Stories, Myths Of Bunker Hill's Famous Battle

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A William Prescott statue at Bunker Hill Monument (brewbooks/Flickr)
A William Prescott statue at Bunker Hill Monument (brewbooks/Flickr)

"Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes." That well-known order is said to have been issued by Col. William Prescott at the Battle of Bunker Hill, in Charlestown, on June 17, 1775. He was trying to save ammunition so that every bullet fired would fell an advancing British redcoat.

Because of that famous battle, many people in state government have this day off. But what else do we know about the battle? Well, it didn't really happen on Bunker Hill but on nearby Breed's Hill — the colonists actually lost control of the hill during the course of the battle, rather than hold it.

We get the story straight from Thomas Fleming, who wrote what many say is the most complete account of the battle written. "Now We Are Enemies" was published 50 years ago, and the book has been re-issued in an anniversary edition.

Web extra: Fleming on his latest book, "The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers"


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