The Battle of Bunker Hill was one of the earliest engagements of the Revolutionary War, and the Bunker Hill Monument, a 221-foot granite obelisk, was one of our nation’s first monuments. Neither the battlefield nor the monument, however, are actually located on Bunker Hill. The monument sits atop Breed’s Hill, where most of the fighting occurred.
After the battles of Lexington and Concord, the colonial army besieged the City of Boston, which was held by the British. On the night of June 16, 1775, Colonel William Prescott led a force of 1,200 men onto the Charlestown Peninsula, across the Charles River from Boston, to fortify Breed’s Hill. They built a square earthen redoubt, from which they could fire artillery at British ships on the water and British forces in Boston.
On June 17, the British landed two columns on the peninsula, totaling 1,500 men, with 400 reinforcements joining the final attack, and stormed the colonists’ defenses. Though victorious, they suffered 226 dead and 828 wounded, the highest British casualty count of the war. The colonists lost 135 dead (including 20 prisoners) and 305 wounded.
The white, granite obelisk, towering over the narrow streets of Charlestown (now a Boston neighborhood) was designed by Solomon Willard and built between 1825 and 1843. A statue of Colonel William Prescott, credited with uttering the famous order, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” stands on the path leading to the obelisk. A nearby museum, at the corner of Monument Square and Monument Avenue, opened in 2007.
The Bunker Hill Monument is located in Monument Square, Charlestown (Boston), Massachusetts. The Bunker Hill Museum is open daily, off-season (November through April), 1 p.m. to 5 p.m, and in-season (May through October) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free to the public.