Bunker Hill, battle of

Bunker Hill, battle of, in the American Revolution, June 17, 1775. Detachments of colonial militia under Artemas Ward, Nathanael Greene, John Stark, and Israel Putnam laid siege to Boston shortly after the battles of Lexington and Concord. However, Thomas Gage, British commander in the city, made no attempt to break the siege until he was reinforced (in May) by troops led by William Howe, Sir Henry Clinton, and John Burgoyne. The Continental forces learned of the British plan to take the heights of Dorchester and Charlestown, and William Prescott was sent to occupy Bunker Hill outside Charlestown. Prescott instead chose the neighboring Breed's Hill to the southeast, but the engagement that ensued has become known as the battle of Bunker Hill. Howe was ordered to attack the American position, and after two slaughterous failures a third charge dislodged the Americans, who had run out of powder. The British victory failed to break the siege, and the gallant American defense heightened colonial morale and resistance.

See T. J. Fleming, Now We Are Enemies (1960); R. M. Ketchum, The Battle for Bunker Hill (1962); N. Philbrick, Bunker Hill (2013).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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