The Battle of Bunker Hill (1775)


The Battle of Bunker Hill (1775)

In June 1775, the Colonists discovered a British plan to occupy Bunker Hill as a strategic point to control Boston and Boston Harbor.  The Colonists raced to take possession of the hill.  With limited ammunition, Colonel Prescott is said to have ordered his men, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”  The British won the battle but suffered many casualties.  Here is the Massachusetts Committee of Safety’s account:

“… Orders were issued that a Detachment of one thousand Men [Colonial Troops/ Provincials] should march that Evening… and entrench upon… [Bunker] Hill; just before 9 o’clock [p.m.] they left Cambridge, and proceeded to Breeds Hill… for by some Mistake this Hill was marked out for the Entrenchment instead of the other…  it was nearly 12 o’clock[a.m.] before the Works were entered upon.  They were then carried on with the utmost Diligence… so that by the Dawn of the Day, they had thrown up a small Redoubt [earthen fort]…  [and] at this Time a heavy Fire began from the Enemy… an incessant Shower of Shot and Bombs…

Between 12 and 1 o’clock [p.m.] a Number of Boats and Barges filled with the regular Troops, from Boston, were observed approaching… [and] upon their landing… began a very slow March towards our Lines…  The Provincials… reserved their Fire till they came within [150’]… and then began a furious Discharge of small Arms; this Fire arrested the Enemy, which… then retreated in Disorder, and… some of them sought Refuge within their Boats; here their Officers were observed… using the most passionate Gestures, and pushing their Men forward with their Swords; at length they rallied and marched up with apparent Reluctance…

[On the third attempt, the British] attacked the Redoubt on three Sides at once… the Ammunition of the Provincials was expended…” The Comm. of Safety’s Account of The Battle of Bunker Hill, July 25, 1775