- This article is about the battle itself. You may be looking for the memory of the same name.
- "So maintain vigilance. Conserve your ammo. Ensure a proper line of sight. And above all else, men, do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes."
- ―Israel Putnam, addressing his soldiers.[src]
The Battle of Bunker Hill, occasionally referred to as the Battle of Breed's Hill, was an event that took place on 17 June 1775, during the early stages of the American Revolutionary War.
The battle is named after the adjacent Bunker Hill, which was peripherally involved in the battle and was the original objective of both Colonial and British troops. It was during this battle that British major and Templar John Pitcairn was assassinated by the Assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton, more commonly known as Connor.
- "I don't care much for your excuses, gentlemen. We should be building on Bunker Hill. Breed's is closer to the city, but it is also closer to their artillery!"
- ―General Putnam explaining his reasoning to the other commanders.[src]
During their march towards Boston, the Continental Army encamped on the hills near Charlestown, occupying Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill. Despite being ordered to fortify Bunker Hill, General Prescott chose to fortify the latter. Fellow General Israel Putnam opposed the decision, as Breed's Hill was closer to the British ships in the harbor, and easier to climb.
As Putnam argued his case, British artillery began bombarding the position, killing several Patriot soldiers. During the bombardment, Connor, advised by Samuel Adams to meet Putnam, arrived at Breed's Hill to seek out John Pitcairn, who was leading the British troops. Despite Putnam's cynicism, Connor survived a dash through Charlestown under bombardment, swam out into the bay, and sank two British ships to stop the barrage.
- "It seems we are well and truly at war... A pity, that. For it's a war we did not ask for. A war we did not wish... And why would we? We're killing our brothers down there - and for what? Duty? Honor? Liberty and justice as the Yanks claim? No."
- ―John Pitcairn speaking to his soldiers.[src]
After Howe launched the attack, he divided his forces, expecting a quick victory against the disorganized American forces. Connor returned to Breed's Hill as Putnam was delivering his famous "Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes" speech to his troops, and soon sighted Pitcairn encamped on Moulton's Hill behind British lines. Regarding how he could reach Pitcairn, Putnam suggested that Connor wait for the British lines to be thinned down, or to circle around the battlefield, but he instead chose to charge straight through the battlefield.
The British Army had the upper hand with better organization and discipline, keeping the Continental troops pinned down with volley fire. Small pockets of Patriot fighters hid behind cover and returned intermittent fire. The fighting forced Connor to cross the battlefield and infiltrate the British camp by taking a sideways route by scaling Moulton's Hill, where he spotted several British reinforcements making their way around the Hill. From there, he made his way to Pitcairn without being seen, and assassinated him from above. Following that, he returned to Putnam.
By this time, the British had already attacked the American lines and retreated twice. However, more British reinforcements were arriving, and the Americans, who in addition to being constantly blasted by British artillery fire, were quickly running out of ammunition. By the time Connor returned, the Patriots had lost a lot of men, and Putnam ordered a full retreat.
- "I'm ordering a full retreat. We have lost too many in exchange for too little."
- ―Putnam to Connor[src]
The battle resulted in heavy casualties for both sides. The Patriots withdrew from the battlefield to focus their efforts around Boston. Connor warned Putnam that there was a bigger threat, revealing a letter he retrieved from Pitcairn that detailed a plot to assassinate George Washington.
The battle was a Pyrrhic victory for the British. They suffered more than twice the casualties the Patriots did, and the battle served as a morale booster to the Patriots, proving that they could hold their own against the British.