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The Battle of Bunker Hill: June 17, 1775

Battle of Bunker Hill Image
On June 17, 1775, American colonists clashed with the British in the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major battle of the American Revolution.

At the time, the British occupying Boston were under siege and thus aimed to take the nearby and strategically valuable Dorchester Heights. In response, the Americans decided to build defenses on the Charlestown peninsula, which was just over the river from Boston. Originally ordered to dig in on Bunker Hill, the senior officers decided instead to build their redoubt on nearby Breed’s Hill, which was closer to Boston. On the night of June 16—17, the Americans worked to build a redoubt and in the morning began a breastwork as well.

The British realized what the Americans were up to and, when morning came, planned an attack. They decided to send some of the British forces in a frontal assault against the redoubt and breastwork while the main attack would hit the American left, which was weak. However, during the time it took for the British to cross the river and then wait for reinforcements, the Americans strengthened their left with last-minute fortifications.

1875 centennial reenactment of the Battle of Bunker Hill

The majority of the fighting took place at three locations on or near Breed’s Hill: the redoubt and breastwork, a rail fence to the breastwork’s left rear, and a stone wall down on the beach below the rail fence. Americans at the stone wall and rail fence successfully held off the British when they came at the Americans’ left. However, the British attack at the redoubt and breastwork, though repulsed twice, eventually overwhelmed the Americans, once the British artillery joined in and the colonists ran low on gunpowder and ammunition. The British and Americans engaged in fierce hand-to-hand fighting within the redoubt, and the Americans were forced to abandon their position and retreat off the peninsula.

Excerpt of letter to Congress from American wounded at Battle of Bunker Hill
Despite the British victory, casualties were high. Approximately 1,054 out of 2,500 British were killed or wounded. As for the Americans, they suffered around 450 casualties out of a force of 3,000 (though probably only about half that number were actually engaged in the battle). Although the Battle of Bunker Hill was a loss for the Americans, it eventually came to represent the colonists’ ability to take on the renowned British army.

Did you have ancestors who fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill? Tell us about it! Or if you want to learn more about the battle and the people who fought in it, start a search on Fold3.


  1. Mary Ann Derr says:

    My husband has an ancestor who was accused of stealing hogsheads of sugar and rum from the British after they were driven out of Boston and anchored ships near Oyster Bay, Lonf Island. I would like to have a complete story about the number of men who had to take these barrels across the sound to Conn. The name is John Tuthill b.8Sept. 1742.
    His son Daniel was also reported to be a part of Paul Revere’s Minute Men.
    Any books on this activity of the Patriots wouldbe wecoe

    • Kathleen Wagner says:

      John Tuthill, b. 8 Sep 1742, is recognized by the DAR as a patriot. Several DAR members are descendants of John through his son Daniel. This would make your husband eligible for membership in the Sons of the Amercian Revolution.

  2. Jeffrey Crowell says:

    I have an ancestor, Nicholas Brown, who was with Dearborn’s company in Gen John Stark’s NH militia, who fought at the Rail Fence. Nicholas’ son Daniel, had a daughter, Nancy, who married my Gt Gt Grandfather, Newman Crowell. It would fun (if not impossible) to know if Nicholas was down at the rocks on the Beach, or up on the Rail Fence.

  3. Toni Geren says:

    My 6th Gr. Grandfather, William Cheney (Cheeney on memorial) was killed at Bunker Hill June 17, 1775.

  4. John Georges says:

    My 3C7R Thomas Knowlton commanded the Ashford Company of the Connecticut militia at Breed’s Hill, where they built a hasty but effective breastworks overnight. He only lost 3 men in the battle, and his company provided cover for the retreating militias after their ammo ran low. During the battle his musket was shot out of his hand by a cannon ball, bending the barrel into a U shape.

    In June 1775, for his bravery at Bunker Hill, Knowlton was promoted by Congress to major. One of his men later remembered that Knowlton was very courageous, never crying, “Go on, boys!” but always, “Come on, boys!”.

