Indexed on: 02 Jul '15Published on: 02 Jul '15Published in: Neurosurgical focus
As his fellow soldiers ran past him, Joseph Warren stood bravely on Bunker Hill. It was June 17, 1775, and British troops were fighting the colonists in one of the early battles of the American Revolution. The British had already attempted two major assaults that day, and the third would end with Warren's death. He was a medical doctor, public figure, and general who spent his life and last living moments fighting for freedom for the American colonists. After the battle, there was much confusion about what had happened to Joseph Warren. Some thought he had survived the battle; other accounts differed on how exactly he had died. The details of the events on Bunker Hill remained a mystery until the following year, when Paul Revere helped identify Warren's body by the false teeth that had been implanted years earlier. Warren's remains showed that his head had been struck by a bullet. Analysis of the skull helped to sift through the differing tales of Warren's death and thus unveil the truth about what occurred that day. The smaller bullet wound in the left maxilla suggests that he was not shot while retreating with the rest of the soldiers. The larger exit wound in the right occiput illustrates that the bullet's trajectory crossed the midline of the brain and most likely injured the brainstem. Therefore, contrary to rumors that circulated at the time, Joseph Warren most likely was killed instantly at the Battle of Bunker Hill while heroically facing his enemy.