Member Book Review: Bunker Hill: A City, A Siege, A Revolution

Bunker Hill book coverBunker Hill: A City, A Siege, a Revolution, by Nathaniel Philbrick

The Battle of Bunker Hill is part myth and part bluster. First of all, it was not even fought on Bunker Hill, but on Breed’s Hill, a much lower hill. The actual battle was in some respects a blunder by both the rebels and the British, but is noted especially for the blunders made by the British commanding general, Lord William Howe, who had the reputation of being the most able of all British soldiers and leaders. This battle has the record for being the bloodiest battle of the eight-year-long Revolutionary War, and took place before General George Washington arrived in Massachusetts to take over command of the patriot army.

However the battle was fought, there was no definitive conclusion. The British lost more soldiers than did the rebels; nonetheless, they declared themselves the victors. Within months of his arrival, General Washington and the patriot army built vast earthworks with cannons aimed at the British in Boston and began to lay siege to the city. Observing the build-up of rebel forces around the city, General Howe and other British military leaders decided to withdraw. They loaded up their ships with more than 6,000 soldiers, supplies, and British loyalists and retreated to Halifax, Canada. So, the patriots won the Battle of Bunker Hill after all.

Nathaniel Philbrick traces the lives of a number of patriots during this time period, including Abigail Adams and her son, the future president John Quincy Adams. The book also includes information about John and Samuel Adams—who, along with John Hancock, happened to be in Philadelphia at the Continental Congress at the time of the battle—as well as Dr. Joseph Warren, a patriot general who chose to fight along with the patriot soldiers but who died during the battle.

–Submitted by avid Chatham County Library “power patron” Richard Peterson

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