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Batalla de Bunker Hill, 17 de junio de 1775

Batalla de Bunker Hill, 17 de junio de 1775


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Batalla de Bunker Hill

La primera batalla importante de la Guerra de Independencia de Estados Unidos. A raíz de Lexington y Concord, las fuerzas británicas bajo el mando de Thomas Gage quedaron atrapadas en Boston, y luego todavía restringidas a una península en el medio del puerto de Boston. Las grandes pérdidas sufridas al regresar de Concord habían desanimado a Gage, quien permitió a los estadounidenses fortalecer un número creciente de posiciones alrededor del puerto. El 26 de mayo, varios regimientos de tropas británicas llegaron a Boston, junto con tres generales de división que iban a desempeñar un papel importante en la guerra: William Howe, Henry Clinton y John Burgoyne.

Los tres nuevos comandantes estaban consternados por la falta de actividad de Gage y lograron despertarlo a una ofensiva limitada destinada a asegurar Boston mediante la captura de terrenos elevados en Charlestown al norte y Dorchester al sur. Las noticias del plan británico llegaron a los estadounidenses, que decidieron tomar medidas preventivas. En la noche del 16 al 17 de junio, una fuerza estadounidense de unos 1.200 hombres bajo el mando del coronel William Prescott se trasladó a Breed's Hill, en lugar de a Bunker Hill, un poco más alto.

Al mismo tiempo, Clinton estaba haciendo un reconocimiento del área antes del planeado avance británico. A su regreso, abogó por un ataque inmediato al amanecer del día 17, pero Gage, creyendo que la medida estadounidense era temporal, rechazó la idea. Pronto quedó claro que la medida estadounidense era seria. Clinton sugiere ahora un ataque británico de dos frentes, aprovechando su supremacía naval, con una fuerza aterrizando en la costa sur de la península, aproximadamente donde se llevaría a cabo el eventual ataque, apoyado por un segundo aterrizaje detrás de la posición estadounidense. Gage también rechazó esta idea y, en cambio, decidió que una sola fuerza de 2.200 hombres aterrizara frente a las posiciones estadounidenses y lanzara un ataque frontal contra los rebeldes.

Quizás alentados por el desempeño generalmente pobre de las tropas coloniales durante la Guerra de los Siete Años, los generales británicos fueron muy condenatorios con sus oponentes estadounidenses: Burgoyne los describió como una `` chusma indisciplinada '', de la que se podía esperar que se derrumbara bajo el ataque de los soldados regulares. El ataque fue comandado por el general Howe, quien tenía fama de experto en operaciones anfibias y de infantería ligera. En esta ocasión, sus habilidades deben haberlo abandonado. Los británicos tardaron dos horas en desplegarse, e incluso entonces la artillería estaba mal desplegada y tuvo poco o ningún impacto en la batalla.

Cuando finalmente llegó el primer ataque británico, fue un desastre. La táctica británica estándar para atacar fortificaciones era avanzar en columnas, con francotiradores entre ellos para disparar a los defensores y, al final, apresurar las defensas en línea. Howe decidió avanzar en la fila en su lugar. A los británicos se les permitió acercarse a las líneas estadounidenses antes de ser sometidos a un fuego devastador que destrozó el primer ataque. La misma suerte corrió con un segundo ataque, aunque Howe había vuelto a las columnas. Fue solo cuando los estadounidenses comenzaron a quedarse sin municiones que el tercer ataque británico pudo romper sus defensas y entablar la lucha de bayoneta en la que Howe había estado confiando. En este punto, las tropas británicas estaban agotadas por sus esfuerzos, y esto se combinó con un fuego de cobertura de los tiradores afilados estadounidenses para evitar una persecución exitosa.

Mientras que los estadounidenses habían sufrido muchas bajas, con 150 muertos y 270 heridos, las pérdidas británicas habían sido mucho peores, con 226 muertos y 828 heridos. Los británicos en Boston estaban completamente desmoralizados por su victoria. Quedó claro que no podían permitirse más acciones contra las posiciones estadounidenses alrededor de Boston, dando a los estadounidenses una libertad de movimiento efectiva, tanto alrededor de Boston como en las otras colonias, donde el control británico se perdió rápidamente. Gage y luego Howe sobrestimaron persistentemente la fuerza de las fuerzas estadounidenses que los rodeaban, viendo al menos 10,000 hombres en todo momento, una cifra que habría sorprendido a Washington, quien era muy consciente de la debilidad de su fuerza durante el invierno de 1775. El estadounidense Stand en Bunker Hill jugó un papel importante en convencer a los británicos de la debilidad de su posición. En septiembre se ordenó a Gage que se trasladara de Boston a un puerto más adecuado para la armada, pero no fue hasta marzo siguiente cuando su ejército, ahora comandado por Howe, hizo un movimiento. Bunker Hill había mantenido efectivamente inactivo al principal ejército británico en América del Norte durante casi un año.


Ver tambiénLibros sobre la Guerra de Independencia de Estados UnidosÍndice temático: Guerra de independencia estadounidense


Batalla de Bunker Hill, 17 de junio de 1775 - Historia

La batalla de Bunker Hill tuvo lugar el 17 de junio de 1775, pocos meses después del inicio de la Guerra de Independencia de los Estados Unidos.

Boston estaba siendo sitiada por miles de milicianos estadounidenses. Los británicos intentaban mantener el control de la ciudad y controlar su valioso puerto marítimo. Los británicos decidieron tomar dos colinas, Bunker Hill y Breed's Hill, para obtener una ventaja táctica. Las fuerzas estadounidenses se enteraron y fueron a defender las colinas.

¿Dónde tuvo lugar la batalla?

Esta parece la pregunta más fácil de todas, ¿no es así? Bueno en realidad no. Había dos colinas que los británicos querían tomar para poder bombardear a los estadounidenses desde la distancia. Estos fueron Breed's Hill y Bunker Hill. La batalla de Bunker Hill en realidad tuvo lugar principalmente en Breed's Hill. Solo se llama Batalla de Bunker Hill porque el ejército pensó que estaban en Bunker Hill. Una especie de error gracioso y es una buena pregunta con trampa.


Monumento de Bunker Hill por Ducksters
Puedes visitar Bunker Hill y subir a la cima de
el monumento para una vista de la ciudad de Boston

Los británicos fueron conducidos colina arriba por el general William Howe. Los estadounidenses estaban dirigidos por el coronel William Prescott. ¡Quizás esto debería haberse llamado la Batalla de Williams! El mayor John Pitcairn también fue uno de los líderes británicos. Estaba al mando de las tropas que iniciaron la lucha en Lexington que inició la Guerra Revolucionaria. Desde el lado estadounidense, Israel Putnam era el general a cargo. Además, el destacado patriota Dr. Joseph Warren fue parte de la batalla. Murió durante los combates.

¿Qué pasó en la batalla?

Las fuerzas estadounidenses se enteraron de que los británicos planeaban apoderarse de las colinas alrededor de Boston para obtener una ventaja táctica. Como resultado de esta información, los estadounidenses trasladaron en secreto sus tropas a Bunker y Breed's Hill, dos colinas desocupadas a las afueras de Boston en Charlestown, Massachusetts. Construyeron fortificaciones durante la noche y se prepararon para la batalla.

Al día siguiente, cuando los británicos se dieron cuenta de lo sucedido, los británicos atacaron. Su comandante William Howe encabezó tres cargas hasta Breed's Hill. Los estadounidenses contraatacaron los dos primeros cargos, pero comenzaron a quedarse sin municiones y tuvieron que retirarse en el tercer cargo. Los británicos ganaron la colina, pero sus costos fueron grandes. Alrededor de 226 británicos murieron y 800 resultaron heridos, mientras que los estadounidenses no sufrieron tantas bajas.

Aunque los británicos ganaron la batalla y se hicieron con el control de las colinas, pagaron un alto precio. Perdieron cientos de soldados, incluidos varios oficiales. Esto les dio a los estadounidenses el valor y la confianza de que podían enfrentarse a los británicos en la batalla. Muchos más colonos se unieron al ejército después de esta batalla y la revolución continuó creciendo en fuerza.


