Skip to comments.Face of Defense: Soldier Relates to Iraqis’ Hopes
Posted on 05/26/2010 7:17:44 PM PDT by SandRat
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRA, Iraq, May 26, 2010 The struggles of the Iraqi people to build a functioning democracy have been compared to the efforts of the American people during the Revolutionary War.
A resident of Schenectady, N.Y., and a corrections deputy for Schenectady County, Warren deployed to Iraq in August with the New York National Guard's 206th Military Police Company from Albany.
Warren spent six months as a member of the quick-reaction force at the Basra Operations Command before his reassignment here as a Humvee driver. He said that while he is happy he shares a family resemblance with the general, he only mentioned it once in school.
"One time, in the first or second grade, we were reading a book about Paul Revere," he said. "At one point in the story, Revere is ordered by Joseph Warren to ride out to Lexington and Concord to let people know the British were coming. I told my teacher that he was my great, great, great, great, great-grandfather. She went with it, but, I don't think she believed me.
In the weeks after Lexington and Concord, the British grew concerned as the Americans sought high ground overlooking the British positions in Boston, such as two hills in Charlestown: Bunker and Breed.
Although he was the senior officer present, Warren, a widower with four children, volunteered to join the defense of the new American positions as a private on the line. It was June 17, 1775, the day British naval artillery and infantry combined to dislodge the rebels from their redoubts. It also was six days after his 34th birthday.
Despite being outnumbered, the Americans repulsed the first two assaults. But late in the battle, as ammunition ran out, the decision was made to retreat.
Warren, armed with his musket as a club and his ceremonial general's sword, stayed with the rear guard, protecting the American retreat. He was shot and killed by British troops in their third and final assault.
"My Warren grandparents always told me stories about Joseph Warren, and all the people he was friends with, such as Paul Revere, George Washington, John Hancock and Sam and John Adams," Warren said.
Another close friend of Warren's, Benedict Arnold, in an act of loyalty to his fallen comrade, successfully petitioned the Continental Congress to recognize his Massachusetts commission and grant his orphans payments at half a major general's salary until the youngest reached 21.
After the British left Boston in the spring of 1776, the generals body was recovered for a proper burial by his brother and Revere, who identified the body by dental work the silversmith had done on his late friend, said Jeffrey R. Croteau, manager of Library and Archives at the Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington, Mass.
"There's certainly no way of knowing what bright future Warren might have had, but his star was certainly rising when he was killed," Croteau said.
In the years after the infamous 1770 Boston Massacre, Warren devoted himself to the revolutionary cause, Croteau said. At the time of his death, he was the president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, and as a Freemason, he served as the grand master of the Massachusetts Provincial Grand Lodge.
"If he hadn't been killed at the battle of Breeds Hill, he would have been as well known as Paul Revere or Sam Adams," said Army Maj. Terry J. Hawn, commander of the 48th Military History Detachment, assigned to U.S.
Division Souths command group here. "Because he died early in the revolution, he was forgotten a little bit."
Hawn said he has read up on Warren and admires the sacrifices he made as an established doctor in Boston who completely committed himself to the American cause in the revolutions early days. "He was one of the rabble-rousers," he said.
In another twist of fate, the modern-day Warren had the opportunity to meet a descendent of the brother of 18th-century British Prime Minister Robert Walpole, who argued for ruling the American colonies with a light touch.
Serving as Queen Elizabeth II's consul-general to southern Iraq in Basra, Alice Walpole met with Warren at the British consulate here.
"In my job, I often hear comments - some of them supportive, some envious, some sneering - about the special relationship that exists between Britain and the United States," Walpole said. "My own view is that it is indeed a very special, and precious, relationship, and I hope that it will endure over the coming centuries, even as our countries continue to develop into splendid multicultural communities far distant from those little bands of essentially Englishmen facing each other across the Atlantic in the late 18th century."
Today's Warren said he feels a connection between the early days of the United States and the struggle of the Iraqi people to build their own democracy.
"I've been out there with them on both [the quick-response force] and with the police transition team, he said. They are always smiling and going out of their way to be friendly."
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Champagne, 1st Infantry Division and U.S. Division South command sergeant major, echoed the sentiment.
"As the Iraqis are forming their new government, we as Americans must remember that over 236 years ago, our Continental Congress endured the same fate," Champagne said. "Dr. Joseph Warren co-wrote the 'Suffolk Resolves' with Samuel Adams in 1774. In the Suffolk Resolves, Warren and Adams stated, 'On the fortitude, on the wisdom and on the exertions of this important day, is suspended the fate of this new world, and of unborn millions.'"
Champagne pointed out how the recent national elections in Iraq and the important decisions made there also will determine the future fate of unborn millions.
Warrens family legacy has come full turn," the sergeant major said. "Warren's selfless service, like [that of] his forefather, Dr. Joseph Warren, is allowing the Iraqis the ability to choose their freedoms."
Warren's thoughts on the subject mirror those of thousands of veterans and their families.
"I really hope it works out for them," he said, "so our coming out here was worth it."
Article on a soldier in Iraq who is the
5th great grandson of Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Warren, hero in Americas war for independence.
Other ref. to the Rev. War.
The two Soldiers Warren
Although, as the article states, Warren might have met Washington, I am skeptical. Remember, Washington did not come to Boston to take over the army until after Bunker (Breed's) Hill, and Warren was, by then, dead. Here are some excerpts about Warren from Wiki:
Warren was appointed a Major General by the Provincial Congress on June 14, 1775. He arrived where the militia was forming and asked where would the heaviest fighting be and Putnam pointed to Bunker Hill. He volunteered as a private against the wishes of General Israel Putnam and Colonel William Prescott, who requested that he serve as their commander.
