Joseph Warren was born on June 11, 1741, to Joseph and Mary Warren in Roxbury, Massachusetts. His father, a respected farmer, but died early in Joseph’s teenage years in a farming accident. Joseph enrolled in Harvard, graduated in 1759, and studied medicine. He married Elizabeth Hooten in 1764, but she died in 1773, leaving him with four children.
When the Stamp Act reached to colonies in 1765, it inspired Warren’s Patriot sympathies. He practiced medicine and surgery in Boston, and he started to become active in politics, which led him to associate with other leaders such as John Hancock and Samuel Adams. After the Boston Massacre, Warren became chairman of the Committee of Safety.
He played a first-hand role in the raising of militias in and around Boston. While Sam Adams was away in 1774, Warren assumed the role of raising militias and the procurement of gunpowder, arms, and other supplies. When Adams and Hancock returned to Boston, they had learned a bounty was placed on their heads by the British crown. Joseph Warren directed Paul Revere and William Dawes to warn the leaders that the British were coming for them on the night of April 18, 1775 in Lexington, where Hancock and Adams were hiding.
With the events of Lexington and Concord, Warren left Boston to rally the militia for the battles to come. He spent six weeks doing so and was elected second general in command of Massachusetts forces by the Provincial Congress on June 14. He commanded troops at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17 where legend says he joined the battle line as a regular volunteer. Whether this legend is true or not, on the third British assault, Warren was shot and instantly killed.
When the British took the field and began burying the dead, they put Warren in a mass grave. His remains were later identified by Paul Revere, who was able to identify him by the false set of teeth he had fashioned for him. His body was moved to several different burial grounds, but his final resting place was found in 1855 in his family’s plot at Forest Hill’s Cemetery in Boston.