who now had assumed the supreme command, by right of superior rank, and had taken his post near the eastern base or lower declivities of Bunker Hill, where he could best survey the scene and order the action of the day; riding, as he did, this way and that along the lines to encourage and strengthen his soldiers in the hour of conflict; or hastening to the rear in the lull of battle to hurry on the expected and needed, but tardy, reinforcements. Enraged at their first discomfiture, these fine old veterans of the British army, notwithstanding their heavy loss, dashed themselves once more against the Yankee farmers and craftsmen at the fence where the slaughter of the battle was most terrible, and whence they were driven back a second time with greater loss than before, ‘the dead lying on the ground as thick as sheep in a fold.’ Stung to madness by such successive defeats, the grenadiers and light infantry of the foe rallied for another assault, and, turning a little to the left with fresh accessions, made a desperate rush for the redoubt, and soon captured it, after a stout and heroic resistance by Prescott and his garrison, many of the latter being killed by the victors, while the rest of them, with the commanding colonel himself, made their escape and went their way to Cambridge. Meanwhile the heroes at the fence, exhausted from fighting, suffering from heat, and decimated in numbers, seeing that the fort was in possession of the enemy, and that they themselves were in danger of being flanked and captured, began to retreat and to fall into disorder and confusion. Putnam was now at the height of his tremendous power and energy. With voice like thunder, and with almost superhuman action, he commanded and entreated his compatriots,—some say even with oaths,—to make one stand more for battle and victory; but all in vain. They were too much weakened and demoralized for the attempt, so that not their commander's prodigious exertion itself availed to bring order out of chaos and make them renew the strife; and then it was that he saw that the effort was hopeless, and, gathering what of the army was left, and joining certain fresh arrivals to it, he marched the whole over the Neck to Prospect Hill, there to intrench in full sight of the foe, and like a lion at bay to be
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Literary men and women of Somerville .
Charlestown School in the 17th century.
Historical Sketch of the old Middlesex Canal .
The Prospect Hill Park Celebration.
Israel Putnam and Prospect Hill .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.