  5. Kathleen Wagner says:

    My 6x great grandfather, Archibald McMillan of New Boston, NH, was a private in Captain William Scott’s company of Colonel John Stark’s regiment at the battle of Bunker Hill. Archibald was wounded in the right elbow by a musket ball and lost the use of his right hand. He was unable to follow his trade of weaver and petitioned the NH General Assembly for a pension. His pension papers include a statement from Col. Stark which states “Archibald McMillan of New Boston & Peter Robertson of Amherst, both of my regiment were with me in Bunker Hill Battle & were wounded & knew them to behave very Courageous in that Action.” The NH State archives are available online at

  6. Frank Schmidt says:

    If someone fought at Dorchester Heights during this time, would they also be considered as fighting at Bunker Hill too? We have found records indicating my wife’s ancestor was at Dorchester Heights, but no actual mention of Bunker Hill.

  7. Brian Fargo says:

    One of my ancestors, Sergeant Moses Fargo, fought at Bunker Hill and gave a report to the Sergeant Major of Capt. Coit’s company — 4th company, in 6th regiment, under Col. Parsons of the Connecticut line. The report was given on “June 16, 1775. Morning report. Main guard 18. Barrack guard 7. Sick 9. Servants 4. Present 68. Total 106. Signed Moses Fargo. Orderly Sergeant.”

    That Passage can be found in the History of New London 1895 and I will copy two additional paragraphs as follows:

    “In June one of the six newly raised regiments in New London, under the command of Col. Parsons, was reviewed in New London. This is believed to have been the first regimental training state, east of Connecticut River. Two companies of this regiment, the fourth and fifth, were raised in New London, and of these William Coit and James Chapman — names which by their townsmen were considered synonymous with patriotism and hardy gallantry, were captains.

    These two companies marched immediately to Boston, and tool part in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Of Capt. Coit’s company, Jedediah Hide was first lieutenant, James Day second lieutenant, William Adams ensign. Of Capt. Coit’s company, the corresponding officers were Christopher Darrow, John Raymond and George Latimer. Capt. Coit, soon after the battle, entered into the navy, and was appointed, by congress, to the command of the schooner Harrison, fitted out in Boston Bay, to crusie against the enemy.”

  8. Ancestor Jeremiah CAPRON [1763-1813] is said to have served from the battle of Bunker Hill,enlisting at age 17 ,sometimes in records as CAPRIN.He remained in service throughout the War and was at Monmouth,Brandywine,
    Trenton,other?, and at Yorktown . How many soldiers managed to serve throughout the entire Rev. War?
    As my information about Jeremiah is quite limited,other would be welcome. Thank you. Charlotte Sheldon

    • Jason Fox says:

      My ancestor is also Jeremiah Capron. I have a fair bit of info on him. Instead of rambling on here in an email..if you are interested email me at [email protected]

  9. Alan Brock says:

    Original or not, the quote “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” is what springs immediately to mind whenever I hear the name Bunker (Breed’s) Hill.

  10. Dr Robert Sprague says:

    My x8 Great Grand Father William Sprague was one of the founders of Charlestown in 1629. The city was burned during the Battle of Bunker Hill. His grandson Josua Sprague lost his property in Sackville, Canada when the British fled Boston and went to Halifax. Major Joshua Sprague later served in both the Massachusetts and Rhide Island militia, including the Battle of Bennington. I had another ancestor John Cole who also fought T Bunker Hill. I am the Past President of the Michigan Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

  11. One of my great-great gransfathers, Capt. George Hoffman, fought the Britsh in the War of 1812, but I do not know where. Do you?

  12. Grace Wells says:

    My 5th great-grandfather, John Clogston, fought at the rail fence along with his brother Paul, his bro-in-law, James Harwood, and two nephews, John and Archibald Harwood. Paul Clogston was wounded at Bunker Hill and died of his wounds two days shy of a month later at White Marsh. John was from Goffstown and the Harwoods were from Dunstable, NH. James also died at White Marsh, but two years later of smallpox. Archibald had enlisted as a substitute for someone else.

  13. Daniel Symonds says:

    I have an ancestor Samuel Symonds from Hillsborough, NH who was at BunkerHill, Any information on him would be appreciated.

