Two years after Thomas J. Fleming wrote Now We Are Enemies in 1960, another magazine journalist, Richard M. Ketchum, penned his own popular history of the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was published first as The Battle for Bunker Hill and then as Decisive Day: The Battle for Bunker Hill.
In his essay on sources at the back of the book, Ketchum quoted a document that puzzled him. It was a note sent to Gen. Thomas Gage by Lt. Col. Robert Carr from the “lines, [at] 25 minutes past 4 o’clock”:
Sir— The Rebels have advanced some Field Pieces on the rising ground to the left of Brownes House, I have given Capt. Farrington orders to endeavor to make them remove—I am SirKetchum observed a couple of odd things about this missive:
Your Excelly. Most Obedt
Lt Colo 35 Foot
- Lt. Col. Carr signed the note so genteelly that his signature is half as long as the note itself.
- Carr describes the New England artillery as advancing its cannons at 4:25. By that time, other sources agree, all the artillerists at Bunker Hill but Capt. Samuel Trevett and his Marblehead company had run away, or never went on the battlefield at all. Ketchum concluded, “it must be assumed these were guns abandoned by [Capts. Samuel] Gridley and [John] Callender, which were still being served by volunteers.”
- Carr’s 35th Regiment was badly mauled in the fight along the beach, losing three captains and two lieutenants, but where on the Charlestown peninsula was “Brownes House”?
TOMORROW: My theory—Carr was never in the battle.