Today in Charlestown, MA, stands the 221 foot monument that marks the battle of Bunker Hill, that took place in the hills above Boston on 17 June 1775. The battle was a loss for the colonists but it also proved to be a “Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon” moment for the young Americans. The die had been cast against far superior British forces and it appeared that violent resistance would not be enough to gain independence. Diplomacy would not be the solution. A long, drawn out war would be inevitable.
As the 2000 plus British troops began landing in preparation to take the “high ground” above Boston. A 1000 colonial Minutemen prepared breastworks on Breed Hill in hopes of stopping the aggressor’s advance. After receiving supporting bombardment of the hill from British Navy frigates in the harbor, the Redcoats advanced on the hill defended by the colonists, led by Colonel William Prescott, in long red columns. Colonel Prescott ordered his lightly armed and equipped volunteers, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” As the British charged, the colonists opened up with their flintlocks, sending a barrage of lead balls toward the professional army, sending them retreating back down the hill. The British troops charged again, and were turned away, then again, a third time. By then, the American Colonel’s men were out of powder and ball. The battle culminated in hand-to-hand combat and the embattled Patriots were forced to retreat, not without inflicting a thousand casualties to the shaken British troops. Three weeks after Bunker Hill, America’s savior, General Geroge Washington would report to Cambridge, Massachusetts to take over command of the Continental Army.