  14. Lauren Abrutz says:

    My fifth great-grandfather, Jonathan Robinson was at Bunker Hill. He was from Andover, MA. It’s also where my husband proposed to me- how significant since my husband is in the military! As I like to say, who knew this descendant of patriots would marry a contemporary patriot!

  15. Ken Carstens says:

    I have an ancestor, Amos Ranney, from Connecticut who also fought at Breed’s Hill, but I do not know who he fought with (Company/command?). Can anyone help me out. He also fought at White Plains, Saratoga, and a couple other major events. After he opted out, he re-enlisted as an assistant ship’s carpenter on a privateer out of Connecticut. They captured several British ships from what I understand, but apparently the captain of that ship was a real Ahab and many of the men under his comman mutinied, and yet were acquited and still received their Rev War pensions. I would like to know with whom he fought at Breeds. Thank you, Ken Carstens

  16. John Salem says:

    Samuel White (1739-c1778) from Westmoreland NH was in Capt Jacob Hinds’ company under Col James Reed’s command. Samuel was killed or mortally wounded at Bunker Hill. Family tradition says he died at Roxbury 1778. No confirmation. Any assistance in clarifying facts is greatly appreciated.

  17. Sarah Cleghorn Murray says:

    My 4th GGF Phillip Fowler (b. 6 Aug 1741 Essex County, MA) died on 17 June 1775 at Bunker Hill.

    • Sarah Cleghorn Murray says:

      Corporal in Capt. Benjamin Walker’s Company, Col. Ebenezer Bridge’s Massachusetts Regiment. One of 140 men killed at, BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL/Breed’s Hill. I understand that he was not originally recognized as among the dead because his body was not found. However, further research recognizes him as a victim and he is listed on bronze Tablet 1.
      DAR Ancestors Indices Vol 153, p 88; vol 78, p.63; vol 119, p.197; vol 120, p.165.
      Fowler 1950 states he b. Coventry, and lists Jonathan as his father.

      At least some of the Americans killed during the conflict on Breed’s Hill (commonly called Battle of Bunker Hill, nearby) were buried in Old Central Burying Ground. In 1894 a Boston subway was being built and 910 bodies were moved from this cemetery and later re-interred elsewhere with a tall monument.

  18. Noel. Bell says:

    My 6th great grandfather John Sawtell born 1743 was at Bunker Hill in a New Hamshire unit,he later owned a Taveran in Broone co. New York he die there in1811.

  19. Karen says:

    My direct relative, Allen Breed (Bread), owned the hill. When I was in US History my instructor would argue that it was the Battle of Bunker Hill and I was wrong. He tried to fail me on these questions but he was proved wrong.

  20. Julie Murray says:

    My 5th great grandfather, Peter Gordon, reportedly fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, according to his son-in-law’s biography in a Cambria County, PA history book. We think he was one of the volunteers from Pennsylvania that made the journey to help the cause of Liberty. He later joined the Continental Army in January 1777 at Fort Ligonier (town) and served in Moses Hazen’s Regiment until May 1781. Peter settled in current Indiana County, then Westmoreland County, PA. He died in Allegheny County, PA in 1845.

  21. In one day there was a reply about another descendent of ‘my’ Bunker Hill Veteran-Jeremiah-4-CAPRON,b.Norwich,New London,CT..What a surprise and we are exchanging information. I am quite sure from the first reply that this will break a previous roadblock. Hooray! C.J.Sheldon

    • Ken Carstens says:

      Might you have a list of other Connecticut soldiers and with whom they served? My 6x great grandfather, Amos Ranney, was from Connecticut and fought at Breed’s Hill too and would like to see a listing of other men with whom he served. Thanks, Ken

  22. Barb Durfee says:

    I had ancestors , the Graham brothers, where we have information that said, they were quite good at the hand to hand battle, that when they ran out of ammunition, they fought very well with rocks!

  23. James Stimson says:

    Supposedly one of my relatives was in this battle but I never got the first name of the individual. Any help will be appreciated. the last name was STIMSON

  24. Michael Yeomans says:

    My ancestor, Joshua Yeomans, was a private who helped construct the fort the night before the battle and fought at the rail fence. In the book “General Israel Putnam and the Battle of Bunker Hill: a Critique, Not a History” he is quoted as giving testimony affirming Putnam’s effective command during the battle:

    “Went to rail fence; there saw Gen. Putnam riding along the whole line and crying out, ‘Stick to your posts, men, and do your duty!’; he was greatly exposed.”

