June 17: Bunker Hill Day (Suffolk Co., Mass.)
The Battle of Bunker Hill, one of the most famous battles of the Revolutionary War, for the most part did not take place on Bunker Hill. After dark on June 16, 1775, about 1,200 colonial soldiers moved onto the Charlestown peninsula overlooking Boston (occupied by the British) and began to construct a redoubt on Breed’s Hill. When the British discovered the work party at dawn the next day, British ships in the harbor immediately opened fire. British general William Howe was given command of an assault force of 2,400 men but had to wait for a favorable tide at noon to land his troops. By then, the American position was garrisoned by 1,600 men and 6 cannons. Twice Howe’s troops, burdened by heavy packs, moved up the hill and were turned back by heavy fire. Reinforced for a third assault, Howe had his men drop their packs and ordered a bayonet attack. By that time, the patriots had run out of powder, and the British seized the hill, then rapidly assaulted Bunker Hill, as the American retreat became a rout. The British won, but at the cost of 1,054 casualties, many of them officers. Patriot losses numbered 100 dead and 267 wounded.