"Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" This legendary order has come to symbolize the conviction and determination of the ill-equipped American colonists facing powerful British forces during the famous battle fought on this site on June 17, 1775. The battle is popularly known as "The Battle of Bunker Hill" although most of the fighting actually took place on Breed's Hill, the site of the existing monument and exhibit lodge. Today, a 221-foot granite obelisk marks the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution.
The Battle of Bunker Hill pitted a newly-formed and inexperienced colonial army against the more highly trained and better-equipped British. Despite the colonial army's shortcomings, it was led by such capable men as Colonel William Prescott, Colonel John Stark and General Israel Putnam, who had experience fighting alongside the British in the French and Indian War. Although the British Army ultimately prevailed in the battle, the colonists greatly surprised the British by repelling two major assaults and inflicting great casualties. Out of the 2,200 British ground forces and artillery engaged at the battle, almost half (1,034) were counted afterwards as casualties (both killed and wounded). The colonists lost between 400 and 600 combined casualties, including popular patriot leader and newly-elected Major-General Dr. Joseph Warren, who was killed during the third and final assault.
The first monument on the site was an 18-foot wooden pillar with a gilt urn erected in 1794 by King Solomon's Lodge of Masons to honor fallen patriot and mason, Dr. Joseph Warren. In 1823, a group of prominent citizens formed the Bunker Hill Monument Association to construct a more permanent and significant monument to commemorate the famous battle. The existing monument was finally completed in 1842 and dedicated on June 17, 1843, in a major national ceremony. The exhibit lodge was built in the late nineteenth century to house a statue of Dr. Warren.
Visit the new Battle of Bunker Hill Museum
Bunker Hill Site Bulletin (1.9mb pdf)
Salem Poor: A brave and gallant soldier (76kb pdf)
What? No Elevator? And Other Facts About Bunker Hill Monument (232kb pdf)