John Trumball’s The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill June 17th, 1775.
~ The Battle of Bunker Hill 1775 ~
In the Charleston district of the City of Boston, Bunker Hill was fortified by Continental Army Commander Colonel William Prescott. With 1,200 untrained colonial regulars he was able to use the 1,100 foot elevation of Bunker Hill to his advantage. At the time it was occupied by the British under General Gage. On June 17, some 2,200 British forces under the command of Major General William Howe and Brigadier General Robert Pigot landed on the Charlestown Peninsula then marched to Breed’s Hill. The British began the attack by the afternoon on June 17th, 1775. The Americans who had worked on the fortifications all night and morning, were tired and exhausted by the intense heat. Breathless they watched and the well disciplined troops advance within ten paces of the breath works. As the British advanced in columns against the Americans, Colonel Prescott, in an effort to conserve the Americans’ limited supply of ammunition, reportedly told his men, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” When the Redcoats were within several dozen yards, the Americans let loose with a lethal barrage of musket fire, throwing the British into retreat. A tremendous volley of shots followed, and the front ranks of the British were swept down. Recoiling for a second, the enemy advanced a second time, and retreated when a second volley even more effective then the first was discharged. General Howe, who had come to reinforce General Gage was repulsed. After two attempts, the British even tried to conceal their movements by the smoke from the fire at Charleston which they had shelled by Cannon fire. The third advance was made toward the American Continentals, who had unfortunately used up all their ammunitions so they engaged in hand to hand combat. The contest was so uneven in numbers that Colonel Prescott was forced to order a retreat. As the Continentals fell back under heavy fire, General Warren, one of the most able of the Patriots, was killed and General Putnam met the retreating army to late to turn the battle into a decisive victory. The British suffered 805 wounded with another 200 dead. The Continentals had 304 wounded with another 100 dead. The British had their Victory, but at a heavy expense.