    He is buried in Norwich and I hope to get there this summer, as a kind stranger who volunteers to care for the cemetery took it upon himself to find his headstone for me last year. Incidentally, my youngest son is named Joshua Yeomans. I had no idea of his namesake’s connection to Bunker Hill when we named him.

  25. Stephen Beard says:

    My GGF5 Timothy Adams was a Captain in the militia that defended Bunker Hill

  26. Dennis Wilder says:

    My 5th great grandfather David Wilder lead a company of 50 men from Lancaster MA under the command of COL Asa Whitcomb and is believed to have been on the front lines at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Five men of the regiment were killed/eight wounded. David’s son, Jacob Wilder (age 17) was part of a different regiment at the battle under the command of Captain Haskell.

  27. russ taylor says:

    to Ken Carstens:

    Pg. 46 “The Record of Conn. Men in the military and naval service during the war of revolution, 1775-1783” by henry p. johnston. Amos Ranny (also a stephen) private, enlisted May 5, 1775. Dschg Oct 28, 1775. 2d company, second regiment, Gen. Joe Spencers. One of first of regiments raised on first call for troops by legislature April-May 1775. Recruited mainly Middlesex Co. Engaged at Bunker Hill, June 17 and with Arnold’s Quebec Expedition sept-dec-1775. Adopted as Continental Army July 1775.

    Lots easier than my guy, John Taylor, who deserted from the Britsh Army at this battle.

    Russ Taylor

  28. Jason says:

    I am a descendnt of Daniel Ellis , b. Approx 1750-1755 in the Albany , NY area. A soldier in the 1 st Regiment New York Line, he did not enlist until about 1777-1778. I have tried to find more information on or about him, but have run into road blocks.

  29. Gary Klein says:

    My 5th Greatgrandfather Pvt. Timothy Adams fought at Bunker Hill under the command of Gen. Putnam. He received a pension for his service. His son Alden Adams had a Kentucky Long Rifle that is still in the family that was from the Revolutionary War era. It could have been his father’s Timothy Adams long rifle that he used at Bunker Hill. Timothy’s wife Susannah also an Adams is related to Presidents John and John Quincy Adams. And also to Governor Samuel Adams who is another founding father. We are very proud of the part that our family had in founding our country.

  30. bob hubbard says:

    My ancestor Lazarus Hubbard fought at the battle of Bunker Hill. He had previously fought in the French Indian war. He later fought in the battle of Fort Ticonderoga. He was said to be 30 in a 1778 record but I have proven that to be false as well as other information the DAR had on him. He married Abigail Gilmore in 1764 in Woburn, Ma. and by 1767 was in Methuen, Ma. where he lived when he served several tours of duty. The DAR had him as married twice but he was only married once. They thought the second wife was Dillmore but that was erroneous info from the history of Hopkinton, N.H. He wound up likely living in Milford, N.H. where a Lazarus Hubbard died at age 89 in 1821 and where an Abigail Hubbard, widow woman, age 83, died in 1826. I cannot find where they are buried. No one has ever been able to determine Lazarus’ parents or date and place of birth, most likely due to erroneous information being passed down. I have tracked his descendants but cannot find his parents or place of burial. Can anyone help?

  31. William Farmer. Does anyone have any info on his death at Bunker Hill. ?
    Thank you. Ebenezer Sawyer was also there, and apparently threw rocks at the British once his ammo ran out.

  32. JACLYN von Bleicken says:

    Trying to follow up on the surname KUEGLER or Kugler who had three sons in the colonial militia. Any information would be helpful.

  33. George Quain says:

    My ancestor was Richard Howley born in Knocktoper, Co. Tiperrary, Ireland. Educated in Paris and emigrated to America dirictly from France. As far as I am aware he was born approx. 1740 and died at Savanagh, Georgia in 1783 he was married with one daughter and had a plantation on which rice was grown. He was a member Congress for the State of Georgia and was Govenor of that state for approx one year.

