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Celebrate Bunker Hill Day

Remembering American Revolution’s first major battle

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Bunker Hill Day is a holiday in Massachusetts’ Suffolk County. Photo courtesy of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau

Much of the American Revolution was fought and won in Boston’s backyard, and today Bostonians commemorate the 238th anniversary of the first major battle of the war—the Battle of Bunker Hill. The siege, which took place on June 17, 1775, marked the first time the newly formed and inexperienced colonial army fought the more highly trained and better-equipped British troops.

Although the Brits ultimately won the battle, the colonists managed to repel two major assaults and inflict great casualties: 1,034 were killed or wounded, nearly half of the 2,200 British soldiers engaged in the fighting, compared to the colonists’ approximately 500 injured or killed. The battle resulted in one of the most famous military orders ever issued—“Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!”—although it remains unclear which colonial officer delivered it.

Today’s remembrance begins at 10 a.m. with a Bunker Hill Day Ecumenical Prayer Service at St. Francis de Sales Church, 313 Bunker Hill St., Charlestown. After the short ceremony, celebrants will walk to an 11 a.m. gathering for Patriotic Exercises at the Bunker Hill Monument, sponsored by the James W. Conway American Legion Post 26, the Bunker Hill Monument Association, and the National Park Service. Leading the event will be Eileen Locke, junior vice commander of the Conway American Legion Post 26, and speaking will be Richard J. Stewart, grand master of the Massachusetts Freemasons. There will also be a brass band and historical reenactors from the Charlestown Militia Company.

History buffs know that describing the siege as the Battle of Bunker Hill is misleading. Most of the fighting actually took place on nearby Breed’s Hill, which is the site of the 221-foot granite obelisk Bunker Hill Monument and the Bunker Hill Museum—two locations worth visiting while you’re there. Bunker Hill is actually about a half mile north of the monument, and is slightly taller than Breed’s Hill.

The Bunker Hill Monument is in Monument Square, Charlestown, Mass. To get there by public transportation, take the MBTA Green Line inbound, change at Downtown Crossing to the Orange Line outbound and get off at the Bunker Hill Community College stop, and walk up Austin Street towards Monument Park. Find more information here.

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Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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