Barbarous Murders Committed on Our Innocent Brethren

British Retreat from Concord Apri 19 1775 by Dolittle

in by Warren

Date: [April 20, 1775]

Joseph Warren to Towns

Gentlemen, -The barbarous murders committed on our innocent brethren, on Wednesday the 19th instant, have made it absolutely, necessary that we immediately raise an army to defend our wives and our children from the butchering hands of an inhuman soldiery, who, incensed at the obstacles they met with in their bloody progress, and enraged at being repulsed from the field of slaughter, will, without the least doubt, take the first opportunity in their power to ravage this devoted country with fire and sword. We conjure you, therefore, by all that is dear, by all that is sacred, that you give all assistance possi­ble in forming an army. Our all is at stake. Death and devastation are the instant consequences of delay. Every moment is infinitely precious. An hour lost may deluge your country in blood, and entail perpetual slavery upon the few of your posterity who may survive the carnage. We beg and entreat, as you will answer to your country, to your own consciences, and, above all, as you will answer to God himself, that you will hasten and encourage by all possible means the enlistment of men to form the army, and send them forward to head­quarters, at Cambridge, with that expedition which the vast importance and instant urgency of the affair demand.

Source: Massachusetts Archives; transcribed in Richard Frothingham, The Life and Times of Joseph Warren, Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 1865, p. 466.

Commentary: A president pro tem of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and chair of its Committee of Safety, Joseph Warren penned and distributed this memorable call to arms. The Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Battle Road occurred on the previous day. He had personally dispatched Paul Revere and William Dawes on the iconic Midnight Ride, thereby serving as the proximate agent of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. In the days and weeks following April 19th Warren worked feverously with his committees and militia generals to organize the activated militia and minutemen into a standing army capable of hemming the British army within the confines of Boston.

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