Bola de cañón de Bunker Hill por Ducksters
Una bala de cañón desenterrada de Bunker Hill

La batalla de Bunker Hill, 17 de junio de 1775

Al comienzo de la guerra abierta, 20.000 milicianos de Nueva Inglaterra se reunieron bajo el mando del General Artemis Ward y rodearon Boston. Los estadounidenses supieron a través de espías que el gobernador británico y el general Thomas Gage tenían la intención de ocupar la península de Charlestown y las alturas estratégicas que dominan Boston. Dos días antes de la mudanza de Gage, siguiendo el consejo del general Israel Putnam, 1000 colonos al mando de William Prescott y Richard Gridley con dos pequeños cañones construyeron por la noche un reducto en Breed's Hill.

La muerte del general Warren en la batalla de Bunker Hill. Por John Trumbull & # 8211 Del Museo de Bellas Artes de Boston. La imagen es de dominio público a través de Wikimedia.com

La posición en Bunker Hill al norte de Boston estaba en la línea del avance británico planificado y directamente bajo la observación británica, el establecimiento encubierto y necesariamente apresurado de la posición limitaba la cantidad de alimentos y municiones que los estadounidenses tenían a mano. Los barcos británicos comenzaron un bombardeo ineficaz a la luz del día, Gage y sus generales decidieron un ataque inmediato antes de que los estadounidenses pudieran vincular la nueva fortificación con las demás. Las mareas, el viento, los bajíos y la altura obstaculizaron los esfuerzos de la Royal Navy británica para ayudar al ataque del ejército. La primera dificultad británica para lanzar un asalto de infantería sobre la posición fue asegurar suficiente transporte acuático para desembarcar la fuerza asignada de Gage de 2600 hombres, la primera oleada británica de 1000 soldados avanzó y llevó a Ward a reforzar la posición estadounidense a 1400 hombres, mientras que Prescott Trató frenéticamente de reafirmar la resolución de sus tropas verdes y anclar su línea en el Mystic River. Los británicos no pudieron explorar la línea de su ataque planeado, que estaba cruzado con crestas pedregosas, hierba alta y vallas. El general Putnam hizo todo lo posible para solidificar a los defensores estadounidenses, que en algunos casos vacilaron entre huir antes del ataque o atacar fuera de las defensas.

Las fuerzas británicas adicionales que desembarcaron en Charlestown fueron atacadas por los estadounidenses y tomaron represalias quemando la ciudad. El plan británico, seguido repetidamente en el transcurso de la guerra subsiguiente, era flanquear a los estadounidenses para sacarlos de su posición; en este caso, la derecha británica encontró vallas y un bien diseñado
Posición estadounidense vertiendo un fuego eficaz en su avance a pesar del bombardeo de artillería británica. Con el movimiento de flanqueo fallando, Charlestown en conflagración y acercándose la noche, Gage ordenó a toda su fuerza en un ataque precipitado por Bunker Hill.

La célebre orden estadounidense fue: "No dispare" hasta que vea el blanco de sus ojos "y, con parapetos, muros y vallas para estabilizarlos, los estadounidenses la obedecieron, maximizando la eficacia de sus suministros mínimos de munición. Cuando la fuerza británica retrocedió con bajas, el general Henry Clinton se movió a través de la quema de Charlestown y lanzó otro ataque contra la izquierda estadounidense, victoriosa hasta ahora, pero ahora buscando municiones entre los caídos.

1775 mapa del área de Boston (contiene algunas inexactitudes). Por J. DeCosta & # 8211 De la Biblioteca del Congreso American Memory. La imagen es de dominio público a través de Wikimedia.com

La artillería británica finalmente despejó a los defensores estadounidenses y los británicos finalmente arriaron el flanco estadounidense. Ambos lados recurrieron a la bayoneta mientras los estadounidenses se retiraban lentamente, sufriendo 310 bajas y 30 prisioneros, habiendo infligido 1053 bajas británicas. A pesar de los esfuerzos de la infantería ligera británica para explotar la retirada de los estadounidenses, quedaron suficientes refuerzos y resistencia para detener el avance, lo que llevó a un estancamiento en la península en la que se había librado la batalla de Bunker Hill.

Ambas partes consideraron el enfrentamiento como una victoria clásica "pírrica", una que no valió la pena para el lado británico victorioso. Los estadounidenses encontraron un grito de batalla y una sensación de confianza en el enfrentamiento, en el que números inexpertos se habían enfrentado, luchado y ensangrentado a uno de los mejores ejércitos del mundo. El escenario estaba preparado para más años de lucha sanguinaria.

Dr. Chris McNab es el editor de AMERICAN BATTLES & amp CAMPAIGNS: A Chronicle, desde 1622 hasta el presente y es un especialista experimentado en técnicas de supervivencia urbana y en la naturaleza. Ha publicado más de 20 libros que incluyen: How to Survive Anything, Anywhere & # 8212 una enciclopedia de técnicas de supervivencia militares y civiles para todos los entornos & # 8212 Special Forces Endurance Techniques, First Aid Survival Manual y The Handbook of Urban Survival. En su país natal de Gales, Reino Unido, Chris brinda instrucción sobre técnicas de caza en la naturaleza y también es un experimentado instructor de artes marciales.


La noche en que los veteranos de Vietnam asaltaron Bunker Hill

Los miembros de Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) votaron para permanecer en Lexington Green en desafío a una orden del gobierno local de desalojar, el 30 de mayo de 1971. VVAW fueron sometidos a un arresto masivo, pero obtuvieron el apoyo de los residentes de la ciudad que los llevaron a el monumento Bunker Hill en Charlestown para continuar la marcha del grupo desde Concord hasta Boston. Foto Richard Robbat.

Citando las continuas preocupaciones de salud pública sobre COVID-19, la ciudad de Boston se ha negado nuevamente este año a emitir un permiso que permita que el desfile anual y siempre muy esperado del Día de Bunker Hill continúe por las calles de Charlestown.

La pausa es una oportunidad para recordar la historia de las fiestas y los rsquos y el verano de hace cincuenta años, cuando el país estaba tan dividido políticamente como lo está hoy, hasta que los Veteranos de Vietnam contra la Guerra, o VVAW, insistieron en celebrar el Día de Bunker Hill temprano.

El Día de Bunker Hill estaba inicialmente destinado a conmemorar el papel que desempeñó Massachusetts en la garantía de la independencia de la nación y los rsquos. Luchada el 17 de junio de 1775, la batalla de Bunker Hill fue una victoria pírrica para los imperiales británicos. El Ejército Continental recién formado se vio obligado a retirarse, pero no antes de infligir suficiente daño que las fuerzas británicas se limitaron a Boston. Famoso luchado en las cercanías de Breed & rsquos Hill, el aniversario de la batalla y rsquos se celebró por primera vez con un desfile en 1785. En el quincuagésimo aniversario, la recién formada Bunker Hill Monument Association organizó el primer Día de Bunker Hill. Si bien era una festividad local entonces como ahora, toda la nación la celebró en 1843, cuando se dedicó el obelisco de granito de 221 pies de la Asociación & rsquos.

Después de que los inmigrantes irlandeses se mudaron al vecindario en el último cuarto del siglo XIX, Charlestown se convirtió en "el único lugar del planeta", como señaló el famoso actor Will Rogers, "donde los irlandeses celebran una victoria militar británica". Un dibujante de esa época fue se le pidió que hiciera un dibujo del obelisco con las palabras & ldquoErected por los irlandeses en memoria de Patrick O & rsquoBunker de Cork. Las celebraciones llegaron a incluir compañías de recreadores que marchaban con atuendos coloniales al ritmo del pífano y el tambor, así como elementos de la cultura campesina irlandesa, incluidos carnavales, fuegos artificiales y alcohol. Como dijo el periodista J. Anthony Lukas, Bunker Hill Day se convirtió en una "exuberante declaración de la independencia de Charlestown del resto del mundo".

Los finales de los sesenta y principios de los setenta fueron años difíciles para Charlestown. Para consternación de muchos padres blancos, la legislatura de Massachusetts insistía en la eliminación de la segregación escolar. Y, como barrio de clase trabajadora, Charlestown estaba enviando un número desproporcionado de sus niños a luchar en el sudeste asiático. La comunidad de Charleston se involucró en el activismo en nombre de los esfuerzos contra los autobuses, a veces recurriendo a la violencia; sin embargo, pocos se unieron a lo que se convirtió en el movimiento contra la guerra más vocal y sostenido en la historia de Estados Unidos por temor a dañar la moral de las tropas.

