The Bunker Hill Monument



The Bunker Hill Monument, made entirely of granite taken from a quarry in Quincy, MA stands on the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution, fought on Breed's Hill, June 17, 1775.

Important to the British occupation of Boston was control of the high ground near the harbor. When colonial forces chose to fortify Charlestown, they bypassed the more dominant "Bunker Hill" and dug in on Breed's Hill which was lower and closer to the water. "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" is the legendary order attributed to Colonel William Prescott to make sure that each shot would count.

The poorly trained and ill prepared colonial forces repelled two major assaults by the British Army before retreating. Almost half of the British soldiers were either killed or injured. Although the colonists lost the battle, their bravery and strong showing against the British encouraged them to fight on.

As for the monument itself the Bunker Hill Monument Association was incorporated in 1823 for the purpose of purchasing the battlegrounds of June 17, 1775 and constructing on the site a suitable memorial.

The Association appointed a Board of Artists to recommend a form for the monument. The Board, which included Daniel Webster, Gilbert Stuart and Loammi Baldwin, a noted engineer, is credited with being the monument's designer.

Construction, under the direction of architect Solomon Willard, began in 1827, but work was frequently halted as available funds were depleted. To bring the project to completion the Association in 1838 began to sell off the ten acres of the battlefield as house lots, eventually preserving only the summit of Breed's Hill as the monument grounds. On June 17, 1843, with Daniel Webster as orator, the completed monument was dedicated.

The Association maintained the monument and grounds until 1919 when it was turned over to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 1976 the Monument was transferred to the National Park Service and became a unit of Boston National Historical Park.

Local lore makes much of the battle's misnomer; the battle actually took place on Breed's Hill. To keep the guidebooks simple, Breed's Hill was renamed Bunker Hill, and the original Bunker Hill was flattened. Many visitors end their Freedom Trail tour here. So after walking the freedom trail you may feel energetic enough to challenge the 290 odd steps to the top the Bunker Hill monument.

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