In the middle of June 1775, during the early stages of the American Revolution, British soldiers were planning to solidify their positions in Boston by securing the hills surrounding the city. This would also give the British better control of Boston Harbor. The plan was discovered by the colonists, however, and they began their own preparations. They constructed some defensive fortifications on Bunker Hill, but as Breed's Hill was closer to Boston and considered easier to defend, that’s where the colonists really dug in. The so-called Battle of Bunker Hill began at daybreak on 17 June 1775. Named after the now-famous hill in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the majority of the combat actually took place on Breed’s Hill.
Same battle, different hill:
- To conserve ammunition, Col. William Prescott told the colonial troops: “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” When the British soldiers came up the hill and got within several dozen yards, the Americans let loose a torrent of musket fire.
- The first two assaults on colonial positions were turned away with significant British casualties. However, the third attack succeeded when the Americans ran out of ammunition and were forced to retreat.
- Although it was a tactical British victory, the battle proved that inexperienced militias were able to stand up to regular army troops in battle, and discouraged the British from future attacks on well-defended front lines.