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Major John Pitcairn


1722 - 1775

The Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

The Battle of Bunker Hill by John Trumbull

Royal Marine officer, who fought in the American War of Independence. Born in Dysart (Fife), the son of a Minister. He commanded the advance guard of British troops and was sent to destroy rebel stores in Concord (1775), however at Lexington they were met by an armed rebel militia. Despite trying to prevent violence, he was party to the fire-fight which began the war. There, Pitcairn made his famous statement:


"Disperse you rebels! Damn you, throw down your arms and disperse."

[Lexington, Massachusetts, 19th April, 1775]

The incident is commemorated in a panel forming part of the Rotunda Frieze in the United States Capitol, Washington DC.

He was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill (1775) and the painting by John Trumbull, shows Pitcairn falling into the arms of his son, mortally wounded. He was buried in London (England). Even in the USA, Pitcairn is remembered as a decent, gallant and honourable man.

Pitcairn's son Robert became a midshipman and was the first to sight the Pacific island which is named after him (1767), but was lost at sea in 1770, aged only 17.


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