The Pitcairn-Putnam Pistols

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Pitcairn-Putnam Pistols

All photos/art by Doug Mindell

In 1879, the granddaughter-in-law of Revolutionary War hero Major General Israel Putnam (1718-1790) donated “these memorials of the opening scene of the Revolutionary Drama” to Lexington.

Now displayed in the Hancock-Clarke House of the Lexington Historical Society, these elite Scottish officer’s pistols originally belonged to Major John Pitcairn (1722-1775), a Scot who commanded the advance British force that marched into Lexington in April 1775. On the retreat from Concord back to Boston, he lost his horse with the saddlebags containing these pistols. They were captured and soon after presented to General Putnam.

These foliate-engraved, ram’s-head-butted pistols bear Pitcairn’s monogram or initials amid the scrollwork and are a type favored by Scottish Highland officers during the mid-18th century. They are among the most storied artifacts of the American Revolution.

Lexington Historical Society, 13 Depot Sq., Lexington, MA. 781-862-1703; lexingtonhistory.org


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