Friday, August 21, 2009

Bunker Hill Monument

On the morning of June 17, 1775, New England provincials, subjects of the king, stood up to the mighty British army for the first time in battle. They repulsed two assults before retreating during a third attack.It all started twelve years prior, when new taxes on sugar and other goods had been emposed on the colonists to help pay for the British government's huge debt from the French and Indian War. The Patriots felt that "taxation without representation is tyranny" and staged protests, leading up to the Boston Tea Party where over 342 chests of tea were dumped into Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773. All that tea would cost more than $1 million in today's currency. The British government passed a series of punitive measures and sent soldiers and sailors to Boston to enforce a blockade of the harbor. Martial law was established and British general Thomas Gage replaced the civilian governor. The colonists retaliated by creating a parallel government, the Provincial Congress. Militia groups, called minutemen, began training in case British troops asserted their authority. Lexington, Concord and Arlington were where the first clashes between the minutemen and British troops occured.

Following these skirmishes, the rebel Committee of Safety asked the men of Massachusetts to raise an army. In a few short weeks, men from all over New England arrived to lay siege to Boston. Before long, some ten to fifteen thousand colonists had surrounded Boston, and General Gage found his army encircled.

More troops were sent from England and the British generals decided to seize the hills of Charlestown and Dorchester Neck to regain control of Boston. The colonists discovered the British plan and, led by Col. William Prescott, built a fort on Breed's Hill after passing over Bunker Hill. The next morning, the British army was surprised to find a fort had been built overnight! In the afternoon of June 17, the King's army landed on the shores of Charlestown, setting the town on fire. Told by General Prescott to "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes", the inexperienced militia men held off the British. The first two attacks on the hill were disastrous for the British army. However, the colonists had exhausted their ammunition and the British army was able to scale the fort and push the colonists off the hill.

Although the British army had won the battle, the colonists realized that they had fought one of the finest armies in the world and had turned them back twice. Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John, "The day, perhaps the decisive day has come, on which the fate of America depends." The American Revolution had begun.

The Bunker Hill Monument was built to commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill, although is not on Bunker Hill but instead on Breed's Hill where most of the fighting in the misnamed Battle of Bunker Hill actually took place. The 221 foot (67 m) granite obelisk was erected between 1827 and 1843 of with granite from Quincy, Massachusetts, conveyed to the site via the Granite Railway, built specially for that purpose, followed by a trip by barge.

There are 294 steps to the top, and we felt each one of them for several days!

Well, I hope you enjoyed our little trip to Boston and learned some American history along the way! OK, I admit, it really is much more interesting now than when I had to memorize all those dates, and even better when you can walk around the battle field. I promise there won't be any quizzes!


  1. Your trip was very interesting! I really didn't like history much in school because it was a bunch of memorization.....boring. I LOVE it now and I think it is why we take our kids to so many places because it is real AND interesting. We need to go to Boston now:)

  2. Great pics, Lisa! And nice little history refresher! Love that staircase photo.