CHARLESTOWN, MASSACHUSETTS. 17 June 1775. Located on the peninsula opposite Boston, Charlestown was settled in 1630 and in 1775 had a population of 2,700 people. All but about 200 had evacuated the town when the siege of Boston started, and those remaining seem to have fled before the battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775. Parties of American soldiers, including detachments sent by Colonel William Prescott from his regiment at the redoubt on top of Breed's Hill, used the abandoned dwellings of Charlestown as cover from which to fire on the British left wing commanded by Brigadier General Robert Pigot. Samuel Graves, the vice admiral in command of the Royal Navy's North American squadron, commented:
The General [William Howe] observing the mischief his left wing sustained by the fire from Charles Town, the Admiral [Samuel Graves] asked him if he wished the place burned, and being answered yes, he immediately sent to the ships to fire red hot balls (which had been prepared with that view), and also to [the Royal Navy-manned] Copse [Copp's] Hill battery [at Boston] to desire they would throw carcasses into the town, and thereby it was instantly set on fire in many places, and the enemy quickly forced from that station. (French, p. 231)
Americans called this justifiable action an atrocity and pilloried Howe for burning the town. Charlestown was rebuilt after the British evacuated Boston in March 1776.
French, Allen. The First Year of the American Revolution. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1934.
Lossing, Benson J. The Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution. 2 vols. New York, 1851.
revised by Harold E. Selesky
"Charlestown, Massachusetts." Encyclopedia of the American Revolution: Library of Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 13, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/charlestown-massachusetts
"Charlestown, Massachusetts." Encyclopedia of the American Revolution: Library of Military History. . Retrieved February 13, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/charlestown-massachusetts
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.