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Lot 0136
American Revolution
Gorgeous Color Lithograph of the “Battle of Bunker Hill” and The Death of General Warren by Kurz & Allison
c. 1880, Color Lithograph of the “Battle of Bunker Hill.,” after the Painting by John Trumbull, Framed, Choice Near Mint.
This exceptionally beautiful Color Lithograph print was published by Kurz & Allison of Chicago and has wonderful eye appeal. The historic image measures about 17.5” x 25”, matted and framed to an overall size of 26.75” x 33”. After the famous painting by American artist John Trumbull. This depiction presents in remarkable detail in strong rich colors, the carnage of the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, with British warships firing their cannons in the background. At front right, a Black soldier is part of the battle scene. He was a Slave named Prince Estabrook who had volunteered to fight, having been voted into the Lexington, Massachusetts Militia company. Doctor Joseph Warren is shown as he lies mortally wounded, the bayonet of a British soldier being deflected by the hand of Colonel John Chester as he attempts to aide Dr. Warren. John Chester, a Connecticut captain, seeing an entire company in retreat, ordered his company to aim muskets at that company to halt its retreat; they turned about and headed back to the battlefield. The text printed under the image at lower left reads: “June 17th, 1775. - Howe, Com. British, Loss: 1054. (Maj. Pitcain Kd.) Prescott, Com. Americans, Loss: 450 (Gen. Warren Kd.). Text at lower right reads: “Kurz & Allison, Art Publishers, 76 & 78 Wabash Ave., Chicago, U.S.A.” Overall, one of the very finest and most attractive examples of any rendition of the “Battle of Bunker Hill” we have seen and offered, and is an outstanding display piece.
By Derek W. Beck:

Dr. Joseph Warren was one of the most important and influential Revolutionary War heroes, once more famous than George Washington, now largely forgotten given his untimely death in the American retreat from the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775.

Ever since, historians have debated the contemporary stories of the death of Warren, whether he was shot in the face as he valiantly rallied some retreating Yankees to a final volley against the oncoming British, or whether he was shot in the back of the head as he ran from the field. At last we have the answer.

Following the Battle of Bunker Hill, Warren was buried on the field of battle, which remained under the control of the British until their forced Evacuation of Boston, March 17, 1776.

It was on this date, 235 years ago, April 4, 1776, that Dr. Warren’s burial spot was discovered by two of his brothers, Ebenezer Warren and Dr. John Warren, along with Paul Revere. Though Paul Revere was known as a silversmith, his trade had its uses in dentistry as well. Joseph Warren’s unborn nephew would decades later specify that the body was recognized “from the circumstance that the left upper cuspidatus, or eye-tooth, had been secured in its place by a golden wire.“Whether the eye-tooth was the false tooth, or whether the false tooth was secured to it by the wire, is unclear. Revere’s use of dentistry to help identify Warren’s remains is oft cited as the first known use of dental forensics.

metal wire placed by Revere, barely visible between the eye-tooth and the first pre-molar in the frontal view. It is upon examination of these copies that the particulars of Warren’s death become apparent. The photos reveal a musket-ball sized hole just between the left nostril and left eye on Warren’s left side.

There is a much larger exit wound at the back of the skull’s base, just right of center when looking at it from behind. This exit wound must have been the one Dr. John Mason Warren described as “crumbling at the margin.” Due to the low muzzle velocity of the musket, as evidenced by their extremely limited range, one can deduce that in order for a ball to pass entirely through the skull, the fatal shot was fired from close range.

With these long-lost photos, we now have visual proof to answer the particulars of the fatal shot. Dr. Joseph Warren was shot in the face, looking at his assailant, and given the exit wound, he undoubtedly died instantly. He made no final speeches. He was not shot in the back of the head while retreating.

Whether he rallied a few steadfast Yanks to give a final volley into the oncoming British is unknown, but Dr. Warren certainly died facing the swarm of redcoats as they poured over the Breed’s Hill redoubt toward him.

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c. 1880 Battle of Bunker Hill, Color Lithograph

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