Nadie podía predecir cómo respondería esta comunidad, muy nerviosa en la primavera de 1971, el domingo por la noche del fin de semana del Día de los Caídos cuando no los británicos, sino una ola de veteranos estadounidenses de Vietnam barrieron Breed & rsquos Hill hacia el obelisco de los irlandeses. Los estadounidenses de Charlestown habían hecho los suyos.

Cuarenta y ocho horas antes, más de cien miembros de VVAW vestidos con uniformes de la jungla habían comenzado una marcha de tres días que tenía la intención de volver sobre el mítico paseo de medianoche de Paul Revere y rsquos en reversa. Al igual que Revere, los veteranos pacifistas buscaban llevar un mensaje a la gente, en su caso de que el país había revertido vergonzosamente su curso anterior y se había convertido en el tipo de agresor imperial que los colonos habían luchado por vencer. La ruta de la marcha pasó por cuatro campos de batalla de la Guerra Revolucionaria donde los veteranos planeaban demostrar su respeto patriótico por sus hermanos de armas coloniales mientras ilustraban con sus heridas físicas y espíritus angustiados lo lejos que había caído la nación de sus ideales fundacionales.

La marcha de VVAW & rsquos comenzó sin incidentes en Concord, donde los funcionarios del Servicio de Parques Nacionales habían otorgado a los veteranos permiso para acampar junto al Old North Bridge, y la gente del pueblo sirvió a los veteranos una abundante cena. En marcado contraste, los Lexington Selectmen (el equivalente de Massachusetts a un ayuntamiento) se negaron a conceder a los veteranos permiso para acampar la segunda noche de la marcha en la ciudad sagrada Battle Green. Con la intención de castigar a los veteranos por lo que luego describió como desinflar los ánimos de las tropas que aún estaban en peligro, el presidente de la Junta de Selectores ordenó un arresto masivo.

Cuando los veteranos fueron liberados de la cárcel provisional de la ciudad y los rsquos y habían pagado su multa en la corte del condado, consideraron saltarse Bunker Hill, el último campo de batalla de la Guerra Revolucionaria en su itinerario. El arresto masivo había tomado mucho tiempo y ahora corrían el riesgo de llegar tarde a la manifestación contra la guerra del Día de los Caídos en Boston Common a la que habían invitado al público.

Más preocupante era el hecho de que Charlestown podría no ser tan acogedor como las élites liberales de Lexington, muchas de las cuales habían decidido ser arrestadas con los veteranos y que luego se asegurarían de que el presidente no fuera reelegido.

Durante una cena preparada para ellos por una de las congregaciones de Lexington & rsquos, los veteranos conversaron sobre qué hacer. Animado por los medios nacionales y la cobertura comprensiva de los rsquos del arresto masivo, un veterano herido que vive en el hospital de Bedford VA instó a los veteranos a seguir adelante.

"Ya hemos comenzado la Batalla de Lexington", se entusiasmó con el éxito de VVAW hasta el momento en dar rienda suelta a la energía que dio a luz a la nación. & ldquoTodo el país lo sabe. Así que vayamos a Bunker Hill. & Rdquo

El problema del tiempo perdido se resolvió haciendo autostop a Charlestown de sus seguidores de Lexington. Desembarcando en Sullivan Square para poder acercarse respetuosamente al campo de batalla de Bunker Hill a pie como los descendientes de los que lucharon y murieron allí, algunos de los veteranos recordaron más tarde sentirse muy preocupados por cómo serían recibidos.

"¿Será comida y aceptación o palos y piedras?", se preguntó uno.

Cuando los veteranos comenzaron cuesta arriba cargando los M16 de juguete de aspecto muy real que habían traído de Concord como señal de su autoridad para hablar sobre la guerra, las ventanas de los edificios de viviendas que flanqueaban las calles estrechas se abrieron y los vítores estallaron en ellos. Los veteranos habían servido junto a los propios hijos de Charlestown y rsquos y estaban siendo honrados como tales. Minutos después, cuando los veteranos pisaron el terreno sagrado donde tantos estadounidenses habían muerto para que sus hijos pudieran ser libres, los residentes de Charlestown & rsquos dieron testimonio silencioso de cómo los veteranos rechazaron ceremoniosamente sus armas en un mensaje de que la guerra debía terminar.

"Los amamos y estamos felices de estar aquí con ustedes", exclamó uno de los veteranos aún atónitos a estos nuevos partidarios que horas antes de VVAW consideraban evitarlo. & ldquoDebemos comenzar a compartir unos con otros la paz que necesitamos ahora mismo. & rdquo

A la mañana siguiente, cuando los veteranos salieron de sus tiendas, innumerables residentes regresaron a su lado, ofreciendo comida y café para impulsar el último empujón de los veteranos hacia Boston.

Hace cincuenta años este verano, el Día de Bunker Hill fue celebrado temprano por los residentes de Charlestown & rsquos y una nueva generación de activistas pacifistas que se unieron en torno a la idea de que la guerra de Vietnam no reflejaba los valores por los que los colonos dieron sus vidas en Breed & rsquos Hill ni los de la comunidad irlandesa-estadounidense de Bunker Hill cuyos niños se vieron obligados a luchar contra ella. Fue una victoria para VVAW y el movimiento contra la guerra tan grande como los que se celebran tradicionalmente en el Día de Bunker Hill.


Batalla de Bunker Hill

El 17 de junio de 1775, los colonos estadounidenses infligieron grandes bajas británicas en su pérdida en la batalla de Bunker Hill.

Después de las batallas de Lexington y Concord, los colonos estadounidenses sellaron el acceso a Boston por tierra. Aunque el ejército británico todavía controlaba las vías fluviales, a los oficiales les preocupaba que los colonos bombardearan la ciudad desde las colinas circundantes. Los británicos planearon atacar a los colonos para alejarlos de Boston.

El Congreso Provincial de Massachusetts recibió la noticia de que los regulares británicos iban a atacar. Los colonos decidieron fortificar Bunker Hill para proteger la península de Charlestown al norte de Boston. En la noche del 16 de junio de 1775, el coronel William Prescott llevó a 1.200 hombres a la península para los preparativos. Después de algunas discusiones, se eligió a Breed's Hill para la posición defensiva porque estaba más cerca de Boston que de Bunker Hill. Construyeron una fortificación cuadrada con muros de tierra de 6 pies de altura.

Estados Unidos # 1056 es una versión en espiral del sello anterior.

Cuando el general Gage, comandante de los regulares británicos, vio las fortificaciones a la mañana siguiente, el 17 de junio, decidió atacar ese día. Los Abrigos Rojos tardaron casi seis horas en reunirse y varias horas más en transportarlos a través del río Charles. A las 3:00 p.m., finalmente estaban listos para atacar.

Mientras tanto, los colonos continuaron extendiendo su defensa por las laderas de la colina usando tierra, postes de cerca y heno. Llegaron refuerzos y llenaron algunos de los huecos a lo largo de la línea de los colonos. Sabiendo que estaban escasos de municiones, el coronel Stark, líder de los regimientos de New Hampshire, colocó una estaca a unos 30 metros de la cerca y ordenó a sus hombres que no dispararan hasta que los británicos pasaran la marca.

Los Abrigos Rojos se acercaron a Breed's Hill en largas columnas. Cuando estuvieron dentro del alcance, los colonos dispararon contra ellos e infligieron muchas bajas. Los británicos se retiraron, se reagruparon y atacaron nuevamente con los mismos resultados.

Estados Unidos # 1351 - Aunque se llama la bandera de Bunker Hill, muchos historiadores creen que los colonos no llevaron esta bandera allí.

Después de que llegaron los refuerzos, los Abrigos Rojos hicieron un tercer intento de tomar la colina. Los colonos se estaban quedando sin municiones y se retiraron. Los británicos obtuvieron el control de la península de Charlestown, pero pagaron un precio terrible: 226 murieron y 828 resultaron heridos, casi un tercio de los soldados que participaron en la batalla.

Estados Unidos # 1564 retrata la muerte del general Joseph Warren en Bunker Hill.

El coronel Prescott demostró ser un líder capaz de las fuerzas coloniales. Antes de la batalla, según los informes, les dijo a sus hombres: "No disparen hasta que les veas el blanco de los ojos". Aunque sus hombres estaban mal entrenados y tenían poca munición, sirvieron como defensa central de Estados Unidos en la batalla de Bunker Hill.

