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[92] prepared for another encounter. It was one of the wisest and best deeds of his life. But for that, the British might in the hour of their triumph have pursued the frightened and flying host, and made Somerville, Cambridge, and other towns their prey; but with such an obstacle in their path, they did not choose to undertake the venture. Well said Mr. Guild, ‘Here, after the Pyrrhic victory of the English at Bunker Hill, came the men who invited the further attack that never came’; and said Governor Bates, ‘The red-coated soldiers flung their defiance from yonder Bunker Hill.’ It was all they could do. What might possibly have been the disastrous consequences, had not Putnam occupied Prospect Hill as he did, is intimated in words already quoted from Mayor Glines. At any rate, the service is seen to have been one of immense importance, and it was one entirely of the general's own choosing. It was at a moment of fearful excitement and disorder, when neither General Ward nor any other authority could be consulted, and when the destinies of an empire seemed to tremble in the balance. In that dread crisis Putnam acted solely on his own responsibility. Says Dr. Increase N. Tarbox in his remarkable Life of Israel Putnam (1876): ‘We have his own express statement on this point, made to the Committee of Safety not long after, at a time when he had the burdensome grievance on his mind. He says, “Pray, did I not take possession of Prospect Hill the very night after the fight on Bunker Hill, without having any orders from any person? And was not I the only general officer that tarried there?” ’ And this action by General Putnam was not less wise and of his own accord than it was courageous and full of his proverbial grit. He was not one to fly from the field in the hour of danger with the scared and discouraged officers and shattered regiments, and hasten to Cambridge to report with Prescott that the day was lost. He chose to take his post near the Neck, and dispute the passage of the victors and face the consequences. Who would have done it if he had not?

And it all goes to show that his was the supreme command at Bunker Hill, as it was on Prospect Hill. Bancroft, who was a warm friend and partisan of Prescott, admits that the General

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