The Battle of Bunker Hill

In the night hours of June 16, 1775, colonial militia took up positions on Breed's Hill, adjacent to Bunker Hill overlooking Boston Harbor. This group, led by Colonel William Prescott, John Stark, and Israel Putnam, felt sure that they could seize control of the harbor, but General Gage, eager to avenge his losses at Concord, was determined to take the hill. The next day, 3,000 redcoats marched up Breed's Hill in close ranks, feeling pretty proud of themselves. It wasn't until they marched close enough (approximately forty paces from colonial forces) that American troops opened fire, causing the British to suffer severe casualties and forcing them to retreat. In spite of this, the determined British charged a second and third time, until the Americans ran out of ammunition. Even though this battle occurred at Breed's Hill, it's been misnamed the Battle of Bunker Hill and is known as one of the bloodiest encounters in the Americans' struggle for freedom.

However, several positive outcomes resulted. For starters, America's parttime militia gained a renewed sense of confidence that helped in recruiting enlisted, trained troops. Surrounding colonies came to the aid of New Englanders, and they began establishing intercolonial ties that would prove unbreakable. The Second Continental Congress also commissioned Virginia's George Washington to take command of the American forces. Washington's Continental army, a small, dependable regiment, arrived in Cambridge on July 3, 1775, where the new commander in chief took over. Washington refused any payment for his services, except for expenses.

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