Entre las bajas estadounidenses ese día estaba el general Joseph Warren. En la foto de U.S. # 1564, Warren era un médico de Massachusetts. Organizó patriotas en Boston al estallar la guerra y se desempeñó como presidente del Congreso Provincial de Massachusetts. También puso a Paul Revere en su famoso paseo de medianoche y luchó en Lexington y Concord. Aunque fue nombrado Mayor General pocos días antes de la Batalla de Bunker Hill, Warren optó por luchar junto a sus soldados.

Estados Unidos # 1361 se emitió para honrar a Trumbull y retrata a Thomas Grosvenor de la misma pintura que la anterior.

La batalla de Bunker Hill, que en realidad tuvo lugar en Breed's Hill, demostró que las milicias coloniales sin experiencia podían enfrentarse a los británicos bien entrenados. Aumentó el apoyo a la independencia de las colonias que antes estaban indecisas. Esta temprana batalla de la Guerra Revolucionaria dio a los colonos el valor para continuar en su lucha por la independencia.

Haga clic aquí para ver la pintura de John Trumbull de Bunker Hill que aparece en los dos últimos sellos de este artículo.


Opciones de acceso

Este ensayo tiene su origen en un trabajo de posgrado escrito bajo la dirección del Prof. Louis Masur en Graduate Center, City University of New York. Agradezco al profesor Masur las ideas que ofreció en este seminario y en los ensayos citados en el texto.

1. Para ejemplos de interpretaciones y comentarios de historiadores del arte, véase Prown, Jules David, “John Trumbull as History Painter”, en John Trumbull: The Hand and the Spirit, ed. Cooper, Helen (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), 22 - 92 Google Scholar Jaffe, Irma, John Trumbull: Patriot-Artist of the American Revolution (Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1975) Google Scholar Boime, Albert, El arte de la exclusión: Representar a los negros en el siglo XIX (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990) Google Scholar y Masur, Louis P., "'Las imágenes se han convertido en una necesidad': El uso de imágenes en los libros de texto de historia estadounidense", Journal of American History 84 (03 1998): 1409 –24CrossRefGoogle Scholar. El tratamiento de Masur de John Singleton Copley Watson y el tiburón toma la iniciativa en este sentido (véase Masur, “Reading Watson y el tiburón , ”New England Quarterly 67 [09 1994]: 427 –53) CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2. Trumbull, John, Auto retrato (1812-1816) Google Scholar, óleo sobre lienzo, y Samuel Lovett Waldo y William Jewett, El "Patriota-Artista" (ca. 1821), óleo sobre lienzo, Galería de Arte de la Universidad de Yale, New Haven, Connecticut. Prown fecha incorrectamente el autorretrato como ca. 1802. Jaffe está desconcertado por lo que Trumbull sostiene en su mano derecha, confundiéndolo con una lupa y anteojos. Una inspección minuciosa del lienzo original revela la empuñadura de una espada (ver Prown, "John Trumbull", 159 Google Scholar y Jaffe, John Trumbull, 229 Google Scholar).

3. Trumbull, John, La autobiografía del coronel John Trumbull, Patriot-Artist, 1756–1843, ed. Sizer, Theodore (Nueva York: Kennedy Graphics, 1970), 3 - 6, 9 Google Scholar.


Batalla de Bunker Hill, 1775

El monumento conmemorativo del campo de batalla de Breed's Hill ocupa hoy alrededor de cuatro acres y está rodeado de lujosos apartamentos y condominios de cuatro pisos, cuyo edificio fue parte de los esfuerzos de recaudación de fondos para financiar la construcción del monumento. La colina está coronada por un obelisco conmemorativo de 221 pies de altura, con 294 escalones hasta la cima, y ​​está designado como "monumento nacional", bajo la administración del Servicio de Parques Nacionales. Se completó en 1843 y se renovó en 2007. En 1775, cuando las tropas estadounidenses ocuparon las alturas, inicialmente invirtieron Bunker Hill, pero se dieron cuenta de que Breed's Hill se podía defender mejor, por lo que se trasladaron allí. La confusión de nombres ha persistido hasta el día de hoy. Pero no hay confusión sobre lo que sucedió allí.


El Tour 2016 montado en Lexington Green bajo el Monumento al Hombre Minute

En abril de 1775, comenzó la Guerra por la Independencia de Estados Unidos en Lexington y Concord, no lejos de Boston. Pocas personas se dieron cuenta en ese momento de que la revuelta en Massachusetts se extendería a las trece colonias, se declararía la independencia más de un año después y comenzaría una guerra de ocho años. La batalla de Bunker Hill resultaría ser el punto decisivo sin retorno.

Tras las batallas de abril entre los granjeros provinciales y los habitantes de las ciudades, en su apogeo unos 15.000 hombres ocuparon posiciones alrededor de la ciudad para mantener a sus enemigos acorralados. La guarnición inglesa de unos 6.000 al mando del general Thomas Gage planeaba expulsar al advenedizo ejército estadounidense tan pronto como llegaron refuerzos. La península de Charlestown se adentraba en los ríos Mystic y Charles a solo mil metros de Boston, un peligroso punto estratégico que ambos lados se preparaban para tomar. El 16 de junio, el coronel William Prescott condujo a 1.500 hombres a través del cuello de Charlestown, alrededor de Bunker Hill para fortificar Breed's Hill, de 62 pies de altura, justo encima de la ciudad.


Mapa de la península de Charlestown flanqueada por los ríos Mystic y Charles

Los hombres de Prescott construyeron un reducto de dos metros de altura con un escalón de madera para disparar y luego trincheras que flanqueaban las laderas de la colina para resistir los ataques flanqueantes. La flota británica intentó detener el trabajo con fuego de artillería, pero fue en vano. Los generales británicos Howe y Pigot decidieron llevar a sus hombres a través del río hasta las llanuras sobre la ciudad y atacar las fortificaciones. Ambos bandos pidieron refuerzos cuando vieron el tamaño de las fuerzas opuestas y no se llevó a cabo ninguna acción hasta que Prescott fue aumentado por hombres de Connecticut y New Hampshire, así como por el gran líder patriota Joseph Warren. Con la adición del 47th Foot (más tarde conocido como Lancashires) y el 1st Marines, los Redcoats se formaron para el asalto.

Los ataques comenzaron a las 3 p.m. y los dos primeros ataques británicos se detuvieron con grandes pérdidas. Varios hombres en las líneas estadounidenses estaban confundidos y dando vueltas, la mayoría luchaba por sus vidas. El tercer ataque británico llevó las obras y la lucha se convirtió en un cuerpo a cuerpo con los casacas rojas que tenían la ventaja con su pericia con la bayoneta. El general Warren murió en el lado estadounidense y el mayor Pitcairn, que había comenzado la guerra en Lexington, cayó en el lado británico. Los estadounidenses retrocedieron de una manera relativamente ordenada, habiendo infligido más de mil bajas en uno de los mejores ejércitos del planeta, lo más que sufriría Inglaterra en una batalla en la guerra.


La batalla de Bunker Hill, por Percy Moran

La batalla resultaría ser una bonanza propagandística para la causa estadounidense y una severa advertencia al rey de que los rudos rústicos estadounidenses se opondrían a un ejército profesional cuando estuvieran bien dirigidos.


La verdadera historia de la batalla de Bunker Hill

La última parada en Boston & # 8217s Freedom Trail es un santuario a la niebla de la guerra.

De esta historia

Las fuerzas coloniales pasaron por alto Bunker Hill en lugar de Breed & # 8217s Hill, una subida más pequeña más cercana a Boston y más amenazante para los británicos. (Gilbert Gates) De John Trumball La muerte del general Warren en la batalla de Bunker's Hill, 17 de junio de 1775. (Museo de Bellas Artes de Boston) Bunker Hill: una ciudad, un asedio, una revolución está disponible para pre-pedido ahora y en tiendas el 30 de abril de 2013. (Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, Inc.)

Galería de fotos

& # 8220Breed & # 8217s Hill, & # 8221 dice una placa. & # 8220Sitio de la Batalla de Bunker Hill. & # 8221 Otra placa lleva la famosa orden dada a las tropas estadounidenses cuando los británicos cargaron contra Bunker Hill. & # 8220Don & # 8217t fuego & # 8217 hasta que vea el blanco de sus ojos. & # 8221 Excepto, los guardaparques le dirán rápidamente, estas palabras no fueron & # 8217t dichas aquí. El obelisco patriótico en la cima de la colina también confunde a los visitantes. La mayoría no se da cuenta de que es el raro monumento estadounidense a una derrota estadounidense.