    I would appreciate if anybody out there knows anything about this man.

  34. Sylvia Morgan Auten says:

    We have some record of an ancestor George Cline (Kline) who fought with Washington. He was a Sargent in the Rev. War. I really would like to know which battles. He came from Germany and was married in Ulster County, New York to Susannah Buck, on June 8, 1770 They migrated across Penn. to Fort Henry, VA which became Wheeling, W. Va. where I was born. Thank you for any additional information as to what battles or what ship they came over on.

  35. Leonard Koplen says:

    My great-great-great grandfather fought at Bunker Hill. Interestingly enough his name was John Breed. A copy of the original testimony he gave in 1832 to qualify for a pension is available on FOLD3. He was seventeen when he joined the New Hampshire militia in April of 1775. His father Nathaniel Sr., and brothers Nathaniel Jr., and Thomas all served in the Revolution. All but one adult male in their town of Packersfield (now Nelson) New Hampshire, pledged their support for the war by signing the “Association Test”.
    In June 1776 he enlisted again for five months in General Brackets Brigade of the Massachusetts line. The brigade marched through Vermont to Ticonderoga.
    In September 1777 he responded with other volunteers under no particular officers to urgent calls to repel Burgoyne’s invasion. They marched to Saratoga, where he was in scouting parties and harassing the British.
    In June 1780, he enlisted for six months in Colonel Nichols Regiment, New Hampshire line. The company marched first to West Point New York. General Arnold was in command of West Point at the time. He was assigned to the “fat cattle guard” across the river at Crumb pond, where he joined about sixteen other men to guard and graze 600 cattle. About the time Arnold betrayed the revolution, the “fat cattle guard” was alerted by a horseman that 150 British light horsemen were approaching to capture the cattle. The guard made a hasty retreat with all the cattle to avoid capture.
    In 1828 he moved to Sandy Creek, Oswego County, New York. His brother Nathaniel, and his son Joseph and daughter Sylvia also moved to New York. He died April 29, 1846 and is buried in the Pulaski Village Cemetery, Pulaski New York.

  36. R. Lynn Higginson says:

    Do you know if Benoni Patten fought in this battle (Bunker Hill/Breed’s Hill)?

  37. Mark Holty says:

    12 McNitts, 4 sons and 8 grandsons, fought in the war of the revolution. One McNitt died at Bunker Hill. I don’t have proof of his passing on the hill.

  38. Lauren Abrutz says:

    For those looking for ancestors were specifically from MA at the battle, to learn more information, I would suggest looking at MA state records. I have my ancestor’s records through a great-grand aunt who researched him and found him at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The information was even certified by the then secretary of the commonwealth in 1918, and in 1919, my great grand aunt was accepted into DAR. Also, DAR records may provide helpful, along with town records. Note if you look at DAR records, there have been errors made in the past, so be careful with those.

    Some town records are extremely thorough, and can tell you a lot. For example, my ancestor, Jonathan Robinson was born June 25, 1753 in Andover, MA and died March 17, 1838 in Newmarket, New Hampshire. Along with family records, looking in the town of his birth within the family he was born into and the town after the war where he lived and died, provided great information.

  39. Lauren Abrutz says:

    For the commonwealth specific people, use Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War. There are many volumes, which appear to be in alphabetical order

  40. Fred Murphy says:

    My 4Xgreat-grandfather was Joseph Coolidge of Watertown, who was killed at Menotomy (Arlington) on April 19 in the retreat of the British from Lexington and Concord. On June 16 his two sons, Joshua, not yet 16, and Joseph, 14, drove the family’s yoke of oxen from Watertown to Charlestown and worked all night helping to build fortifications at Breeds Hill. In the morning they were sent home to await a possible recall. The battle occurred while they were on their way and they knew nothing about it until it was all over. (From the Crawford Coolidge genealogy.)

