Bunker Hill Memorial

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June 17, 1775

Battle of Bunker Hill

As a result of the fighting at Lexington and Concord that began the American Revolution, Colonists surrounded and laid siege to Boston. Resolving to drive the British forces out of Boston, the Colonists built redoubts on Breed's Hill in Charlestown. (Although popularly known as the Battle of Bunker Hill, most of the battle took place on Breed's Hill, which is also the site of the 1842 monument seen in this photo.)

Here, on June 17, 1775, the resolve of the newly-formed Colonial army was put to the test, as the better-equipped British repeatedly assaulted them to dislodge them from their fortified position. The legendary order, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" epitomizes the challenge faced by the Colonists that day. However, it is uncertain as to who said it, since it is variously attributed to Putnam, Stark, or Prescott.

Although the British were victorious, it was hard-won. Of the 2,200 British forces engaged, almost half (1,034) were counted afterwards as casualties (killed and wounded.) The colonists had casualties between 400 and 600. The British government now realized that a large army would be needed if they wished to subdue their rebellious subjects.

For visitor information, see Boston National Historical Park's web site: www.nps.gov/bost

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