En resumen, la memoria nacional de Bunker Hill es en su mayor parte una tontería. Lo que hace que la batalla de 1775 sea un tema natural para Nathaniel Philbrick, un autor atraído por episodios icónicos e incomprendidos de la historia de Estados Unidos. Asumió el desembarco del peregrino en muguete y el Little Bighorn en La última batalla. En su nuevo libro, Bunker Hill, vuelve a visitar los inicios de la Revolución Americana, un tema cargado de más mitos, orgullo y política que cualquier otro en nuestra narrativa nacional.

Johnny Tremain, Paul Revere & # 8217s Ride, hoy & # 8217s Tea Party & # 8212 tienes que sintonizar todo eso para llegar a la historia real & # 8221 Philbrick. Gazing out from the Bunker Hill Monument—not at charging redcoats but at skyscrapers and clotted traffic—he adds: “You also have to squint a lot and study old maps to imagine your way back into the 18th century.”

Boston in 1775 was much smaller, hillier and more watery than it appears today. The Back Bay was still a bay and the South End was likewise underwater hills were later leveled to fill in almost 1,000 acres. Boston was virtually an island, reachable by land only via a narrow neck. And though founded by Puritans, the city wasn’t puritanical. One rise near Beacon Hill, known for its prostitutes, was marked on maps as “Mount Whoredom.”

Nor was Boston a “cradle of liberty” one in five families, including those of leading patriots, owned slaves. And the city’s inhabitants were viciously divided. At Copp’s Hill, in Boston’s North End, Philbrick visits the grave of Daniel Malcom, an early agitator against the British identified on his headstone as “a true son of Liberty.” British troops used the patriot headstone for target practice. Yet Malcom’s brother, John, was a noted loyalist, so hated by rebels that they tarred and feathered him and paraded him in a cart until his skin peeled off in “steaks.”

Philbrick is a mild-mannered 56-year-old with gentle brown eyes, graying hair and a placid golden retriever in the back of his car. But he’s blunt and impassioned about the brutishness of the 1770s and the need to challenge patriotic stereotypes. “There’s an ugly civil war side to revolutionary Boston that we don’t often talk about,” he says, “and a lot of thuggish, vigilante behavior by groups like the Sons of Liberty.” He doesn’t romanticize the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord, either. The “freedoms” they fought for, he notes, weren’t intended to extend to slaves, Indians, women or Catholics. Their cause was also “profoundly conservative.” Most sought a return to the Crown’s “salutary neglect” of colonists prior to the 1760s, before Britain began imposing taxes and responding to American resistance with coercion and troops. “They wanted the liberties of British subjects, not American independence,” Philbrick says.

That began to change once blood was shed, which is why the Bunker Hill battle is pivotal. The chaotic skirmishing at Lexington and Concord in April 1775 left the British holed up in Boston and hostile colonists occupying the city’s surrounds. But it remained unclear whether the ill-equipped rebels were willing or able to engage the British Army in pitched battle. Leaders on both sides also thought the conflict might yet be settled without full-scale war.

This tense, two-month stalemate broke on the night of June 16, in a confused manner that marks much of the Revolution’s start. Over a thousand colonials marched east from Cambridge with orders to fortify Bunker Hill, a 110-foot rise on the Charlestown peninsula jutting into Boston Harbor. But the Americans bypassed Bunker Hill in the dark and instead began fortifying Breed’s Hill, a smaller rise much closer to Boston and almost in the face of the British.

The reasons for this maneuver are murky. But Philbrick believes it was a “purposeful act, a provocation and not the smartest move militarily.” Short on cannons, and the know-how to fire those they had with accuracy, the rebels couldn’t do much damage from Breed’s Hill. But their threatening position, on high ground just across the water from Boston, forced the British to try to dislodge the Americans before they were reinforced or fully entrenched.

On the morning of June 17, as the rebels frantically threw up breastworks of earth, fence posts and stone, the British bombarded the hill. One cannonball decapitated a man as his comrades worked on, “fatigued by our Labour, having no sleep the night before, very little to eat, no drink but rum,” a private wrote. “The danger we were in made us think there was treachery, and that we were brought there to be all slain.”

Exhausted and exposed, the Americans were also a motley collection of militia from different colonies, with little coordination and no clear chain of command. By contrast, the British, who at midday began disembarking from boats near the American position, were among the best-trained troops in Europe. And they were led by seasoned commanders, one of whom marched confidently at the head of his men accompanied by a servant carrying a bottle of wine. The British also torched Charlestown, at the base of Breed’s Hill, turning church steeples into “great pyramids of fire” and adding ferocious heat to what was already a warm June afternoon.

All this was clearly visible to the many spectators crowded on hills, rooftops and steeples in and around Boston, including Abigail Adams and her young son, John Quincy, who cried at the flames and the “thunders” of British cannons. Another observer was British Gen. John Burgoyne, who watched from Copp’s Hill. “And now ensued one of the greatest scenes of war that can be conceived,” he wrote of the blazing town, the roaring cannons and the sight of red-coated troops ascending Breed’s Hill.

However, the seemingly open pasture proved to be an obstacle course. The high, unmown hay obscured rocks, holes and other hazards. Fences and stone walls also slowed the British. The Americans, meanwhile, were ordered to hold their fire until the attackers closed to 50 yards or less. The wave of British “advanced towards us in order to swallow us up,” wrote Pvt. Peter Brown, “but they found a Choaky mouthful of us.”

When the rebels opened fire, the close-packed British fell in clumps. In some spots, the British lines became jumbled, making them even easier targets. The Americans added to the chaos by aiming at officers, distinguished by their fine uniforms. The attackers, repulsed at every point, were forced to withdraw. “The dead lay as thick as sheep in a fold,” wrote an American officer.

The disciplined British quickly re-formed their ranks and advanced again, with much the same result. One British officer was moved to quote Falstaff: “They make us here but food for gunpowder.” But the American powder was running very low. And the British, having failed twice, devised a new plan. They repositioned their artillery and raked the rebel defenses with grapeshot. And when the infantrymen marched forward, a third time, they came in well-spaced columns rather than a broad line.

As the Americans’ ammunition expired, their firing sputtered and “went out like an old candle,” wrote William Prescott, who commanded the hilltop redoubt. His men resorted to throwing rocks, then swung their muskets at the bayonet-wielding British pouring over the rampart. “Nothing could be more shocking than the carnage that followed the storming [of] this work,” wrote a royal marine. “We tumbled over the dead to get at the living,” with “soldiers stabbing some and dashing out the brains of others.” The surviving defenders fled, bringing the battle to an end.

In just two hours of fighting, 1,054 British soldiers—almost half of all those engaged—had been killed or wounded, including many officers. American losses totaled over 400. The first true battle of the Revolutionary War was to prove the bloodiest of the entire conflict. Though the British had achieved their aim in capturing the hill, it was a truly Pyrrhic victory. “The success is too dearly bought,” wrote Gen. William Howe, who lost every member of his staff (as well as the bottle of wine his servant carried into battle).

Badly depleted, the besieged British abandoned plans to seize another high point near the city and ultimately evacuated Boston. The battle also demonstrated American resolve and dispelled hopes that the rebels might relent without a protracted conflict. “Our three generals,” a British officer wrote of his commanders in Boston, had “expected rather to punish a mob than fight with troops that would look them in the face.”

The intimate ferocity of this face-to-face combat is even more striking today, in an era of drones, tanks and long-range missiles. At the Bunker Hill Museum, Philbrick studies a diorama of the battle alongside Patrick Jennings, a park ranger who served as an infantryman and combat historian for the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This was almost a pool-table battlefield,” Jennings observes of the miniature soldiers crowded on a verdant field. “The British were boxed in by the terrain and the Americans didn’t have much maneuverability, either. It’s a close-range brawl.”

However, there’s no evidence that Col. Israel Putnam told his men to hold their fire until they saw “the whites” of the enemies’ eyes. The writer Parson Weems invented this incident decades later, along with other fictions such as George Washington chopping down a cherry tree. In reality, the Americans opened fire at about 50 yards, much too distant to see anyone’s eyes. One colonel did tell his men to wait until they could see the splash guards—called half-gaiters—that British soldiers wore around their calves. But as Philbrick notes, “‘Don’t fire until you see the whites of their half-gaiters’ just doesn’t have the same ring.” So the Weems version endured, making it into textbooks and even into the video game Assassin’s Creed.

