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BLOODY BUTCHERY BY THE BRITISH TROOPS, OR, THE RUNAWAY FIGHT OF THE REGULARS
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF AMBASSADOR J. WILLIAM MIDDENDORF II
BLOODY BUTCHERY BY THE BRITISH TROOPS, OR, THE RUNAWAY FIGHT OF THE REGULARS

EZEKIEL RUSSEL, 1775

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BLOODY BUTCHERY BY THE BRITISH TROOPS, OR, THE RUNAWAY FIGHT OF THE REGULARS
Ezekiel Russel, 1775

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Lot Essay

[LEXINGTON and CONCORD.] Bloody Butchery by the British Troops, or, The Runaway Fight of the Regulars. Being the Particulars of the Victorious Battle fought at and near Concord ... between Two Thousand Regular Troops, belonging to His Britannick Majesty, and a few Hundred Provincial Troops. Salem, N.E.: Printed and Sold by E[zekiel] Russell., [May 1775]. Second edition, third issue with 42 coffins and five-line imprint.

"BLOODY BUTCHERY": American revolutionary propaganda in the aftermath of "the shot heard round the world." A remarkable broadside, justly famous for its powerful graphics, its detailed narrative of the day-long battles of Lexington and Concord, and its stirring call to patriots to take arms against British tyranny. The printer, Ezekiel Russell, was strongly supportive of the revolutionary cause. He would go on to issue a broadside account of Bunker Hill and then the first Salem edition of the Declaration of Independence. Russell created "Bloody Butchery," a highly effective piece of anti-British propaganda, by uniting several texts: a first report on the battles, datelined 21 April (from Russell's own Salem Gazette), a follow-up datelined 25 April (excerpted from the rival Salem Essex Gazette), a 5 May report on the American casualties and funerals, and, in column three, a detailed "List of the Provincials who were Killed or Wounded," arranged by the towns in which they resided (8 names are marked with an asterisk, to denote those "killed [at Lexington common] by the first fire of the enemy." The anonymous verse elegy at the bottom of the sheet, reprinted from the Newburyport Essex Journal and Merrimack Packet, names most of the towns which suffered in the fighting, and concludes "Your country calls you far and near, America's sons 'wake ... His shield will keep us from all harm, Tho' thousands 'gainst us rise His buckler we must sure put on. If we would win the prize." Russell's headline informs us that "These particulars are now published in this cheap form at the request of the friends of the deceased worthies who died gloriously fighting in the cause of Liberty and their Country; and it is their desire that every Householder in America, who are sincere well-wishers to the American Colonies, may be possessed of the same, either to frame and glass, or otherwise to preserve in their Houses...as a perpetual Memorial of that important event, on which, perhaps, may depend the future Freedom and greatness of the Common-wealth in America..."

The "corrected" third issue with 42 coffins. The broadside evidently proved even more popular than Russell had imagined, and though few copies survive, at least two editions and three issues are distinguished. Streeter's "first edition" has no imprint, lacks the initial capital in column one and has a nine-line heading paragraph. The second edition adds the initial capital, carries a six-line heading paragraph and has a two-line imprint, the present issue, apparently the second issue of this edition (or the third issue overall), features a five-line imprint with a parenthetical note at the close of the first full paragraph: "The Second Edition, corrected, with some additions" and shows two additional coffins than the first two printings (representing two Americans who had since died of wounds sustained in the fighting). All versions are rare. Copies of the several variants (some defective) are at Massachusetts Historical Society, Harvard, American Antiquarian Society, Yale, Princeton (Scheide), John Carter Brown (untrimmed margins), New York Public Library; a copy in the British Library (1851.c.10.(96)) is a later facsimile. Just two copies can be traced from the auction records as in private hands, the Goldman copy (Sotheby's, New York, 13 December 1995, lot 227) and the Caren copy (Bonhams, New York, 7 April 2014, lot 56). Evans 13839 (c.f. Bristol B3929, "first" issue); Ford, Massachusetts Broadsides 1792; Lowance and Bumgardner 16 ("first," illustrated); Streeter, American Beginnings 41; Streeter sale 758 ("first" issue); Winslow, American Broadside Verse 28. Provenance: Sotheby Park Bernet, 29 October 1979, lot 99.

Broadside. 19 3/4 x 15 1/2 in (500 x 392 mm.). Printed in three columns, woodcut mourning borders and column divisions, at top two rows of 42 woodcut coffins (each captioned with the name of an American casualty), six small boxes along bottom containing "A Funeral Elegy, to the I[m]mortal Memory of those Worthies who were Slain in the Battle of Concord," woodcut border surrounding initial capital "O" in first column. (Weak horizontal fold repaired with paper on verso, a few marginal chips not affecting text, pin hole between “BRITISH" and “TROOPS“.) Framed and hinged to mat.

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