June 17 - Bunker Hill Day

   Posted on June 17, 2022     

This is an update of my post published on June 17, 2011:

The famous Battle of Bunker Hill took place near Boston, Massachusetts, on this day in 1775.

It took place mostly on Breed's Hill!

The reason we refer to the battle as Bunker rather than Breed's Hill is because Bunker Hill had been the objective that both British and colonial forces wished to capture. The British “won” because they did take control of the hill. But it was what's known as a “Pyrrhic victory” (from the time of Ancient Rome) because their overall position didn't improve with the victory, and they suffered heavy losses. In other words, the seeds of the eventual defeat of the British in Boston may have been sown in this “victory.”

Which painting shows the American "Patriots"?
Which showed the British soldiers?
(Remember, the Brits were nicknamed "Redcoats.)

The Battle of Bunker Hill happened early in the American Revolutionary War, when George Washington and what would later be called the Continental Army surrounded the city of Boston, where the British army was garrisoned. The American army then laid siege on Boston, blocking the British forces from movement.

(Most of the “Patriots” – the people who agreed with the colonial rebellion against Britain – who lived in Boston left the city at the start of the siege, and many “Loyalists” – people who stayed loyal to King George III and British rule – who lived just outside of Boston fled into the city, at the beginning of the siege, for protection against the colonial forces.)

In order to break the siege, the British decided to occupy the unoccupied hills surrounding the city of Boston. But before the British made their move, colonial troops under William Prescott quietly moved onto both Bunker and Breed's Hills and built an earthen redoubt on Breed's.

The next morning, the British realized that American forces had taken the very hills they had decided to take, so they attacked. It took three assaults for the British to take Breed's Hill (basically, the colonial troops on the redoubt ran out of ammunition!), and then the Brits chased the colonial soldiers back over Bunker Hill as the colonial army retreated.

Because more than 1,150 British soldiers were killed and wounded, and 226 were killed, in the battle, the British did not have the strength to break the siege. The American colonial army suffered far fewer casualties (around 450), and the Americans proved that they were willing to fight regular British troops. So, although they lost the battle, they may have won psychologically. Certainly, the American army was able to keep up the Boston Siege for eleven months and eventually forced the British to abandon Boston.

To learn more about the Battle of Bunker Hill, go to British Battles-dot-com.

Bunker Hill Monument

Or watch this short video.

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