  41. judith cook says:

    my 5x g grandfather major thomas finson also fought on bunker hill. he died in auburn ,me and is buried near my great grandprents and my mother. i have seen his tomestone. thank you for the articale on the revloution. judith cook

  42. mary joan Amesbury/Amsbury says:

    My husband had a ancester that fought there Amesbury/ there a

    list of who fought.I doubt that Jeremiah was his name

  43. Ben Stetson says:

    My 6th great grandfather fought in the Revolution in Peter Roth’s 4th company 3rd Battalion Northampton Pa Militia. But I’m not sure what battles they fought in

  44. Peggy Maier says:

    My 5th & 6th Great Grandfathers fought in the battle of Bunker/Breed’s Hill.
    Nicholas Sprake & Benjamin Sprake.

  45. Ron Prouty says:

    My G4 great grandfather, Elijah Prouty of Shutesbury, Massachusetts, was a private in Capt.Dickinson’s Company, Col. Ruggles Woodbridge’s Regiment which fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He went on to fight in the Ticonderoga campaign, Saratoga and Monmouth Courthouse, serving till the end of the war, and was discharged as a Sergeant. His patriotism and fortitude inspire me.
    Ron Prouty

  46. mnew1913 says:

    My dad would make us answer history and math questions to earn our weekly allowance. One of his favorite ‘trick’ questions was “Where was the battle of Bunker Hill fought?” Eventually I learned to answer correctly and earned my allowance.

  47. Paul Morceau says:

    Photos of the Memorial tablets listing those killed at Bunker Hill are posted on the face book page for my Legion post in Charlestown.

  48. Pat says:

    My ancestors were the Gansons.
    John Ganson, is listed in a historic record book as a Captain, (but during Bunker Hill, I believe he was a lower rank), shows Wounded in his wrist/arm, and a witness named Stacy attest that Gansons gun was lost. Also the Ganson Settlement became known as LeRoy NY. In addition to John Ganson there was also Joseph, Benjamin and Nathan Ganson, but not sure who was where, someone was in Mass. Would like to know how many of them were at Bunker Hill, where they would have fought. Also, other ancestors were Pratt, & Masters. Thx.

  49. Ken Stiles says:

    My ancestor, Josiah Stiles, fought at Bunker Hill as part of Col. Benjamin Ruggles Regiment (25th), a successor to Ruggles’ 1st Hampshire County Militia Regiment. Josiah was from Ervinshire, Hampshire County (now Wendell, Franklin County). Any information on the settlement of Ervingshire/Wendell, Josiah Stiles, Captain John King or Ruggles Regiment would be greatly appreciated.

  50. Bonnie M. Williams says:

    My ancestor, Hazard Wilcox, fought with the British and was considered a Tory Spy. I have located 2 short newspaper accounts about him, one being his obituary. However, I can never find out anything relative to the Revolutionary War battles or names of people who fought in the War who were not considered Americans. Because others have located petitions to the King in order to obtain property in Canada that was promised to the “Loyalists,” I do believe he did fight for the King.
    Does anyone know where these records might be kept? I am trying to determine if the family history would document accurately if he was the first casualty of the war, It appears that he was mortally wounded in February 1779, but did not die until early 1780.

    • Ken Carstens says:

      British records …. try the PRO in England…(Provincial Records Office), you’ll find them on line. Good luck, Dr. Ken Carstens, archaeologist/historian

  51. Linda Hall Little says:

    I have two ancestors who fought at Bunker Hill – here is a blog about Moses Pinder

  52. Robert Kimball says:

    My 3d great-grandfather, Aquilla Kimball, (1755-1826) was in Cpt. Nathaniel Gage’s company, Frye’s Regiment from Bradford MA. Frye’s Regiment was temporarily under Lt. Col. James Brickett as they began building a redoubt on top of Breed’s hill, Frye joined them the next day, and the regiment took heavy casualties, according to “A County In Revolution” by R.N. Tagney. However, somewhere I recall reading that Gage’s company might have been left to guard the Charlestown neck, but I have no idea how to find out for sure. Any suggestions?

  53. L. Norman says:

    Why is there not a LIST of New England troops????????

  54. Rosalind Ellington(973)6079178 call says:

    I was looking for my grand uncle Albert Ellington he served 1944 to 1945

  55. Rosalind Ellington(973)6079178 call says:

    East Orange New Jersey is where he was from