Since Putnam and Prescott were more experienced with war he declined command. He was among those inspiring the men to hold rank against superior numbers. Taunting the British, Warren reportedly declared: "These fellows say we won't fight! By Heaven, I hope I shall die up to my knees in blood!" He fought in the redoubt until out of ammunition, and remained until the British made their third and final assault on the hill to give time for the militia to escape. He was killed instantly by a musket ball in the head by a British officer (possibly Lieutenant Lord Rawdon) who recognized him. His body was stripped of clothing and he was bayoneted until unrecognizable, and then shoved in a shallow ditch.
British Captain Walter Laurie, who had been defeated at Old North Bridge, later said he "stuffed the scoundrel with another rebel into one hole, and there he and his seditious principles may remain." His body was exhumed ten months after his death by his brothers and Paul Revere, who identified the remains by the artificial tooth he had placed in the jaw. This may be the first recorded instance of post-mortem identification by forensic odontology. His body was placed in Granary Burying Ground and later (in 1825) in St. Paul's Cathedral before finally being moved in 1855 to his family's vault in Forest Hills Cemetery.
General Gage is thought to have called Warren's death of equal value to the death of 500 men, but his death strengthened the radicals' political position because it was viewed by many Americans at the time as an act of nationalist martyrdom. Fourteen states have a Warren County named after him. Additionally, Warren, Pennsylvania, Warren, Michigan, Warren, New Jersey, Warrensburg, New York, Warrenton, Virginia, Warren, Massachusetts, and 29 Warren Townships are also named in his honor. Boston's Fort Warren, started in 1833, was named in his honor. Five ships in the Continental Navy and United States Navy were named Warren in his honor.
John Warren, Joseph's younger brother, served as a surgeon during the Battle of Bunker Hill and the rest of the war and then later founded Harvard Medical School.
“the article states, Warren might have met Washington”
Actually, from what I see, the grandparents claimed he was “friends with” Washington, and the officer did not say he met him. That can be altogether different - a few remote letters, etc., which sometimes for some people was indeed as intimate as they became in those days.
In all that I have read on the General, I think his knowing Warren would have been mentioned, but I am at a loss.
Further, I could not find any evidence that Warren attended any Philadelphia meetings that Washington had, so I remain skeptical but welcome being corrected. The only other thing that comes to mind is Washington's 1773 trip to NYC to place his stepson in King's College (Columbia), so meeting Warren there is a possibility.
And yes, I am aware of the importance of letters during the colonial period, but one would be hard-pressed to call anyone a friend whom you'd never met.
Given he died in almost immediately in the conflict, I seriously doubt he had anything remotely like that uniform. ;-)
Really? Why’s that?? He was already a General prior to the conflict, and in the story cited, they did say he had his ceremonial general’s sword with him when he was KIA.
1st of all, it wasn’t established what uniforms would be, even for officers.
2nd, rebels were never in a position to reliably clothe soldiers the entire war (especially in standard uniforms), much less any person at the literal start of the war, which for all they knew would’ve been quelled in a couple months anyway. They were not prepared militarily in any way - not even uniforms. Most “officers” at Boston were even in regular dress.
3rd, many, many images of the RevWar are romanticized, and many are well after the conflict. E.g., common belief is that rebels of the RevWar wore red-faced blue, whereas in truth many were hardly clothed at all, many wore homespun “hunting shirts, and that the red-faced blue uniform was a much LATER standard for mid-Atlantic troops. That (limited) standard was based on MD and DE troops, who, incidentally, were the BEST in the war - MDers were legendary - and they frequently wore these colors. Hence, it may be that people wanted all their RevWar heroes to all be dressed well & colored as the heroic troops were, not to mention their similarity to the flag.
“Ceremonial sword” may have simply been something he possessed ancestrally, or from an earlier conflict such as F&I.
Thanks for that information about Warren, Pharmboy. That is quite interesting and new to me.
I believe the Brits were particularly nasty that day and treated Warren's body so dreadfully is that so many of their officers were killed on Bunker and Breed's Hills. No excuse, mind you, but they never expected the casualties they took that day (but they "won" that battle).
Surely that added to it, but I believe Gen. Warren was well hated by the British already.
The Admiral Warren Inne, so important in the Paoli Massacre, was renamed the General Warren Inne in 1825. As I'm sure you know, "No-Flint" 1st Earl Grey led the Paoli Massacre (which was actually in Malvern). I found it amusing to note that they serve Earl Grey Tea (named after Gen. Grey's son, 2nd Earl Grey) at the General Warren Inne. Perhaps the loyalist bent isn't entirely gone! ;-)
As a side note, I wondered how the men up the hill from the Inne felt about it, as they lay beneath the stone that reads...
Here repose the remains
of fifty three
Who were the victims of
in the well known
MASSACRE AT PAOLI
while under the command of
Genl. Anthony Wayne
an officer whose military conduct
bravery and humanity
were equally conspicuous throughout
THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR
to the memory of
who on this spot
fell a sacrifice to
During the struggle for
on the night of
the 20th September 1777
this stone commemorates
by British troops
immediate command of
Major General Grey
And you are correct about General Warren being well known to the Brits...he had long history of leading the agitation in Boston.
You're welcome, and the Posts/Pings are appreciated!