Truth in Art

The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill

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Artist Bio (Mason Smith)

John Trumbull was an American Artist Who lived during the American Revolution who is most famous for his historical paintings of events during his period. His Declaration of Independence is featured on the back side of the two-dollar bill. Born in Lebanon, Connecticut on June 6th, 1756, Trumbull suffered an accident early in his life that left him blind in one eye, which many have speculated to have contributed to his detailed style of painting. His father served as Governor of Connecticut for a time, and was wealthy enough to send young John off to Harvard College in 1773. Later in life, John would serve as a soldier of the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War; Trumbull witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill, and would later paint the scene. Eventually, as a result of his higher education, he would serve first as a secondary aide to General Washington, and later as a deputy adjutant-general to General Horatio Gates prior to resigning from the Army in 1777 after a dispute over the dating of his officer commission.Trumbull would later become a student of British artist Benjamin West in London, who would encourage him to paint scenes from the war; Trumbull would eventually produce about 250 in his lifetime.

Art Critique (Michael de Silva)

The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775 depicts the climax of an important battle scene. As such, it has many vivid colors. The bright light of the blue sky, the bold red of the British soldiers’ uniforms as they take control of the battle. The painting has a clear focus on the deceased Joseph Warren. It also has somewhat of a triangle of light that the eye is drawn to between the sky, Warren, and the flag above him.

Trumbull uses smooth brushstrokes, particularly in the smoke and clouds, to create a realistic picture. This is enforced by detailed and lifelike faces and bodies. The style is probably Neoclassical due to this. Overall, Trumbull’s use of color makes this painting feel very connected and realistic.


Story Truth (Ethan Clifford)

The plan was simple: take control of the unoccupied hills near boston, and with those vantage points take over the boston harbor. I had no idea the results would be so grotesque.


My name is Captain Hobbes. I was born in Manchester with a sense of British identity. When I was 15 I had met King George III, turning me into what many would consider a British nationalist. However, when I was 22 our colonies began to riot, even attacking British soldiers. I was shocked; after all we had done for them in the 7 years war, THIS is how they were repaying us? At the time Manchester was a rather filthy place, and I leaped at the chance to enlist into the royal navy.


Training was brutal, but in time I completed it and was named a captain due to my expertise in sailing. At this time what would be considered the first battle of the American Revolution, the Battle of Lexington and Concord, had taken place. I was sick to my stomach. The colonies had rioted before, but I never thought it would turn into an open rebellion. On top of that, innocent British soldiers were dead.


After this battle they began to employ a larger number of troops to the mainland colonies. My crew happened to be part of these soldiers; I was thrilled. When I first stepped foot on the Massachusetts bay it was horrible; smallpox was rampant, and attitude was poor. The majority of the people did not think this was war worth fighting, making morale low. Living in a urban enviroment all my life, the rural terrain was new to me. My crew and I was assigned to assist parts of the army in taking control of the unoccupied hills near boston, which would in turn help us take control of the boston harbor from the colonists. A day before arrival our orders had changed. The colonists knew of our arrival, and had therefore created a bunker at Breed's hill. This did not change any of our orders thought; we had a more powerful military and would win this.

Dawn had arrived when the first cannon struck us directly. Unaware Breed’S hill was so close, they took us by surprise. However, the battle had just begun and there was work to do. We began to push up the hill. Bullets were flying everywhere, and people were dying like flies. I ignored this and continued up with my crew behind me. Finally, we had reached the bunker. All of a sudden, something had changed. One of our troops had shot one of their leaders, and it seemed that based on this something was off. I froze, and looked at a father dying in his son's arms. I saw young boys fighting for reasons they did not know dying. And lastly, I saw the weeping of the colonists whose leader had dyed.

After this moment we kept on fighting and eventually won. But at what cost? Nearly half my crew was dead. We had lost massive numbers. Colonists influenced by pure propaganda were dead. I would later find that we had killed one of their most influential leaders- General Warren. It was then that I realized that all this fighting was unnecessary, and begun to hate my home country.


Happening Truth (Mark Kanevsky)

In the painting “The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill” John Trumbull is illustrating the death of the American general Joseph Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill.


The battle of Bunker Hill occurred on June 17, 1775. It was a part of the Boston Siege at the very beginning of the Civil War, on June 13th of 1775 the colonists learned of a british plan to gain control of hills that surround the city of Boston which in tail led to the colonists sending troops out to Bunker Hill as well as Breed’s hill. When the british heard that the colonists had mounted troops onto Breed’s and Bunker hill the British immediately led an attack on the colonists. The British originally sent two assaults onto the colonists but they both resulted in massive british casualties as the colonists were able to hold their ground. The colonists strong defenses led to a very significant problem for them though as they ran out of ammunition and had no means of acquiring anymore, the British led one final after attack and pushed the colonists back to Cambridge, giving the british sole possession of the Charlestown peninsula and both hills as well.


Mixed into all of these events was the death of the american general Joseph Warren. Joseph Warren was a beloved leader and was in charge of the Massachusetts Committee of Safety. Through the first two battles general Warren fought valiantly even though as an individual of rank he was not forced to, he did so completely by choice. The painting portrays the retreat of the colonists which is where general Warren was ultimately killed, he is shown in the painting lying dead in one of his soldiers arms as the rest of his troops retreat from the peninsula. The death of Warren was a huge loss to the entire patriot cause.

Happening Truth: In contrast, for this section, your group will research the event illustrated by the artist in order to create the "Happening Truth". This piece will reflect a factual retelling of events as it is seen in history. You and your group-mates will be outsiders looking in.

War Story (Mason Smith)

It was about 4:00 AM on the morning of June 17th when it started. My mates and I were starting to build up a solid fortification on Bunker Hill, an area that overlooks the outskirts of Charleston, Massachusetts, when the H.M.S Lively opened artillery fire on the site. Of course, that didn’t exactly deter the Continental Army from organizing a fortified and armed resistance after Admiral Graves ordered an end to the fire when it woke him from his slumber; however, General Howe would order a resumed shelling in the morning when he became fully aware of the situation, thus the process was none to simple.

It is perhaps thanks to Providence alone that we ended on such a defendable position as Bunker and Breed’s hill. The British officers, by a mixture of poor information and ineptitude, did not see this when planning an assault on the position, which is likely the sole reason for my not being in the hands of the British at this very moment. The Redcoats stormed the hill, and lost over a thousand in the process. Even still, we have lost a man worth a thousand and one Lobsters in General Warren. 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. We lost a man worth more than King George’s entire line today, and I am not sure the Continental Army will find a man of his worth again.