Bunker Hill

On June 17, 1775, before the Declaration of Independence was signed, the decisive battle for Bunker Hill was fought. It is named after, clearly, Bunker Hill, in Charleston, Massachusetts – and while Bunker Hill was more or less the objective, most of the fighting actually took places on Breed’s Hill right next to it. Israel Putnam and William Prescott led about 2,400 colonial troops against 3,000 British troops led by John Pitcairn and William Howe. The fight was very simple and short. British soldiers ran up the hills, while the defending colonists were ordered the famous line “do not shoot until you see the whites of their eyes.” This would take the British by surprise and would also make the British easier to hit, conserving ammunition. The British would run down the hill, and repeat the same routine twice again. However, the third time, the colonists ran out of ammunition and retreated. This led to a strong tactical victory for the British; however, they were not the ones celebrating. British troops suffered 1,054 casualties and colonists only had 450. This was very surprising considering the lack of colonist experience in fighting, and low numbers in their army. This battle was the beginning of the Revolutionary War – showing to not only the colonies, but also to King George and the rest of Great Britain that the colonies weren’t having a small mob running around. They were a force to be reckoned with and their persistence and willpower let the world know this Revolution was not only something the colonists cared about, but was something that would not go away as fast as it was originally thought to.

Decisive Day: The Battle of Bunker Hill by Richard Ketchum



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