman! Read this! Take a lesson on courage...
By: Susanna Olson
Courage is a powerful, yet abstract word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:
“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
while the Oxford dictionary explains it as:
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”
I thought it would be interesting to look at courage as defined by some of history’s fearless heroes...
...All night long she rode furiously through the countryside, sounding the alarm and rallying the men. A friendly man stopped her and asked if she would like him to accompany her on her dangerous mission. She refused, sending him the opposite direction so that he could help spread the word farther. All in all, Sybil road 40 miles, more than double the amount Paul Revere rode on his famous night ride. She did not weary. She did not give up...
Clara was terrified. She silently scanned the room full of students in front of her, wondering what to say. She was only 16 years old; some of her students were older and much larger than herself. She couldn’t do this. She just couldn’t.
You see, Clara Barton was a terribly shy girl...