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John Simpson
Born (1748-12-01)December 1, 1748
Died October 28, 1825(1825-10-28) (aged 76)
Place of birth Deerfield, New Hampshire
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1775–1783
Rank US-O4 insignia.svg Major
Other work Farmer

Major John Simpson (December 1, 1748 – October 28, 1825) was an American Revolutionary War soldier from Deerfield, New Hampshire. He is one of several men traditionally described as having fired the first shot on the American side at the Battle of Bunker Hill.[1]

After the shooting in the war began at Lexington and Concord, Simpson joined a company of militiamen under Captain Henry Dearborn. The company marched to Boston and joined the siege of that town. At the Battle of Bunker Hill, Colonel John Stark instructed his men of the 1st New Hampshire Regiment to hold their fire until the British had reached a certain point. According to the story, Simpson fired early and was arrested the next day for disobeying orders, but was not punished.

Simpson eventually rose to the rank of major in the New Hampshire state troops. After the war he returned to his farm.

Later life[edit | edit source]

In 1785, Simpson married Mary Whidden.[2] Two blacks were given to them by Whidden's mother.[2] They were not considered slaves; however, they were considered a part of his family.[2] While married, the two had 6 children: Joseph Langdon (February 8, 1787 – February 28, 1808), Thomas (August 2, 1788 – December 1, 1872), John Jr. (March 2, 1790 – February 8, 1868), Samuel (January 29, 1792 – January 13, 1872), Mary (June 5, 1794 – November 11, 1832), and Hannah (April 29, 1797 – July 18, 1872).[2]

Simpson died on October 28, 1825 and was originally buried in his family lot.[2] This graveyard was not taken care of and eventually one of his descendents moved him to the Old Center cemetery.[3]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. According to the 15th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, "Joseph Spalding of Chelmsford is said to have fired the first shot in the Battle of Bunker Hill." ("Chelmsford, Massachusetts" entry, 2005 printing, vol. 3, p. 152). According to historian Richard Ketchum, a Lieutenant [James?] Dana claimed to have fired first in order to cause the British to fire prematurely (Decisive Day: The Battle for Bunker Hill, p. 159).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Smith (1906), p. 18
  3. Smith (1906), pp. 18–19

References[edit | edit source]

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