The Bunker Hill Monument also has an odd history. The cornerstone was laid in 1825, with Daniel Webster addressing a crowd of 100,000. Backers built one of the first railways in the nation to tote eight-ton granite blocks from a quarry south of Boston. But money ran out. So Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor and author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” rescued the project by organizing a “Ladies’ Fair” that raised $30,000. The monument was finally dedicated in 1843, with the now-aged Daniel Webster returning to speak again.

Over time, Brahmin Charlestown turned Irish and working class, and the monument featured in gritty crime movies like The Town, directed by Ben Affleck (who has also acquired the movie rights to Philbrick’s book). But today the obelisk stands amid renovated townhouses, and the small park surrounding it is popular with exercise classes and leisure-seekers. “You’ll be talking to visitors about the horrible battle that took place here,” says park ranger Merrill Kohlhofer, “and all around you are sunbathers and Frisbee players and people walking their dogs.” Firemen also visit, to train for climbing tall buildings by scaling the 221-foot monument.

Philbrick is drawn to a different feature of the park: a statue of what he calls the “wild man” and neglected hero of revolutionary Boston, Dr. Joseph Warren. The physician led the rebel underground and became major general of the colonial army in the lead-up to Bunker Hill. A flamboyant man, he addressed 5,000 Bostonians clad in a toga and went into the Bunker Hill battle wearing a silk-fringed waistcoat and silver buttons, “like Lord Falkland, in his wedding suit.” But he refused to assume command, fighting as an ordinary soldier and dying from a bullet in the face during the final assault. Warren’s stripped body was later identified on the basis of his false teeth, which had been crafted by Paul Revere. He left behind a fiancée (one of his patients) and a mistress he’d recently impregnated.

“Warren was young, charismatic, a risk-taker—a man made for revolution,” Philbrick says. “Things were changing by the day and he embraced that.” In death, Warren became the Revolution’s first martyr, though he’s little remembered by most Americans today.

Before leaving Charlestown, Philbrick seeks out one other site. In 1775, when Americans marched past Bunker Hill and fortified Breed’s instead, a British map compounded the confusion by mixing up the two hills as well. Over time, the name Breed’s melted away and the battle became indelibly linked to Bunker. But what of the hill that originally bore that name?

It’s visible from the Bunker Hill Monument: a taller, steeper hill 600 yards away. But Charlestown’s narrow, one-way streets keep carrying Philbrick in the wrong direction. After 15 minutes of circling his destination he finally finds a way up. “It’s a pity the Americans didn’t fortify this hill,” he quips, “the British would never have found it.”

It’s now crowned by a church, on Bunker Hill Street, and a sign says the church was established in 1859, “On the Top of Bunker Hill.” The church’s business manager, Joan Rae, says the same. “This is Bunker Hill. That other hill’s not. It’s Breed’s.” To locals like Rae, perhaps, but not to visitors or even to Google Maps. Tap in “Bunker Hill Charlestown” and you’ll be directed to. that other hill. To Philbrick, this enduring confusion is emblematic of the Bunker Hill story. “The whole thing’s a screw-up,” he says. “The Americans fortify the wrong hill, this forces a fight no one planned, the battle itself is an ugly and confused mess. And it ends with a British victory that’s also a defeat.”

Retreating to Boston for lunch at “ye olde” Union Oyster House, Philbrick reflects more personally on his historic exploration of the city where he was born. Though he was mostly raised in Pittsburgh, his forebears were among the first English settlers of the Boston area in the 1630s. One Philbrick served in the Revolution. As a championship sailor, Philbrick competed on the Charles River in college and later moved to Boston. He still has an apartment there, but mostly lives on the echt-Yankee island of Nantucket, the setting for his book about whaling, In the Heart of the Sea.

Philbrick, however, considers himself a “deracinated WASP” and doesn’t believe genealogy or flag-waving should cloud our view of history. “I don’t subscribe to the idea that the founders or anyone else were somehow better than us and that we have to live up to their example.” He also feels the hated British troops in Boston deserve reappraisal. “They’re an occupying army, locals despise them, and they don’t want to be there,” he says. “As Americans we’ve now been in that position in Iraq and can appreciate the British dilemma in a way that wasn’t easy before.”

But Philbrick also came away from his research with a powerful sense of the Revolution’s significance. While visiting archives in England, he called on Lord Gage, a direct descendant of Gen. Thomas Gage, overall commander of the British military at the Bunker Hill battle. The Gage family’s Tudor-era estate has 300 acres of private gardens and a chateau-style manor filled with suits of armor and paintings by Gainsborough, Raphael and Van Dyck.

“We had sherry and he could not have been more courteous,” Philbrick says of Lord Gage. “But it was a reminder of the British class system and how much the Revolution changed our history. As countries, we’ve gone on different paths since his ancestor sent redcoats up that hill.”

Read an excerpt from Philbrick's Bunker Hill, detailing the tarring and feathering of loyalist John Malcom on the eve of the Revolutionary War, here.

About Tony Horwitz

Tony Horwitz was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who worked as a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and wrote for the Neoyorquino. El es el autor de Baghdad without a Map, Midnight Rising and the digital best seller BOOM. His most recent work, Spying on the South, was released in May 2019. Tony Horwitz died in May 2019 at the age of 60.


The Battle of Bunker's Hill - 17 June 1775

Following the skirmishes in Massachusetts at Lexington and Concord, April 19, 1775, state militiamen from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont assembled in Cambridge and the area surrounding Boston. British General Gage and 6,500 soldiers and marines were in possession of Boston proper, while the American force consisted of over 16,000 men. Sickness and missing brought the number of effective soldiers closer to 9,000. In addition the American force was woefully short of gunpowder, having only some 30 or so half barrels of powder beyond that carried in the horns of the citizen soldiers.

In the two months following Concord, efforts were made to bring organization and order to the American Army. But the work was difficult and the progress slow. By mid-June the army was still a collection of individual Militia regiments, headed by officers who were viewed more as neighbors and fellow citizens of the common soldier rather than trained and capable leaders. The Continental Congress was working on legislation to regularize the militia and see that they were paid by the Congress, but by mid-June still had not acted To complicate matters, militia units were responsible only to their own militia commanders and their own state governments. General Artemus Ward was commanding general of the Massachusetts militia, and leading the largest contingent of troops, held nominal authority over the non-Massachusetts forces.

General Gage considered his force too small to effectively attack the Rebels and hold the countryside outside of Boston. At the same time he became concerned that the surrounding heights of Dorchester and Charlestown provided an excellent opportunity for Rebels to place cannon and threaten Boston. Consequently, he began to plan measures to secure these strategic positions. But word leaked out and the Boston Committee of Safety recommended to Ward that he pre-empt the British move and seize Bunker Hill above Charlestown. Col. William Prescott supported the plan and was asked to lead a night mission to establish a redoubt (small fort) on Bunkers Hill. Together with 300 men of Prescott's regiment, and parts of Ebenezer Bridge's and Colonel James Frye's regiment were added 200 Connecticut men under Captain Thomas Knowlton from Putnam's regiment and Captain Samuel Gridley's artillery company with two light guns. About 5pm in the evening of June 16 th this force assembled on the common in Cambridge and after a prayer set off quietly for the Horse's Neck.

Poised like a syrup drop extending into the harbor just to the north of Boston, the Charlestown peninsula is approximately one and a quarter miles long and lies between the Charles River on the West and the Mystic river on the East. On the north, the peninsula is joined to the mainland by a narrow neck which is only thirty feet wide at high tide. Bunker's Hill rises across the narrow western end of the peninsula and at 100 feet high, dominates the Neck. Any fortifications constructed there would be out of effective range of the British battery on Copp's Hill in Boston and would be too high to permit elevation of shipboard guns in the harbor. To the south and east of Bunker's Hill lies Breed's Hill, some 60 feet high gradually sloping to the harbor and Charlestown to its south and west.

