The Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775, was the first major battle of the Revolutionary War and predicted the character and outcome of the rest of the war. It took a force of 2,200 Redcoats three assaults to dislodge the Colonial Militia from a hastily constructed redoubt atop Breed’s Hill in Charlestown. It was in this battle that, "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" is said to have been uttered by Colonel William Prescott and has come to immortalize the determination of the ill-equipped Colonists. While technically a British victory, the Battle of Bunker Hill proved that Colonial forces could fight effectively against the British.
The cornerstone of the Bunker Hill monument was laid in 1825 by Revolutionary War hero Marquis De Lafayette on the 50th anniversary of the battle. The 221 foot granite obelisk would not be completed until 1842.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? Confusion about the name of the hill where the battle occurred goes back to the battle itself. Colonel William Prescott’s orders were to fortify Bunker’s Hill but he chose Breed’s Hill instead. A detailed map of the battle prepared by British Army Lieutenant Page reversed the two hills. Whatever the original error, the conflict was always known as the Battle of Bunker Hill.
BUNKER HILL MUSEUM Located across from the Monument is the Battle of Bunker Hill Museum. Along with dioramas and murals, artifacts from the battle itself on display include a cannonball; a snare drum; a sword; a masonic apron belonging to revolutionary leader Dr. Joseph Warren, who perished in the fight; and a trowel used by the Marquis de Lafayette in the groundbreaking for the monument on the 50th anniversary of the battle.
Freedom Trail Foundation tours that feature this site:
Walk Into History Tours — North End
School and Private Tours. Call (617) 357-8300 for details.
Boston National Historical Park - National Park Service Ranger Tours
Bunker Hill Monument & Museum, Boston National Historical Park
Museum: September - June, daily 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
July - August, daily 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Monument: September-June, daily 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
July - August, 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Closed: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day
617-242-5641 (Group tours 617-.242-5689)