Gun that fired the first shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill Sold for $492,000

The Bunker Hill Musket sold for just under half a million dollars. (Photo: Morphy’s)

The rifle that fired the first shot at the Battle of Bunker Hill — at the outbreak of the American Revolution — sold at the Morphy’s Auction House in Denver, PA for $492,000. Auctioneers expected the rifle to sell for around $300,000.

“We [had] the privilege of auctioning a firearm that symbolizes one of the most important battles leading to American independence,” said Morphy’s president Dan Morphy.

“The Simpson gun symbolized one of the most important battles leading to American independence and came with impeccable family provenance and supportive documentation,” added Morphy. “Bidders knew there was no question about this famous gun’s background and authenticity.”

The buyer of the Bunker Hill musket asked to remain anonymous, but has arranged for the gun to be put on display to the public at the National Museum of Military Vehicles in Dubois, WY as early as May 2020.

While the majority of the first shots of major conflicts are lost to history, the Bunker Hill musket has excellent provenance as John Simpson’s gun, who mistakenly and infamously fired at British forces just before the battle was supposed to take place.

See Also: John C. Garand’s Personal M1 Garand Auctions for $287,500

The soldiers of the 1st New Hampshire Regiment had orders not to shoot “until you see the white of their eyes,” but Private Simpson disobeyed on June 17, 1775, firing before the British soldiers closed in on their position. Later, Simpson was court-martialed.

His punishment was minor and Simpson did eventually rise to the rank of Major before retiring to be with his family in New Hampshire.

The musket and Simpson’s original commission were auctioned together. (Photo: Morphy’s)

The Battle of Bunker Hill, along with Breed’s Hill and the Siege of Boston is considered to be one of the most important early events of the American Revolution. While the battle ultimately ended in defeat for the Americans, having run out of ammunition, it would steeply temper British tactics and it proved that the American militia was surprisingly capable even against England’s regular army.

Around 1,200 colonial militiamen rallied to defend Boston during its siege, and English forces suffered two casualties for every American casualty in the Battle of Bunker Hill. American forces also injured and killed a large number of British officers in the opening battle.

Since then the musket has been passed down through Simpson’s family for six generations, and more than two centuries, and was offered for sale, for the first time, at the October 22-23 auction, along with all of Simpson’s original military commission.

***Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!***

About the author: Max Slowik is a writer with over a dozen years of experience and is a lifelong shooter. He has unwavering support for the Second Amendment and the human right to self-defense. Like Thomas Paine, he’s a journalist by profession and a propagandist by inclination.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Kalashikov Dude November 1, 2019, 5:20 pm

    Haha! I’d be out at the range that morning!

  • Toby Bridges November 1, 2019, 3:54 pm

    The flintlock musket in the photo looks like a gun built from mismatched parts. It does not accurately follow the pattern of either the .69 caliber French Charleville (the primary arm carried by Continental soldiers) … or the .75 caliber Brown Bess (the primary arm of British troops). It does closely resemble the Model 1766 Charleville … but looks to be something assembled from salvaged parts. Since the Battle of Bunker Hill was fought in 1775, early on during the Revolutionary War … there likely weren’t many “salvaged” parts. Personally, I would have been very, very suspect of the musket shown.

  • Chuck Newmister November 1, 2019, 1:34 pm

    Not (as) many will see it in Wyoming.

  • Robert Hyde November 1, 2019, 12:24 pm

    How can a person determine the value of a revolutionary musket?

    • Bob November 2, 2019, 11:36 pm

      send it to auction (like this one)

  • Scott Smith November 1, 2019, 9:02 am

    Kudos to the buyer for making the rifle available for public view.
    The stories this gun could tell if it could talk.

  • J Wesley Jennings November 1, 2019, 8:55 am

    Just looking at the picture of this gun is inspirational. God bless America!

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend