Battle of Bunker Hill Summary
Written by Peter Fitzgerald
American Wars - War of independence
The Battle of Bunker Hill was a battle between the British and Americans during the American Revolutionary War on Breeds Hill in Charlestown, Massachusetts. This battle happened on the 17th June in the year 1775 so was very early on in this history changing conflict.
Many may not know of The Battle of Bunker Hill, but may know of the larger conflict this battle took part. The Battle of Bunker Hill was a battle that happened during the time of the Siege of Boston and had a big impact on the siege itself.
Prior to the Battle of Bunker (Breeds) Hill
Only a month before the Battle of Bunker Hill the British were reinforcing its troops with thousands more soldiers, this move made the Americans feel they needed more protection from a potential British attack.
On the 16th of June the Americans arrived and reviewed which hill would be a better defensive position and chose Breeds Hill, located next to Bunkers Hill. This decision was made because it was larger and also had some fortification in place.
Straight away the Americans set about fortifying Breeds Hill, something that caught the attention of the British. The first to notice the work was ground reconnaissance and sentries, but it was then noticed by a night-watchman on the British ship HMS Lively. The night-watchmen advised told the captain of the ship who opened fire on the fortification, but only for his senior commander to tell him to cease firing. The Americans then turned all their guns on the harbour and fired to great effect but without causing any damage or alarm to the British.
The British ground troops were now ordered to strengthen the flanks of the British defences. After this the British organized their troops and readied for battle. British reinforcements then arrived to support the assault.
The Battle of Bunker (Breeds) Hill Summary
At 3pm on the 17th June the British set off to do battle, this involved a march. During the march one column of the British line was caught under attack from snipers, this force was commanded by Brigadier General Pigot.
To alleviate the issues for Brigadier General Pigot the British fired incendiary shot into the village then sent a party to set fire to the village thus smoking out the rebel Americans firing on the British.
Another British commander called General Howe took his troops to attack the American left flank, the view was that this would be an easy victory but he was wrong. Leading his men along a small strip of Beach, Howe and his troops came under fire from a rogue volley; this caused them to volley back in return to no effect. The Americans lined up and used a strong fence to steady their muskets before causing terrible casualties to Howe’s men.
Pigot saw what happened and rather than coming to the aid of Howe decided to retreat. Once a safe distance away Pigot reformed the men and sent them to assault the American fortification, during this same time Howe changed his plan and marched his men who were not injured in a different direction where gun fire would not affect them.
This second attack proved to be futile like the first and it looked like the British were going to lose as their rear was in disarray.
The British General Howe was a resourceful man and decided one more attempt would be needed but he waited for another 400 or so reinforcement troops to arrive first. When they arrived the British made a full scale attack on the American fortifications, this attack was peppered with heavy fire. This heavy fire from the Americans fell silent after a while as they ran out of ammunition allowing the British to easy break into the defences and attack the Americans in hand to hand combat.
The British had bayonets on their muskets, something the Americans did not so the British were able to easily attack the Americans at will. The battle finished a great victory to the British, but it was at a huge price with the British losing 1054 killed or wounded to the Americans killed, wounded or captured.