A history of a particular nation will not be much exciting or colourful without the accounts of wars. Indeed, concerning the history of the American and British nations, one of the most important events in their history is the battle of the Bunker Hill, which took place primarily on June 17, 1775. This event has such an important implication for the both sides – American and British army. The following discussion will be on this historical account of war.
The opposition between the two governments begun at the time British had the hold of the authority in Concord and Lexington. The British army is said to be staying in the area for seven years. They have the full control of the government; they regulate the laws, as well as the taxes. But although there are some who remained loyal to the British government, many of the American colonists became tired of being under the British control. For instance, they say that taxes keep on increasing and they have no power at all to prevent it (Burgan, 2007). To make it short, this led to a bloody battle. This is the initial cause of the opposition.
It was about two months after the Battle of Lexington and Concord, that General Thomas Gage of Massachusetts, declared a martial law on June 12, 1775. Business shops and establishments were closed; the only thing happening around Boston is the marching of soldiers (Waldman, 2003). At that time, American colonists were surrounding the city of Boston and the British government considered that it could probably lead for potential attacks from the colonists. They realized that “they could be attacked at any time” (Waldman, 2003). Thus, the British government decided to conquer Dorchester Heights and the Charlestown Peninsula, located across the Boston Harbor from the city. On the other side, the colonists – learning about this British army movement – have made up with a plan of their own (Waldman, 2003). The army were composed of about 15,000 men, all under the command of General Ward. Nearly 10,000 belonged to the Massachusetts, and the remainder came from New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut (Ellis, 2008).
At the outbreak of the war the British Commander-in-chief General Thomas Gage, found the army blocked by the American Continental Army, strongly occupying the hills in the West side of the city (“The Battle of Bunker Hill 1775”, n.d.). In turn, the General decided to seize through the Charlestown Peninsula across the harbor. However, when the British army consisting of about 1500 men – along with some battle ships in the harbor – stepped into the Peninsula on June 17th, 1775, the American colonists had already completed their preparations during the night of June 15th in the Breed’s Hill. One British General, William Howe was astonished when he saw a “great mushroom” fortress built by the American forces. He commented, “The rebels have done more work in one night, than my whole army would have done in one month” (as cited in Irving, 2005, p. 45). The frenzied work of the American colonists at the night before the attack has manifested their intense passion to put down the British movement. The colonists at this time, most probably wanted new regulation of laws and taxes, and were angry with the British forces regarding the previous deaths of Americans at the battles of Lexington and Concord (Englar, 2007). As George Washington watched at the scenario with much worry, he said, “When the enemy first discovered our works in the morning, they seemed to be in great confusion, and from their movements, to intend an attack” (as cited in Irving, 2005, p. 45).
Nevertheless, the British army still insisted in their attack. British ships in the harbor immediately started firing cannonballs against the hill trying to destroy the fortifications. But the colonists remained firmed and continued working on the entrenchment. Though it seems that the colonists looked terrified with the cannonballs rolling towards the fortress, His Excellency, General Washington was present there, encouraging and giving hope for his soldiers. They in return showed enough joy and peace, having “a desire warm desire for the approach of the enemy” (as cited in Irving, 2005, p. 46). The American troop have already prepared enough barrels full of stones and sand, ready to be rolled down the hill as soon as the British assailants advance.
British General Howe landed his troops on the southern part of the peninsula and commanded the light infantry to attack the section of American force at the sea shore (“The Battle of Bunker Hill 1775”, n.d.). However, it seems that the British army failed to consider that the colonists would have the capability to resist frontal assaults, overestimating the ability of their forces to make a successful frontal attack. In spite of an American shortage of ammunition, the first attack led to a retreat of the British army. However, reinforcement brought for the British army led to a second attack but still was driven back with great loss. Nevertheless, the final assault of the British army brought to an absolute exhaustion of the American ammunition, forcing the colonists to leave the peninsula. At the end of this war, it was recorded that the British army had a casualty of about 1,150 killed and wounded, while the American force had about 450 killed and wounded soldiers. For some, the battle is a victory of the British army; nevertheless, looking at the difference between the casualties of both sides, American troops had a little casualty than the British army. The British army took over the Bunker and Breed’s Hill and fortified them; but this lasted only until they left Boston at the end of the year (“The Battle of Bunker Hill 1775”, n.d.).
The battle had many lessons for the armies of both governments. For the British, they probably learned the mistake they made with their frontal attack against the American fortress itself. For the Americans, they could have learned the great importance of having more than enough ammunition for war. For both sides, the battle of Bunker Hill is a military education.