“On June 17, 1775, over one thousand New England militia stood on a hill overlooking Charlestown, Massachusetts and Boston Harbor. Arrayed in front of them in their scarlet and white uniforms, brushed clean for the occasion, were regiments of the British Army. Their goal was to take this hill from the erstwhile colonists-turned-rebels and fortify it, which would prevent the rebels from controlling the harbor.
Honor would not allow General Thomas Gage, commander of British Forces in North America and governor of the Colony of Massachusetts, to stand by while farmers and merchants made pitiful displays of defiance. Gage expected these amateur soldiers to flee at the sight of his professional army. Instead, to the shock of British command, the American colonists stood and fought. It was a confusing affair, with half of the militia forces not even engaged.
In fact, even the name of the battle is misleading, as much of the fighting took place on Breed’s Hill, while the American headquarters was on Bunker Hill. The battle was one of the earliest engagements in the American War for Independence and one that would shape British strategy for the rest of the war. Though by the end of the day, the British soldiers held all three hills on the Charlestown Peninsula, they suffered tremendous losses, making it a Pyrrhic victory.
The American colonists, on the other hand, would look on the battle fondly, marking it as the day the Americans stood up to the tyranny of the British Empire.”
This episode was written by Michael Gabbe-Gross.
Michael received his Masters Degree in History from the California State University, Sacramento. His thesis project analyzed the Phoenix Program, a CIA counterinsurgency operation during the Vietnam War.