BATTLE OF "BUNKER HILL"

The battle between the American forces, which were not yet an organized army, and the British troops under the command of Major-General Howe, on June 17, 1775, took place on an elevation of land between the Charles and Mystic rivers, North of the city of Boston.

This piece of land is a peninsula a mile long and less that one-half a mile wide, running from the mainland Southeastward, and was , in 1775, connected with the mainland by a causeway, which was often overflowed by the waters of the Carles river on its West side and the Mystic river on its East side.   Communication was had with Boston by ferries.

From the Northwest end the land rises in a large hill, 110 feet high, which is known as Bunker's Hill.  South of this is another hill, seventy-five feet high, called Breed's Hill, and Southeast of this another hill, called Moulton's Point, thirty-five feet high.

The proper name by which this battle should be know, and the name of the one officer who was superior in command, have been subjects for discussion since that time.  The name of the man we need not discuss at present, but the other is one which we now wish to examine.  It has thus far borne two names, "Bunker's Hill" and "Breed's Hill."

the results of this fight was so important that our countrymen have been glad to do honor to those who participated in it.  The first commemorative parade took place in Charlestown, in 1786.  The first anniversary celebration was made by the Charlestown Artillery, in 1794.  In the same year a monument was erected by King Solomon's Lodge, and dedicated December 2d, to the memory of Joseph Warren, and it was placed on the spot where that noble officer fell, on Breed's Hill.  On June 7, 1823, the Governor of Massachusetts approved an Act of the Legislature, establishing "The Bunker Hill Monument Association."

Why "Bunker Hill?"

In 1775, the Committee of Safety of Charlestown requested the Council of War to defend "Bunker Hill in the city of Charlestown," and left it to their discretion as to how the work should be done.

The Council of War complied with this request, and on June 16, 1775, sent three regiments and a company of artillery to fortify Bunker's Hill.  The orders were given to Col. William Prescott to ve communicated after passing Charlestown Neck (which is the isthmus between the mainland and Bunker Hill).   Those orders commaned Prescott to build fortifications to be planned by the Chief Engineer, Col. Richard Gridley, and defend them until he should be relieved.  After the battle, Col. Prescott wrote to John Adams, then a delegate to Congress, (Frothingham's "Siege of Boston," page 395).
"On the 16 June, in the evening, I received orders to march to Breed's Hill, in Charlestown.  We arrived at the spot; the lines were drawn by the engineer, and we began the intrenchment about twelve o'clock."

The mere fact that the orders contemplated the defence of Bunker hill, before the exact spot was selected, and the other fact that the British engineer, Lieut. Page, so named the battle in his plans, is not sufficient reason for continuing the error.  Lieut. Page wished to give it its proper name.   He found that there was a Breed's Hill and a Bunker Hill.  He saw the orders contemplating the defence of "Bunker's Hill in the city of Charlestown," so he drew his map, and named the battle according to the orders, then he named the hill where the battle occurred according to the orders and so we have his plans, showing the North (Bunker's) Hill, with the name "Breed" on it, and the South (Breed's) Hill with the name "Bunker" on it, and the American historians have followed like sheep, calling it "The Battle of Bunker Hill," and apologizing for so doing.  Mr. Frothingham says Bunker's Hill was "a well-known public place," but Breed's Hill was not "previous to 1775" - who cares?  He also says: "This hill was called Green's Hill in a British description of the town in 1775."  British descriptions of our towns, or our larger cities, are very apt to be wrong even now.

But the same author gives another reason for naming the battle "Bunker Hill," and it is "a rouser;" he says: "Besides, the name 'Breed's Hill' will not do near so well for patriotic purposes.

Thus, in the 'Declaration of Independence' - a poem - the author writes: -
        "Dun clouds of smoke ! avaunt ! Mount Breed, all hail!
        There Glory circled patriot Warren's head."

We respectfully submit:   The name, "Battle of Breed's Hill" should be adopted,
Because the battle was begun there, the redoubt stood there, Warren fell there, the battle was decided there, and both monuments have been there erected.

Besides these, of course, we have another reason, viz.: That the hill was named for the Breed pastures South of the redoubt, which were owned by Ebenezer Breed, the great-grandson of John Breed, who was the second child of that family name born on American Soil, and the fourth son of the father of all the Breeds in America.

 

Breed, J. Howard; "A Record of the Descendants of Allen Bread who came to America from England in 1630;" Hathaway & Brothers, Philadelphia; pp 33- 35

Last revised: June 08, 1999
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