Under the cover of darkness, the American force crossed the Neck and mounted Bunker's Hill. On the far slope the column stopped and a violent argument broke out among the leaders, with Prescott asserting that Ward's verbal orders had been to fortify the lower and more exposed Breed's Hill. Colonel Gridley, who was serving the role of engineer added to the ruckus contending that valuable time was being lost. At last the decision was made to make Breed's Hill the primary fortification and Bunker Hill the secondary fortification, if and when time permitted. The column moved on the Breed's Hill where at its apex, Gridley staked out the outline of a redoubt approximately 132 feet square. As the clock struck midnight, the men began to dig, throwing up dirt at a furious pace.

Prescott next detailed a company to patrol the shore and another to lay by close to the town. About 4 o'clock, the lookout on His Majesty's sloop-of-war Lively, with 20 guns, spotted the work on the redoubt and sounded the alarm. Captain Thomas Bishop immediately beat to quarters and opened fire on the redoubt. Bishop who had recently been found guilty by court-martial for deliberated neglect of duty over the disposition of the proceeds of a captured Spanish ship was doubtless determined not to be caught neglectful again. The Admiral of the fleet, sent a boat to stop the shooting but then seeing the problem for himself in the improving light, ordered his ships and the Copp's Hill battery to open fire on the redoubt.

Gage called a hasty council of war. After exploring a number of options with Generals Clinton and Howe, Gage decided on an amphibious assault with a landing on Moulton's Point below Breed's Hill. In the meantime, Prescott's men had consumed their one-day's ration in the course of digging the redoubt and a lucky cannonball had crashed the two barrels of water that had been brought along. As the cannonade continued, the men in the redoubt began to question the wisdom of remaining under fire. In the light of full day, British troops could be seen across the harbor assembling in Boston. Colonel Prescott was determined to fight. He had already quelled the men's fears by leaping to parapet after the first man was killed by a cannon shot, and slowly strolling along its exposed top to demonstrate the relative lack of danger from cannon fire. Now with the British preparing operations against them they were ready to leave. In fact some did leave, heading up and over Bunker's Hill and on to the Neck and Cambridge.

In the meantime, General Issac Putnam had ridden out to confer with Col Prescott soon after the Lively opened fire. Soon he rode back to Cambridge in search of General Ward to urge the reinforcement of Prescott. Ward was concerned that reinforcing Prescott would weaken his forces elsewhere and felt he had to wait to learn for certain where the British would attack. By 11 o'clock two British gondolas approached the Neck as close as possible and began firing at anything that moved along the neck. What actual affect this effort had remains unclear, though there were some casualties. By noon the British were in the boats and Howe with about 1,500 men embarked at one. Whether Ward had issued reinforcement orders or not before the British made their move, he did so now, sending orders to nine Massachusetts regiments, John Stark's and James Reed's New Hampshire regiments, and several artillery companies. All was confusion, with each regiment moving as it thought best and all the time men and officers dropping off and melting into the woodwork. The scene at the neck was chaotic. Several Massachusets regiments blocked the entrance fearful of crossing under direct cannon fire.

Colonel's Stark and Reed of the New Hampshire troops got the order to advance at two in the afternoon. Hastily assembling their men, they discovered that many were short of powder and shot. When the men were issued shot, time was lost as the men beat the shot into the proper caliber for the weapon each carried. When the New Hampshire troops arrived at the entrance to the Neck and found the Massachusetts troops blocking the way, Major Andrew McClary pushed his way to the frond and asked, "If Massachusetts didn't happen to need the road just then, would they mind moving over to let New Hampshire through?" The Massachusetts men moved smartly into the ditches as Stark and Reed calmly marched their men across the Neck.

By two, Howe had his troops landed and surveyed situation and determined that he needed more men. He sent a boat back across to Boston requesting reinforcements. The artillery battery that had been brought over by boat was now deployed on the forward slope of Breed's hill and opened fire at 3 pm. By now two recently appointed American general's had arrived on the scene: Dr. Joseph Warren and General Seth Pomeroy. Neither wished for command and asked but to be directed to where the fighting was expected to be the hottest. They went to the redoubt and greatly cheered the now weary and thirsty defenders.

By three, Howe's reinforcements had arrived and he formed the men on line in three ranks. In the meantime, Stark and the New Hampshire troops and some other units had arrived and using a stone fence and placing hay between an existing fence and hastily assembled wood fence extended the breastworks from the redoubt left to the water. As the British advanced, the Americans determined not to fire until the British were close. Stark had placed a stake in the ground 30 yards in front of his fence and urged his men to wait until the enemy passed the stake before firing. In the redoubt, Prescott is said to have instructed his men not to shoot until they saw the whites of their eyes. On Bunker's Hill a strange collection of men gathered. Some who had straggled in from the neck and others who had given themselves leave from the ensuing fight. General Isaac Putnam tried sorely to roust the men either to commence work on the Bunker Hill defenses or to go in support of Prescott and Stark. All his efforts, even threatening at sword point, were of no avail. The only regimental commander who was with him was Col. Samuel Gerrish, who depending on accounts was either trying to help Putnam or hiding himself. Generally considered a coward, Gerrish managed to elude scandal until a skirmish several weeks after Bunker's Hill showed his true colors.

When the British closed to thirty yards the Americans opened fire with devastating effect. In some companies 7 out of 10 were killed in others 9 of 10 died. The survivors stumbled back down the hill. When Howe returned to the bottom, he asked why the artillery battery had ceased firing while they were still approaching the Americans. To his chagrin he discovered that boxes of 12 pound shot had been sent over and that the artillery had only 6 pound cannons. Howe ordered them to shoot grape shot and sent back across the water for the proper shot. On Howe's left the American Company, still in the town, had taken to firing into his left flank. The Admiral landed and asked if burning the town might be of assistance and Howe readily agreed. The Admiral returned to his fleet and ordered the firing of red hot shot into Charlestown. The town of 400 buildings caught fire in 50 places and immediately went up in a huge conflagration.

The British came on twice more with similar losses. The third try succeeded, just barely in over-running the redoubt. The men with Prescott being out of powder and trying to make do by braking the powder out of artillery casings and using scrap metal for bullets. Finally, in the midst of hand-to-hand fighting Prescott called a retreat and the survivors scrambled over the back of the redoubt and trough the narrow exit. Joseph Warren was killed when he was shot in the back of the head.

Finally several more American Regiments got across the neck in good order and passing to the right of Bunker's Hill laid down a covering fire for Prescott's men. Gardner was first and was soon wounded. Michael Jackson took over for him and was soon joined by companies of Connecticut troops. Soon the British advanced on them and were in a bloody stand-up fight. In good order the troops fell back turning time and again to lay down delaying fire. Thus, did most of the men escape across the Neck to Cambridge.

The British wanted to pursue but the men were just played out. Howe proceeded to fortify Bunker's Hill and the Americans began throwing up breastworks on the far approaches to the Neck. In the initial British report, 19 officers and 207 enlisted men were killed, 70 officers and 738 enlisted men were wounded. On the American side, numbers varied, but Ward's record book showed 115 killed and 305 wounded.

Carrington, Henry B. "Battles of the American Revolution", Promontory Press, New York. 1877.

Elting, John R. "The Battle of Bunker's Hill", Philip Freaneu Press, Monmouth, N.J. 1975

Johnson, Curt. "Battles of the American Revolution", Roxby Press, London. 1975

Scheer, George F. And Rankin, Hugh F. "Rebels and Redcoats", Da Capo Press, New York. 1957.

Bodwells at Bunker Hill

At least two Bodwells were in the thick of things at Bunker's Hill:

Parker Bodwell 1750 was a Private in Capt John Davis' company, Col. James Frye's Regiment. Parker was in the return of men in camp at Cambridge May 17, 1775.

Eliphalet Bodwell 1738 served as a 2 nd Lieutenant in Capt. John Davis' company, Frye's Massachusetts regiment.

A third Bodwell, Joshua Bodwell 1736 was also a member of Col. Frye's regiment at the time to the Lexington and Concord conflict and was present at Bunker's Hill. The History of Essex County, Massachusetts, p. 298 presents the June 17 th rooster of Capt. John Davis' company. Joshua was reported to be "in train" on June 17 th . This could mean "in transit" or "in training" but might signify that Joshua was not present at the battle.

Nevertheless, the archives of the State House of Massachusetts contain the names of those who went from Methune on the 19 th of April and also the names of the Methuen company who fought at the battle of Bunker's Hill:

2 nd Lieutenant Eliphalet Bodwell

This muster roll mad for seven day from April 19 th -Sworn to by John Davis.

