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... better attacking position than at Bunker Hill. Regardless of the reason, the Battle of Bunker Hill actually took place on Breed's Hill. The fighting began as soon as the day did. As soon as the men on British frigate awoke they opened fire on the colonial fortifications. Carol McCabe states that one soldier wrote there would be firing for about twenty minutes, then a lull, then the ships would start firing again. At about 3:00 pm Thomas Gage, the British commander, ordered men to try and take control of the hill.
It took Gage this long to issue a command due to a shortage of boats and an unfavorable tide. Peter Brown, an American soldier, would later write about this, "There was a matter of 40 barges full of Regulars coming over to us; it is supposed there were about 3,000 of them and about 700 of us left not deserted, besides 500 reinforcements. . . the enemy landed and fronted before us and formed themselves in an oblong square. .
. and after they were well formed they advanced towards us, but they found a choakly [sic] mouthful of us (Here's to the Losers: page 2)." When the British forces were firmly established on the ground at the base of the hill they proceeded to charge. If you read the British letters and diaries, they expected to march up the hill and just scare the colonists away. The British Regulars advanced with bayonets fixed; many of their muskets were not even loaded. The British troops, wearing their bright red wool jackets and weighed down by heavy equipment, marched up hill over farm fields and low stone walls hidden in the tall grass. As the colonists saw this massive red line approach slowly and steadily, they remained calm and did not open fire. The fact they waited so long to commence an attack was that General Prescott has been assumed to have given the famous order, "Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes." If this command was given it would have been to either help preserve their already low ammunition supplies, and (or) to help keep the men from shooting out of their capable ranges.
Once the British came within range, the colonists began firing, and the British soldiers stated to fall rapidly. The British forces were driven back twice, but on their third and final thrust forward the British were able to break through the colonists' line, overrunning the tentative American fortifications, thus taking the hill. The colonists fled back up the peninsula since it was there only escape route. This battle, which lasted for approximately three hours, was one of the deadliest of the Revolutionary War. Although the British technically won the battle because they took control of the hill, they suffered too many losses to fully benefit from it. The British had suffered more than one thousand casualties out of the 2,300 or so who fought. While the colonists only suffered 400 to 600 casualties from an estimated 2,500 to 4,000 men (The Henderson Island Website). Besides having fewer deaths than the British, the colonists believe they had won in other ways as well. The Americans had proved to themselves, and the rest of the world that they could stand up to the British army in traditional warfare.
And only a few days later, George Washington would lead a group of men up to Dorchester Heights, aiming their canons at the British, and then watched the Red Coats retreat from the hill. So even though the British had won the battle, it was a short lived victory since the colonists took control of the hill again, but this time with more soldiers to defend it. The Battle of Bunker Hill was important for a variety of reasons. The first one being that it was the first battle of the Revolutionary War, and because of the fierce fighting that defined the battle it foreshadowed that it was going to be a long close war. Another important event that came from the battle was that it allowed the American troops to know that the British army was not invincible, and that they could defeat the British in traditional warfare. The losses experienced on the British side also helped to bolster the colonists confidence. So it came to be that the Battle of Bunker Hill would be the foundation that the colonists would look back to for the may battles that occurred during the American Revolution.
The first being that the British suffered heavy losses and would no longer be convinced of a victory when they went to battle the colonists. Rhode Island's Nathaniel Grenne summed up the general feeling of the battle by saying "I wish we could sell them [the British] another hill at the same price (Here's to the Losers. pg. 3)" Fifty years after the battle a movement began to rise in the young United States to create a memorial to the battle atop Breed's Hill. So, the Bunker Hill Memorial Association was formed and they bought fifteen acres of land atop of Breed's Hill. Then in 1825 the cornerstone to the monument was laid.
Through the course of the next 18 years the monument began to be constructed. It took this long to complete since the funding came from donations. The monument was slowly made from the granite taken from nearby Quincy. Even this close supply of rock did not keep the costs down. In order to finish the project, in 1839 the association had to sell ten acres of the land it had bought for the memorial in order to finance more work. The monument was finally dedicated on June 17, 1843 (68 years after the battle originally took place), and at the time Carol Mccabe says the monument had the national significance that the Washington Monument has today.
Bibliography: Bibliography 1. McCabe, Carol. "Here's to the Losers" http://www.thehistorynet.com/HistoricTraveler/arti cles/1998/03986 text.htm 1998. The History Net 2. Unknown Author. "Major John Pitcairn" http://220.127.116.11/we/Winthrop-web jump/majpit6.html Unknown year. Winthrop 3. Unknown author.
"Bunker Hill, Battle of" Encyclopedia Britannica. 1990. Encyclopedia Britannica inc. Chicago..
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