My Kindle Books

  • www.amazon.com
  • www.amazon.com
  • www.amazon.com
  • www.amazon.com
  • www.amazon.com

The First British Officer Killed in the Revolutionary War

When provincial militia companies fired at the British soldiers holding the North Bridge in Concord, they wounded four army officers:

Unable to march back to Boston, Gould commandeered a chaise in Concord and set out with Hull, who seems to have been more badly hurt. They raced back to safe ground through the hostile countryside.

Somewhere east of Lexington, the lieutenants met up with Col. Percy and the British relief column. Gould briefed the colonel about what had happened in Concord and drove on. But by the time the chaise reached Meontomy, the provincial militia was out in force.

Someone fired at the vehicle, wounding Hull again. Gould surrendered and was taken to Medford. Hull was carried into a deserted house beside the road. When the homeowners, Samuel and Elizabeth Butterfield, returned at the end of the day, they found a provincial man, Daniel Hemenway, shot in the chest but relatively healthy, and Lt. Hull, grievously wounded.

The next day, the Rev. David McClure had been in the Butterfields’ house. He wrote:

I went into a house in Menotomy, where was a stout farmer, walking the room, from whose side a surgeon had just cut out a musket ball . . .

In the same room, lay mortally wounded, a british Officer, Lieut. Hull, a youthful, fair & delicate countinance. He was of a respectable family of fortune, in Scotland. Sitting on one feather bed, he leaned on another, & was attempting to suck the juice of an Orange, which some neighbour had brought. The physician of the place had been to dress his wounds, & a woman was appointed to attend him. His breaches were bloody, lying on the bed. . . .

I asked him, if he was dangerously wounded? he replied, “yes, mortally.” That he had received three balls in his body. His countenance expressed great bodily anguish. I conversed with him a short time, on the prospect of death & a preperation for that solemn scene, to which he appeared to pay serious attention.

A rumor about Hull’s captivity circulated among his fellow officers in Boston, as recorded by Lt. Frederick Mackenzie on 30 April:

Lt. Hull of the 43rd Regiment who was dangerously wounded on the 19th Instant, was left in a house in the Village of Menotomy. ’Tis said the Rebels placed three deserters from the 43rd Regt over him while he lay on a bed unable to move, and that one of those Villains threatened to shoot him for having formerly brought him to a Court Martial.

There’s no hint of such treatment in provincial sources. The head of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, Dr. Joseph Warren, had written to Gen. Thomas Gage assuring him that Hull and Gould were getting medical care. He invited the general to send out any British army surgeon he chose.

In Igniting the American Revolution, Derek W. Beck writes that toward the end of the month, as Hull weakened, Warren sent Gage another note saying that the lieutenant hoped to see his regimental adjutant. That was Lt. William Miller; he was promoted to captain at the end of the year and was still at that rank when he died in 1789.

Hull died on 2 May. The next day, Gen. Artemas Ward ordered three lieutenants and three adjutants to escort the lieutenant’s coffin to Charlestown and turn it over to the British military. A barge from H.M.S. Somerset carried it across the Charles River to Boston.

On 4 May Lt. John Barker of the 4th Regiment wrote in his diary:

The late Lt. Hull of the 43d was buried today: he was wounded and taken Prisoner on the 19th and the day before yesterday died of his wounds; they yesterday brought him to town as he had requested it.

They won’t give up any of their Prisoners, but I hear they treat ’em pretty well.

(The photo above shows the monument to two British privates killed and buried near the North Bridge in Concord. We don’t know where Lt. Hull’s body was interred.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *