An Analysis of the Battle of Bunker Hill

Topics: Battle of Bunker Hill, Siege of Boston, William Howe, 5th Viscount Howe Pages: 5 (1541 words) Published: April 24, 2012

Leading up to the official declaration of war between the United States of America and Great Britain; Boston, Massachusetts was regarded as a geostrategic epicenter of pre-revolutionary activity, and represented a key political and military stronghold in New England and the entire Northern Theater of the war that eventually erupted. Following the punitive passage of the Massachusetts Government Act in 1774, royal British officials took residence in Boston, conducting most of their gubernatorial business from within the confines of the city. British troops, who have been stationed in Boston since 1768 in response to ever-growing civic unrest and public protests (previously culminating in such focal junctures as the Boston Massacre in 1770 and the Boston Tea Party in 1773), served as the city’s garrison, martial police force, and bodyguard to the royal officials. The newly appointed governor of Boston, General Thomas Gage, was at the time also the incumbent commander-in-chief of British forces in all of North America and oversaw a force of 4,000 regulars garrisoned within the city . The commencing actions of this rudimentary corps under his command defined the early onset of the Revolutionary War, highlighted in particular by the Battle of Bunker Hill - the significance and impact of which on the greater war itself is the answer I aim to provide in response to the research question. The backdrop to the battle was comprised by several important moves, developments, and confrontations, marking the official beginning of the conflict which would ultimately continue over the next eight years. On September 1st, 1774, General Gage ordered the seizure and removal of a provincial gunpowder magazine and the confiscation of two 12-iber field artillery pieces located near Winter Hill, a small elevation just West of Charlestown. The incident, which would later become known as the Powder Alarm, prompted the Continental troops to spend the following several months assembling their militia regiments, securing supplies and armaments, and establishing a strong presence in the territory surrounding Boston in preparation for armed confrontation with the British crown . The ominous, months-long anticipation finally materialized on April 19, 1775, into the nascent engagements of the Revolutionary War, with first shots fired in Lexington, and later that day in Concord - where around 500 minutemen outgunned a company of British regulars, deployed by Gage under orders to capture and destroy rebel arms stockpiles. The retreating British troops proceeded to suffer heavy casualties on a 21-hour, 40 mile long retreat from Concord to Boston, pursued and repeatedly ambushed by hundreds of militiamen. After finally reaching safety on high ground in Charlestown and getting screened by the long-range cannons of the British gunship, HMS Somerset, anchored at the crossing of Charles River, the British forces were besieged inside Boston . During the subsequent two months leading up to the battle, British re-enforcements were sent at the request of General Gage. On May 25th, a British vessel arrived in Boston with the highly distinguished General-Viscount William Howe, and General-Colonel Henry Clinton; along with the less critically-acclaimed, General John Burgoyne, to assist Gage in planning and executing the efforts of liberating Boston. Strengthened by the re-enforcements and the strategic expertise of three highly decorated generals, Gage formulated a tactical plan to raise the Colonial siege by occupying the hilltops surrounding the city . Boston was situated on a peninsula connected to the Charlestown peninsula in the north, by the isthmus called Charlestown Neck. In the rear of the village of Charlestown, rose Breed's Hill, while farther back was situated a higher elevation known as Bunker Hill . The Continental Army, commanded by General Artemas Ward, was headquartered at Cambridge and stretched halfway...

Cited: 1. Frothingham, Richard. History of the Siege of Boston, and of the Battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. 6th. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1903.
2. Dobbs, John F. From Bunker Hill to Manilla Bay: A Record of Battles. New York: 1906.
3. Drake, Samuel. Bunker Hill. Boston: Nichols and Hall, 1875.
4. Chidsey, Donald B. The Siege of Boston. Boston: Crown, 1966
5. Ketchum, Richard. Decisive Day: The Battle of Bunker Hill. New York, 1999
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