American Heritage: British take heavy punch to the chinPublished 9:50pm Wednesday, August 8, 2012
As was seen in our last article, the first charge against the colonists at the Battle of Bunker Hill was driven back with heavy British casualties. This battle had actually taken place at Breed’s Hill. Col. William Prescott decided to place his men there instead of Bunker Hill.
Three thousand British landed on the peninsula under Howe’s command.
The British decided to march up the hill in line of battle. As they did so, the colonists were ordered by Gen. Putman — who rode along the colonists’ lines on horseback — not to fire until the men saw the white of British eyes. When the order to fire came, the front line of the British was cut down. This did not discourage the British. They continued their march, and the second line was cut down like the first. They retreated, leaving behind many dead and wounded.
About 15 minutes later, the British tried to attack, but this time it was along the colonists’ entrenchments. The British were driven with more heavy casualties.
The British decided to make a third try about an hour later. This time, they decided to make their attack against the earthworks in the permanent fortifications of the center of the colonist positions.
The British were successful. The colonists were low on ammunition and were driven back. The attack was the same by the British, but had the colonists had the ammunition to continue to defend the hill, the British army would have probably been wiped out.
The colonists had to leave the peninsula.
Having been successful in taking the colonists’ fortification, the British decided not to pursue.
The British took a heavy punch to the chin with 1,150 of their men either killed or wounded. The colonists only suffered 450. Had the colonists not run low on ammunition, victory may have been on their side.
The main problem for the American fighters was their reinforcements on Bunker Hill refused to support those who were involved in the fight. This was due to a group of officers who were confused on what their action should be.
After chasing the colonists off the peninsula, the British began to fortify the Breed’s Hill and the Bunker Hill positions.
They remained in charge of the fortifications until the end of the year. They decided to evacuate Boston.