A Casualty Not Counted: Faith Trumbull Huntington and the Battle of Bunker Hill

“I cannot pretend to describe the Horror of the Scene within the Redoubt when we enter’d it,” British Marine Lt. John Waller wrote to a friend on June 21, 1775, four days after the British Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, “’twas streaming with Blood & strew’d with dead & dying Men the Soldiers stabbing some and dashing out the Brains of others was a sight too dreadful for me to dwell any longer on.”[1]  All said and done, the bloody exchange claimed 226 British and 450 Patriot lives, with still over 1,000 more wounded, captured, or missing from both belligerents.[2]

This unspeakable carnage, which proved too distressing for even a seasoned British Marine to recount, surely imprinted itself in the hearts and minds of all who witnessed it—but not all witnesses to the battle’s shocking scenes were soldiers. One was a young woman named Faith Trumbull Huntington. She too would find the bloody Battle of Bunker Hill, and the anxieties and unknowns of her world at war, heavy burdens to bear.

Double Portrait of Governor Jonathan and Faith Trumbull, John Trumbull, 1778, Connecticut Historical Society

Born in 1743 to Jonathan and Faith Trumbull in Lebanon, daughter Faith came of age in a prominent and respected Connecticut family, which also included younger brother John Trumbull, born in 1756, who was destined to become one of the era’s most important artists. On May 1, 1766 Faith married Jedidiah Huntington, and the couple welcomed a son, Jabez, in September 1767. At the onset of the war, the Trumbulls and the Huntingtons quickly mobilized and made known their patriot loyalties. Faith’s father, at that time the Royal Governor of Connecticut, refused to deliver manpower to support the British army’s advances against the colonists in Boston, and became a patriot hero whom George Washington held in high esteem. Jedidiah advanced to colonel in the Connecticut militia, and soon saw action at the Siege of Boston. Faith’s father, husband, and brothers dedicated themselves to the patriot cause. Her sister Mary was married to a member of the Sons of Liberty and future signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Jedediah Huntington, John Trumbull, about 1790, Bequest of Frederick Jabez Huntington, Connecticut Historical Society
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In Praise of Our New Furry Coworkers

There’s a high probability that you’ve stumbled upon this blog post while trying to recon with a lot of changes to your daily routine. For many of us in the public history sector, a big change has been transitioning out of the office and into teleworking. If you’re anything like me, you’ve been trying to transpose your office setup and routine as much as possible somewhere in your home. For me, that means taking over the dining room table with a laptop, external monitor, calendars, to-do lists, Post-Its, and books, books, books. One thing that doesn’t translate so well to teleworking, though—our pets.

If there’s anything humorous to be gleaned from our great experiment in teleworking, it’s that for many of us, working from home and pets don’t mix well. The internet is (thankfully, I think) full of hilarious photos of our innocent pets loving the fact that we’re home, and eager to get into our new daily routines. From interrupting conference calls and showing up in our Zoom meetings, to walking all over our laptops and sending nonsensical emails, we love our pets but…maybe we don’t need to take them to work with us when this is all over.

Someone who might disagree, however, is revolutionary General Charles Lee. I think it’s safe to say that he’s one of the most controversial and polarizing figures of the American Revolution—you either love him for his enthusiasm or hate him for trying to finagle his way into the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. Regardless of how scholars today nestle him into the annals of Revolutionary War history, Lee’s contemporaries were also a bit polarized about him and, largely, because of his deep (some say eccentric) attachment to his dogs.

In his excellent biography of Lee, Phillip Papas notes “the relationship between Lee and his dogs was more than a personal idiosyncrasy that charmed some people and shocked and made others feel uneasy.”[1] Lee was famous—then and now—for having his dogs with him everywhere. Military campaigns. The breakfast table. Anywhere General Charles Lee went, his dogs where sure to follow. While attending a dinner hosted by Thomas Mifflin, Lee nonchalantly brought his dogs along and they, apparently, sat down to dinner with the rest of the guests. Maybe we can give Charles a pass on that, if we’re accustomed in our own homes to let pets sit at our feet at the dinner table, but I’m not so sure that’s how the scene played out, given Lee’s penchant for ordering his dogs onto chairs to interact with guests.

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