Crossed Swords from the Battle of Bunker Hill
Crossed swords often symbolize hostility. But these overlapping blades tell a tale of reconciliation in the aftermath of the bloody Battle of Bunker Hill—the fight that kickstarted the American Revolutionary War 241 years ago this month.
The sword on the left belonged to Colonel William Prescott, of the Massachusetts revolutionary army; the sword on the right was that of John Linzee, a captain in the Royal Navy. Both men figured prominently in the battle—Linzee’s ship fired upon Prescott’s men—and their weapons were passed down through their respective families. Nearly 50 years after the conflict, the bitterness of war gave way to the power of love when Prescott’s grandson—William H. Prescott—married Susan Amory, a descendant of Linzee.
“It’s a symbol of connection,” says Peter Drummey, librarian for the Massachusetts Historical Society. As Drummey explains, the swords were donated in the 1850s to the historical society, which commissioned the plaque that still hangs in the organization’s offices. “The coats of arms for the Linzee family and the Prescott family tilt together,” Drummey points out. “They’re united by affection.”
Where to See It: Massachusetts Historical Society