Battle of Bunker Hill (The American Revolution)

Battle of Bunker Hill June 17 1775 the

Battle of Bunker Hill which took place

on June 17 1775 was the first time New

England soldiers faced the British Army

in a pitched battle during the American


fought outside of Boston on the

Charlestown Peninsula the battle itself

took place in large part on breeds Hill

rather than nearby Bunker Hill

the landscape was hilly and comprised of

fenced pastures situated across the

Charles River from Boston an area which

would provide strategic advantage for

the New England soldiers when war broke

out in April 1775 Boston remained a

focal point for the British and colonial

forces two months after the battles of

Lexington and Concord more than 15,000

colonial troops had laid siege to the

British held port of Boston but it had

quickly become apparent to the rebels

that they had insufficient forces to

storm the Battlement of the well

defended city occupied by more than

5,000 British troops and to make matters

worse the British could send

reinforcements into Boston without any

form of interruption as the British Navy

was the biggest and best in the world

whereas the colonial American Navy was

near non-existent the British commander

of the city General Thomas Gage was

confident they could easily hold out

until the relief force could arrive to

relieve them but to be vigilant general

gage planned to occupy the hills around

Boston in order to deny the rebels the

opportunity to place artillery there

therefore denying the enemy the chance

to bombard both the city and the harbor

into submission by June 1775 British

troops received their orders to claim

the north and south of Boston which they

saw to be of significant strategic

advantage these plans were subsequently

leaked in the Massachusetts Provincial

Government in the hopes of gaining an

upper hand ordered a detachment of over

1,000 men to fortify both the

strategically important Bunker Hill and

neighboring breeds Hill that overlooked

the harbor at Boston owing to their

strategic position from which artillery

fire could penetrate the city breeds

Hill and Bunker Hill became a stronghold

for the colonial

forces led by Colonel William Prescott

nearly 1000 colonial militiamen

fortified breeds Hill which was closer

to Boston than Bunker Hill were only

minor defenses were built it's unknown

if Prescott ignored orders to fortify

the original target of Bunker Hill or

was simply ignorant of the geography

there his bunker Hill was the better

option being higher and more defensible

the rebels worked frantically through

the night fortifying their position

hastily constructing a small temporary

earthen redoubt with six foot high walls

and at the northern part of their

defenses they had even placed a stake

about 100 feet in front of their line

with the orders that once any British

troops moved past it they were to open

fire with their improved position it was

the hope that the provincial forces

could compel the British troops to leave

and evacuate their ships the colonists

were without a real navy and the

presence of the British Navy posed a

serious threat when British Major

General William Howe and Brigadier

General Robert Pickett heard about the

conus effort they made their way toward

breeds Hill with roughly 2,300 troops it

was not until just before sunrise the

next day that the British saw what was

truly going on general gage was shocked

to find a large and well-organized enemy

force now controlling the high ground

above Boston Harbor fighting was

initiated by the British Royal Navy's 20

gun post ship HMS lively and their

coastal batteries consisting of 128 guns

the first assault by the British proved


despite the superior naval power of the

British most of the cannon fire fell

short and was therefore largely

ineffective in bombarding the colonial

emplacements it had however managed to

scare many of Prescott's men who fled

the battlefield in fear but soon it

became apparent that the bombardment was

having little effect and it was just

wasting valuable ammunition so next it

was decided to quickly organize an

attack on the colonists troops position

fearing that they would place heavy

cannons there any time soon after much

deliberation on whether or not to

attempt to starve out the enemy forces

at breeds

Bunker Hill by cutting them off from the

mainland British General Thomas Gage

decided instead on a swift frontal

attack during this time Prescott's men

continued to fortify their position

expanding therefore they're preparing

for a frontal assault at midday that by

General William Howe British troops

began to launch their assault the

attacking British forces consisted of

companies of regular light infantry

grenadiers Zand Royal Navy Marines they

firmly believed that they were facing

ill-disciplined irregular part-time

militia which would be no match for

their professional and well-trained

British troops British forces hoped to

outflank their enemies by using the

initial wave of attack as a feint and to

send their second wave of men to march

to the right of the enemy's position

their force surrounding the resistance

inside the redoubt the colonial forces

were outnumbered and inexperienced but

managed to deter the British forces

initial attack many American soldiers at

the beginning of the Revolutionary War

were embattled farmers and untrained in


however the leadership of the colonial

forces proved effective it is said

Colonel Prescott had his men conserve

their ammunition instructing them don't

fire until you see the whites of their


mother Prescott actually said this or

not one major obstacle facing the

British was the landscape at all grass

leading up to the enemy's redoubt

covered much of the hazardous terrain

and obstacles that would hinder General

William house attack to make matters

worse for the British with Hampshire

Colonel John stark brought additional


the British marched in line formation

negotiating fences and other obstacles

in their way as they approached the

colonial forces line on their way there

they were harassed constantly by enemy

sniper fire from Charleston their

arrival was met with a fierce flood of

musket fire that initially caused the

British to retreat reportedly many of

the militiamen had experience on the

frontier and many of stars'

reinforcements were described as crack

shots who could bring down a swirl from

a high branch or stop a partridge in


one contemporary account that British

were described as having been mowed down

as if by the sudden sweep of a scythe

the British responded to their defeat by

shelling the village of Charleston

destroying many homes they hoped that

the fire caused by the shelling might

provide a smokescreen to disguise their

second advance the second assault by the

British was no less successful his

British soldiers struggle to march up

the hill towards the colonists

stronghold and a light breeze had

scattered their smokescreen they were

once again picked off by colonial

Musketeers and the British line was

broken despite these initial victories

the colonists lacked the initiative to

restock on troops and ammunition

the British were unsure whether or not

to renew their attack afraid of another

bloody defeat however General Howe

observed that to be forced to give up

Boston wood gentlemen would be very

disagreeable to all for their third

assault British troops were allowed to

shed their heavy packs facilitating

their movement up the hill they made

their way to the redoubt where American

militiamen shot what remaining

ammunition they had third assault by the

British and late afternoon met with much

more success though they had to charge

over the numerous dead bodies from the

previous assaults once the British had

broken through boodles hand-to-hand

combat ensued it was quickly over as

general gages well-trained British

troops used their bayonets and Sabres to

great effect against the colonial troops

who had no such weapons though the

rebels suffered heavy casualties while

retreating they felt back in good order

and avoided being encircled despite it

being a victory for the British having

taken the rebel-held position and

capturing or destroying the five of six

cannons the enemy had already brought up

onto the hills it was nevertheless a

bittersweet victory ultimately the

British won the so-called Battle of

Bunker Hill the American casualties were

around 450 soldiers while the British

casualties amounted to around 1,000

significantly the British lost a large

number of irreplaceable officers

including a leftenant Colonel two majors

and seven captains

despite their victory they suffered

heavy losses and acknowledged how

formidable their opponents were General

Howe lost all of his staff as casualties

during the battle later said that the

success is - dearly bought Bunker Hill

generally considered a Pyrrhic victory

an accomplishment negated by casualties

and the overall toll of the battle

prompted the British to change their

battle tactics these events forced the

British to consider the possibility of a

long drawn-out war against the American

colonists and a direct response to the

Battle of Bunker Hill the British King

George the third signed the proclamation

of rebellion this formally declared what

the colonists were doing was treason and

that the rebellion would be suppressed

by any means necessary