Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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Warren I (Sch)

(Sch.: t. 64; cpl. 50; a. 4 4-pdrs., 10 swivels)

Joseph Warren, born on 11 June 1741 at Roxbury, Mass., graduated with distinction from Harvard College in 1759. After a year as headmaster of the Roxbury Grammar School, he entered the medical profession and later practiced as a physician in Boston. There, he became interested in politics and formed an early association with the firebrand Samuel Adams.

As the break in relations between the colonies and Great Britain approached, Warren abandoned his medical practice to enter military service. While still in Boston, he dispatched William Dawes and Paul Revere on their famous nocturnal rides to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of approaching British troops on 18 April 1775.

Elected a major general by the provincial congress on 14 June, Warren went out to Bunker Hill to look over the defenses shortly before the British attack on the afternoon of 17 June 1775. Although he consistently refused to take command, claiming that he would take part in the battle only as a volunteer, Warren eventually tried to exert leadership in rallying the colonial militia at Breed's Hill. Unfortunately, he was shot and killed by a British soldier while engaged in the attempt.


The first Warren was originally the fishing schooner Hawk, probably built at Marblehead, Mass., and owned by John Twisdon at the time of her appraisal by Colonel Jonathan Glover and Edward Fettyplace on 12 October 1775. Hurriedly fitted out as the fourth vessel of the fledgling seagoing force assembled by General George Washington to intercept Boston-bound British supply ships, Warren was commissioned at Beverly late in October 1775. Under the command of Capt. Winborn Adams, the armed schooner sailed from Beverly on 31 October 1775, on her maiden voyage under Continental colors.

Warren cruised north of Cape Ann and captured a small wood schooner before bagging a Boston-bound supply ship, the schooner Rainbow, around 27 November.

The Continental schooner continued to cruise north of Cape Ann until she came across the brig Sally on Christmas Eve, 1775. Bound from Lisbon to New York with 153 quarter casks of wine, the brig had been captured by HMS Niger earlier in the month, placed under a prize crew, and ordered taken to Boston. Warren captured Sally and took her into Marblehead as a "Christmas present" for General Washington.

After returning to port and undergoing repairs into January 1776, Warren was placed under the command of William Burke. The schooner set sail from Boston on 25 March 1776 to intercept a convoy of transports but was frustrated by the weather in her attempt to pick off any strays while sailing in company with the Continental schooner Franklin. The schooners then sailed their separate ways, with Warren going to the familiar waters north of Cape Ann.

After another rent and recruiting new crewmen, Warren joined Lynch and Lee in an attempt to get to sea on 27 May, but that day they could not slip past the British frigate HMS Milford patrolling outside Cape Ann harbor. When Warren did manage to get to sea, she scoured the waters of the bay near Cape Ann but did not score any successes that summer. In June, she tangled with the British troopship Unity, bound for Halifax with Hessian troops embarked, but met with a hot reception from the troopers' carriage guns and musket fire. While the schooner was disengaging, some powder stored on Warren's quarterdeck exploded, killing three and wounding seven.

Returning to Beverly for repairs, Warren, still under the luckless Burke, put to sea again in late August 1776 to patrol the supply lanes between Nova Scotia and Boston. Before dawn on 26 August, Warren and Lynch encountered HMS Liverpool patrolling. The two schooners separated to flee, and the British frigate chose to follow Warren.

The ensuing engagement was one-sided, and Liverpool had little difficulty forcing Warren to strike her colors before noon. Burke and his crew were transferred to Liverpool, which kept Warren as a tender until 4 September. On that day, Liverpool rendezvoused with Milford off Cape Ann, transferred the Continental schooner's guns to that frigate, and sent Warren to Halifax.

Condemned by a British prize court, Warren subsequently served as a tender to Milford until the erstwhile Continental ship ran aground in a storm near Portsmouth, N.H., and was destroyed around Christmas of 1776.

Published: Mon Oct 26 09:51:53 EDT 2015