Daily Archives: June 18, 2009

Bunker Hill, Paul Revere, and Forensic Dentistry

Yesterday was the 234th anniversary of the Revolutionary War Battle of Bunker Hill. Never mind that it actually took place on and around Breed’s Hill, we know it as Bunker Hill and the obelisk monument that commemorates it says so. One of the casualties of that seminal battle was Dr. Joseph Warren, who was buried, along with many of the other 140 Americans killed that day, near Breed’s Hill. However, Dr. Warren’s story didn’t end there.

Warren, Dr. J

Dr. Joseph Warren

Everyone knows of Paul Revere and his dramatic horseback ride that alerted the colonist of the approach of British forces. I’d bet many of you still remember, at least in part, Longfellow’s poem. Revere was also a gifted metal smith and engraver and had been schooled in the art of dentistry. One of his patients was his friend Dr. Warren, for whom he made an ivory and silver bridge.
Many months after the battle, Warren’s family wanted his body disinterred for a private burial. To do this Dr. Warren’s corpse had to be distinguished from all the others. In rides Paul Revere. A positive identification came when Revere recognized the dentures he had made for his friend. This was one of the first cases where a corpse was identified by dental techniques and many point to this as the origin of forensic dentistry.

Boston 1775 Blog

Biology On-Line Article

Paul Revere Wikipedia

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