| American History Stories, Volume II|
|by Mara L. Pratt|
|Tales of Revolutionary times, including the causes of the American Revolution, the daring exploits of those defending liberty, the early battles, the struggles of the army, and the heroes who led the colonists to victory. Ages 8-12 |
BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL
 GREAT indeed was the excitement throughout the colonies when
the news of the battle of Lexington was carried from
town to town. Meetings were called in every town,
congresses were held, armies formed—for everyone
knew now that war had indeed begun. Soon, some fifteen
thousand men collected from the different colonies
about Boston, and these succeeded in giving General
Gage a good scare.
All this time the king of England and his counselors
were fretting and fuming because of the obstinacy of
the American colonists. They sent over more troops,
and when General Gage heard of their arrival he began
to grow brave again. He sent out a proclamation,
saying that if the colonists would lay down their guns
and say they were sorry, he would see that the
government of England forgave them and received them
into English favor again—all but Samuel Adams and
John Hancock; those two men, he said, were past
forgiveness, and ought rather to be hanged. It is
needless to say that the colonists were not at all
moved by General Gage's generous offer of forgiveness.
They kept straight on about their plans.
On the 16th of June, a detachment of the American
soldiers, outside of Boston, was commanded to go over
to Charleston and fortify Bunker Hill.
Under the cover of darkness, the soldiers climbed
 Hill, this being nearer Boston, and quietly threw up
the earth in such a way as to form ditches and forts.
Imagine the surprise of the British the next morning,
when they looked across the water and found the
Americans working away, busy as bees, finishing up
their night's work.
The British cannon were turned upon them, but in vain.
"We must march up the hill ourselves," said General
Howe; and soon three thousand soldiers were on the way
to attack the Americans. Eagerly the soldiers watched
from behind their embankment; eagerly the British
troops in Boston watched; and eagerly watched the
women and children from the house-tops. O it was a
terrible day for dear old Boston!
Up the hill climbed the British soldiers, firing at
every step. At the top, behind the embankment,
crouched the brave fifteen hundred, silent as death.
"Boys," said good Colonel Prescott, "we have no powder
to waste; aim low; and don't fire until you can see
the whites of their eyes."
And so, I suppose, the British, receiving no shots as
they climbed the hill, thought they were going to climb
straight over the entrenchments into the American
quarters. But, as we know, these Americans had other
The red-coats were nearly up the hill. Their waving
plumes were nearly on a level with the hill-top.
"Fire," commanded the officer. Bang! bang! bang!
 the fifteen hundred muskets. The British soldiers
fell, mowed down like grain before the scythe. Then on
they came again. Again, bang! bang! bang! went the
fifteen hundred muskets; and again the British fell
back in dismay. It was a long time before they made
their third attack; and the hearts of the brave men
within the intrenchment, and the brave women praying
from the house-tops, beat high in the hope that the
battle was over.
But soon the British forces rallied, and made one
mighty rush over the dead bodies of their fallen
brothers, upon the intrenchment. The Americans were
now, many of them, without powder; and although they
battled hand to hand with clubs and stones, the British
reached the summit, and drove the Americans down the
hill to Charlestown Neck.
This was the first regular battle of the Revolution;
and although the Americans were defeated, still the
defeat brought about so many good results, that, after
all, perhaps it was quite as good as a victory; for it
showed the British soldiers and the British king that
the colonists were not to be subdued by simple threats;
while, on the other hand it
 fired the colonists with courage and zeal. They knew
now that there was no escape from war; they had
learned that, untrained though they were, they could
fight even the British regulars; they knew that, had
their ammunition not given out, the day would have been
theirs. And so, although they had lost some of their
bravest men and although they had been defeated, there
was no feeling of discouragement in the hearts of the
BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics