Tensions had been escalating for weeks and the British warship Lively had been sitting in the Boston Harbor. The American militiamen had a surprise for the redcoats.
- As the sun rose on June 17, 1775, sailors on the British warship Lively were surprised. A fort stood on a hill across the Charles River. The fort had not been there the day before.
- American militiamen had quietly worked through the night assembling the fort. They hid behind it while cannons from the ship blasted at them.
- The redcoats crossed the river by boat and lined up in battle formation under Bunker Hill.
- The British didn’t know it, but the Americans had very little ammunition. Some of the soldiers had stopped on their way to melt old pipes into bullets.
- The American commander Colonel William Prescott, knowing how little ammunition they had, told the patriots to wait to shoot until they could “see the whites of their eyes.”
- The redcoats approached the hill. No shots. They came closer. All at once, there was a barrage of gunfire. The redcoats retreated.
- Their officers beat them with swords and forced them to go back up the hill where the Americans once again fired on them.
- Finally, the Americans ran out of ammunition. The British charged over the walls of the fort and the patriots retreated.
- Both sides sustained heavy losses, but the British lost almost half their men that day. Almost 1,000 British soldiers were killed or wounded.
- Militiamen: soldiers
- Patriots: the colonial soldiers were sometimes called patriots
- Redcoat: a British soldier, named for his uniform
Questions and Answers
Question: Were all the soldiers young?
Answer: No, men of all ages fought in the Revolutionary War. American patriot, Dr. Joseph Warren, was killed during the Battle of Bunker Hill. His body was recovered a year later when the British left Boston.
Paul Revere identified it because of the two false teeth he had wired into the doctor’s mouth. John Pitcairn, a British major, died at Bunker Hill in his son’s arms.
Watch a short video about the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Cite This Page
You may cut-and-paste the below MLA and APA citation examples:
MLA Style Citation
Declan, Tobin. " The Battle of Bunker Hill Facts ." American History for Kids, Jan 2021. Web. 20 Jan 2021. < https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/battle-bunker-hill/ >.
APA Style Citation
Tobin, Declan. (2021). The Battle of Bunker Hill Facts. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/battle-bunker-hill/