Saturday, May 9, 2015

Bunker Hill

Bunker Hill Monument
 Bunker Hill is the site of the first major battle of the Revolutionary War. It actually occurred on Breed's Hill but was named for the adjacent higher hill which was the objective of both the Americans and the British. The colonials had been keeping the British confined to the Boston peninsula up to this point and were looking to make a statement by sneaking onto Bunker Hill and building a fort overlooking Boston. With canon in the fort, they would be able to offer resistance to the British navy which controlled all of Boston harbor. The British were looking to stretch their legs and let the colonials know that they weren't to be contained. The commanding officer William Prescott, against orders and for reasons unknown, decided to build the fort on Breed's Hill instead of Bunker Hill.

The Colonials were extremely short on powder and short on manpower so when the British sailed across the harbor and landed at the base of Breed's hill, the outcome was almost certain. Israel Putnam who fought in the battle is credited with saying, "Don't fire until you see the white of their eyes," for those very reasons. The British made several charges and were repulsed under withering gunfire but as powder ran low, the eventually made it to the top of the defenses and overran the fort. The British lost 1054 men in the battle and the Colonials 140 men, most of which happened in the withdrawal from the fort. The most famous loss was the death of Dr. Joseph Warren who had he lived, the name George Washington might have been little more than a footnote in history books.

The Battle of Bunker Hill convinced the British that the Colonials weren't just a raggedy bunch of farmers whose rebellion could be easily squashed. They negotiated their retreat and left Boston for Nova Scotia where they would regroup and try again in New York. The Colonials learned that they could successfully fight the British and hold their own if given the proper leadership and provisions.

Bunker Hill Monument
I arrived at the base of the monument a few minutes before it opened and found I was the only person there which is what I had hoped. I started up the 294 stairs to the top of the monument which are conveniently labeled every 25 steps. I made it up to around 175 steps and was pausing to catch my breath when I heard what sounded like a army of 5 year old kids screaming their way up the stairs. Wanting to get a few minutes of peace to myself up at the top, I immediately got climbing again and increasing my pace to the point where I thought my lungs might implode. I could hear the kids screaming 25, 50, 75, 100 during the same time it took me to get from 175 to 225. I thought I was going to lose the race when I had 175 steps of a head start. I made it to the top of the monument and while sucking wind, I quickly walked around and took some pictures out the windows of the top. I had about four minutes before around 20 5-year old kids came scrambling up the stairs and crowded the small king bed sized room at the top. The teachers with them apologized for the disruptive noise coming from their kids and I politely told them it was okay because I was heading down anyway. I wish I had a few more minutes to soak in the view and ponder the events that had happened below almost 240 years ago.

A short on breath photo looking back towards Boston

1 comment:

sage said...

I have never been to Boston and am enjoying your posts.