British plans to seize Bunker Hill reached colonial leaders in Massachusetts on June 13, 1775, colonial leaders in Massachusetts. Control of this site would enable the British to protect their base in Boston and allow them to continue to use the harbor. Without it the British would not be able to remain in Boston. The Colonials decided to move first.
On June 16, a Colonial force of less than 1,200 men crossed into Charlestown and fortified Breed's Hill first. Between the original landing and the start of the battle additional troops would join the fortification, bringing the total number of colonial forces to approximately 2,400.
Breed's Hill was smaller and more easily accessible. The primary fortification was made on Breed's Hill. The reason given was that retreat from Breed's Hill would be safer.
Early in the morning on June 17 the British noticed that the Colonials were reinforcing Breed's Hill. British war ships opened fire, but had no impact. The British moved over 3,000 troops from Boston to Charlestown on the morning of June 17. Once all of the forces were assembled the British attacked. It took three attempts for the British to gain control of Breed's Hill. Knowing that the Colonials were short on ammunition, the Colonial generals instructed the troops, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" This strategy proved useful in repelling the first two attempts. The Colonial ammunition had run out by the third attempt and the British were able to take Breed's Hill. It came at a heavy cost. Over 1,000 British were killed or wounded during the battle compared to over 400 Colonials.
1794 - 18 foot wooden pillar erected by King Solomon's Lodge of Masons on Breed's Hill to honor Dr. Joseph Warren
1823 - Bunker Hill Monument Association formed to construct a more permanent monument
1842 - Existing monument completed on Breed's Hill
1843 - Existing monument dedicated on June 17
1974 - Designated as a National Park with other sites in Boston
2007 - Museum completed
The monument and museum are located in Charlestown, MA. See map below.
My wife, children, niece, nephew, sister-in-law, and mother visited the monument as part of a trip into Boston to walk the Freedom trail. My children were focused on getting their Jr. Ranger badges by completing the activity book. At the time of their visit, the monument was being repaired and the could not go to the top. They were able to have a picnic lunch on the grass surrounding the monument. The picture below was taken by my wife. You can see the fence around the base of the monument.
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