Most of Frye's regiment was assigned to Col. Prescott and worked to build and defend the redoubt and adjacent breastwork. One source cites Frye as being sick at the beginning of the battle and not with the men, another has him wounded during the battle. Though it is possible that both Bodwell men were not assigned to Prescott, by weight of probability-most of Frye's men were assigned to Prescott-they probably were there. Most likely they were supporting the redoubt or the breastwork adjacent to and east of the redoubt.

From " The History of Essex County, Massachusetts, p. 299" we have the following:

The tradition is that the company came near being surrounded toward the end of the battle, and that as the enemy came up on each hand a British soldier ran up to Capt. Davis, saying, "You are my prisoner." Capt. Davis, who was a resolute, powerful man, replied, "I guess not," at the same time running the soldier through with his sword.


Battle of Bunker Hill, 17 June 1775 - History

Among the most notorious battles of the American Revolution, the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill was a pivotal battle for American Colonists in their bid for independence. Battered down by attacks from the British Army during the Siege of Boston, the events of June 17, 1775 provided much needed encouragement for the colonists as well as sending a clear message to the British that the war would not be won quickly or easily.

Preludio de la guerra

On June 15, 1775, the colonists began to see signs that the British planned to occupy the area known as Dorchester Heights, an area in the southern part of Boston that provides a view of both the city of Boston and the tactically important Boston Harbor. The hill is part of the Charleston peninsula, located strategically between the Mystic and Charles Rivers. British troops began to amass forces just off of the coast, and militiamen decided that they must prevent the buildup of British forces in the area. As evening fell on June 16, Colonel William Prescott led more than twelve hundred soldiers from Cambridge to fortify the area around Bunker’s Hill. Rather than leave forces on Bunker’s Hill itself, Colonel Prescott ordered his troops to take position by digging into a 160 by 30 foot redoubt on nearby Breed’s Hill. This infuriated British General Thomas Gage, who ordered his army of more than 4600 who had previously occupied the city of Boston to capture the position. As Gage’s men waited for the tide to rise to allow troops to enter from Mystic River, the colonists used the cover of night to increase the fortifications to their position. Colonel Stark brought his troops from New Hampshire, and the number of soldiers prepared for battle rose to between three and four thousand.

La batalla de Bunker Hill

As dawn broke on the morning of June 17th, the British found themselves in the unpleasant position of being on the wrong side of the newly fortified earthen bunker created by the colonists. General Gage sent 2300 British forces, under the command of Major General William Howe, to take the hill. As soon as the Brits could be roused from sleep, they began to fire on the entrenched colonials. The volley of fire kept up, uninterrupted except for the loading of weapons, until nearly three o’clock in the afternoon. The remaining inhabitants of nearby Charleston were forced to flee as their city was set afire by the British fleet at sea. Likely baffled by the colonists’ refusal to return fire, the British were forced to wait for the tide to turn favorable so that the barges of redcoats could advance upon the American colonists. The colonists, handicapped by a shortage of ammunition, remained behind their fortifications on Breed’s Hill as they waited, under orders to hold fire until the British soldiers were within sight of their weapons.

When the tides finally allowed the British to take positions on land, the redcoats assembled in orderly lines to unleash a frontal assault on the colonists. As the British troops advanced, the colonists waited behind their dirt and brush fortifications until troops came within fifty yards of the fortifications. When the British were close enough, the Americans launched a deadly volley of fire which the British troops were ill-prepared to meet.

Many of Gage’s troops, expecting the colonists to be scared away by their mere presence, had fixed their bayonets and failed to even load their muskets. British forces, also suffering from a shortage of ammunition, were ordered not to fire until they were within range of the colonists. It was during the Battle of Bunker Hill that Major General Howe was purported to have given the command “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” As the troops in their brightly colored uniforms and carrying heavy equipment marched in neat lines through farmer’s fields and over stone walls, the colonists continued to fire from behind embankments.

Shocked by the American colonists’ resistance, the troops fell back. Major General Howe ordered his troops to advance again, demanding that they walk over the bodies of their dead and wounded on a second assault, only to be forced back again by the colonists. On their third advance, the British soldiers were able to break through the colonial lines and overrun their meager fortifications to claim the hill. American soldiers, defeated as much by lack of ammunition and supplies as by the military capabilities of the British Army, were forced to flee.

Las secuelas

While the battle was a victory for the British, since they were able to capture Breed’s Hill, the losses suffered dealt a devastating blow to the redcoats. Of the more than 2300 men who advanced at Major General Howe’s order, 226 were killed and another 928 were wounded. The American forces took heavy losses as well, with 139 killed and 278 wounded. The Battle of Bunker Hill lasted a mere three hours, but it was among the deadliest in the American Revolution. Despite their losses, many of the American colonists felt that the battle had provided them with a victory in other ways, sending a clear message that the American soldiers were able to take a stand against the British army and win by using traditional war tactics. American colonists everywhere realized that the British Army was not an invincible force too mighty to reckon with, and more men were willing to join the fight for independence. The battle also strengthened the will of colonists to fight, and surprisingly, created sympathy for the American cause back in England.

Shortly after, George Washington would lead his own contingent of men to Dorchester Heights, forcing the British to give up their hard-won land. The British soldiers who had already occupied the city of Boston made no attempt to engage the colonists away from the relative safety of the city until they awoke in April to find Ticonderoga’s cannon pointed directly at them. The Battle of Bunker Hill is arguably the most important battle fought between the British and the newly formed American militia not because it was a victory in fact, but because it gave the American people a rallying cry as they marched onward through the bloody war for American Independence.


On This Day in History -June 17, 1775

On this day in history, June 17, 1775, patriots lose the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major battle of the American Revolution and the bloodiest of the entire war. los Battle of Bunker Hill began when patriots surrounding Boston learned that British commanders were planning to break out and take the hills around the city. The very green and untrained militia was surrounding the city after chasing the British back to Boston after the opening shots of the war at the Battles of Lexington y Concord.

The British were planning to break out of the town on June 18, but a businessman from New Hampshire visiting the city alerted the patriots after overhearing the plan. At this time, the militia was under the command of Massachusetts General Artemas Ward. The Continental Army was only authorized in Philadelphia on the 14th and George Washington appointed its leader on the 15th. The events that unfolded on Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill occurred several weeks before Washington arrived and took over.

On the night of June 16, 1200 soldiers entered the Charlestown Peninsula north of Boston under Colonel William Prescott. Prescott's orders were to build fortifications atop Bunker Hill on the northwest part of the peninsula. Prescott disobeyed the orders and built atop Breed's Hill instead, which was further south and closer to Boston. This defiance of orders was typical of American movements at the time since the militia was made up of units from different counties and cities with no established chain of command.

Across the water in Boston, British General Thomas Gage was informed of the American movements early on the 17th. He began preparing an assault on the peninsula, but the soldiers took their time and didn't begin landing until late in the afternoon. By 3:00 the British began their first assault. American commanders had ordered their soldiers not to fire until the British were within close range in order to assure that every bullet would count since they were very low on ammunition.

The first British assault turned into a massacre as the Americans fired on them as they marched up the hill on Prescott's position. Colonel John Stark repelled another attack on the left flank by British Major General William Howe. Dozens and dozens of British soldiers fell and the survivors were forced to retreat. A second assault had the same results. The British regrouped once again for a third assault, but this time the Americans on Breed's Hill ran out of ammunition. British soldiers crawled over their own dead comrades to get to the top of the hill where hand to hand combat began. The British, who were better equipped with bayonets, finally drove the Americans back across Bunker Hill and across the Charlestown Neck.

los Battle of Bunker Hill was a victory for the British since they took the peninsula, but at an enormous cost, suffering over 1,000 casualties! 226 were killed and over 800 injured. A large chunk of Britain's officer corps in North America was killed or wounded, including the entire field staff of General Howe. The Americans lost 115 killed and 300 wounded, including the President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Dr. Joseph Warren.

News of the battle shocked London to its core. It finally realized that the Americans were not the "rabble" they were thought to be, but a formidable fighting force. The battle also hardened Americans and persuaded many to join the revolutionary cause. The battle was a strategic stalemate, having no real value to either side, but to strengthen their resolve. George Washington would arrive in July and begin the task of forming the militia into an orderly and effective army. They would finally force the British to abandon Boston the following year.


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