Battle of Bunker Hill

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Battle of Bunker Hill

The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on June 17, 1775. It was the first major battle of the American Revolution (1775–83). It is also called the Battle of Breed's Hill for the actual site of the clash.

The Battle of Bunker Hill had its roots in the colonial siege of Boston, Massachusetts . In an effort to get British soldiers out of the area, the colonists took control of the city. When they learned of a British plan to use troops to regain control, the colonists acted to stop them. Nearly fifteen hundred troops marched to Charlestown, just across the Charles River from Boston. There they embedded themselves on Breed's Hill, just below Bunker Hill, in the dark of night.

Barriers saved colonists

When the British discovered the colonists, they set out to displace them with an army of twenty-two hundred men. The colonists, however, were well protected behind barriers they had made. The colonists successfully defended themselves during two of the three British advances. During the first two, the British suffered great losses. During the third advance, the colonists were running out of ammunition and retreated.

War Slogans

The Battle of Bunker Hill is the source of the famous war slogan, “Don't shoot [or fire] until you see the whites of their eyes.” Historians debate who was the speaker of the command. Some say it was American General Israel Putnam (1718–1790), while others say it was Putnam's second-in-command, Colonel William Prescott (1726–1795). It also could have been an unidentified person lost in history.

The colonists suffered approximately 450 soldiers captured, wounded, or killed. Though the British pushed back the rebelling colonists, they suffered nearly 1,000 casualties, about half of their army. The British claimed victory, but the great number of casualties gave the colonists encouragement to continue fighting for their cause.