The Battle of Bunker Hill, which took place on June 17, 1775, was the first major battle of the American Revolutionary War. The main commanders were Major General William Howe on the British side, and Colonel William Prescott on the Americans’.
The British were under siege in Boston, Massachusetts, so they planned to take the nearby and strategically valuable Dorchester Heights to give them control of Boston Harbor. Upon learning this, the Americans built defenses on the Charlestown peninsula, which was just over the river from Boston, on the night of June 16–17.
The British attacked the American positions on June 17. Despite being called the Battle of Bunker Hill, most of it was actually fought at nearby Breed’s Hill. Americans on the left at a stone wall and rail fence successfully held off the British soldiers. However, the British attack at the Americans’ redoubt and breastwork, though repulsed twice, eventually overwhelmed the colonists. The British and Americans engaged in fierce hand-to-hand fighting within the redoubt, and the Americans were forced to abandon their position and retreat off the peninsula.
British casualties from the Battle of Bunker Hill were approximately 1,000; the Americans suffered around 450 casualties. Although the Battle of Bunker Hill was a loss for the Americans, it demonstrated that the colonists were willing and able to fight the renowned British army.
Learn more about the Battle of Bunker Hill through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.