Throwback Thursday – Joseph Warren and Paul Revere’s Ride

Listen, my children, and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April in seventy-five, 

Hardly a man is now alive 

Who remembers that famous day and year.

So read the famous opening lines of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s American Revolution 18th century poem, retelling the near 250-year-old story of the night before the first official battle at Lexington and Concord. How does this tale weave into the history of southern Kentucky?

Who was the patriot who enlisted Paul Revere to spread the word awakening colonial militia? Who was this Son of Liberty whose seditious acts branded him a traitor to the British crown and associated him with John Hancock and Samuel Adams? It was Major General Joseph Warren. The namesake of Warren County. 

More than 30 townships along the eastern United States bear the Warren name. Born in 1741 in Massachusetts, he practiced medicine and surgery in Boston, where his autopsy work from British loyalist bouts with volatile colonists drove him further toward the independence cause. Grand Master of the Massachusetts freemasons and second President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, he advocated resistance to Parliament’s Intolerable Acts passed after the Boston Tea Party.

In the late hours of April 18, 1775, General Warren’s informants received word that British redcoats were raiding Concord. Warren dispatched Paul Revere and William Dawes to sound the alarm that war had begun. Warren fought the British on their way back into Boston the next morning and nearly got killed when a bullet hit his wig. It was two months later, at the battle of Bunker Hill, where General Warren received a fatal headshot. His body was stripped, bayoneted beyond recognition, and thrown into a shallow ditch, just to be dug up and beheaded two days later.

We remember those first revolutionaries in those not-so-very-long-ago days, so we no longer live by colonial rule.

For, borne on the night-wind of the past,

Through all our history, to the last, 

In the hour of darkness and peril and need, 

The people will waken and listen and hear,

The hurrying hoof beats of that steed, 

And the midnight message of Paul Revere.