The Second Battle of Bunker's Hill.
We use this caption advisedly, as the hill was then known as Bunker's
. The result was not accomplished without resistance, there was considerable loss of life, as well as destruction of property occupied by the enemy, and some prisoners with their arms taken.
A study of a map of the locality at that period would show the area now covered by railroad tracks, freight houses etc., to have been the Charlestown Mill Pond
A later map would show the Tufts' Mill Pond
, where is now the Charlestown Playground
and the isthmus known as the ‘Neck,’ very narrow.
At that time Samuel and Ebenezer Hall formerly of Medford
were publishing the ‘New England
Chronicle,’ (‘Printers’ they styled themselves) at Stoughton Hall, one of the Harvard College buildings in Cambridge
To their paper of Thursday, January 11, 1776, we refer the readers of the Register for an interesting account of this affair:—
The Cobble Hill
referred to was the eminence on which was for many years the McLean Asylum
, and the mill dam afforded the Continentals a short route into the beleaguered town.
It also afforded a means of escape for at least one British deserter, as seen in the issue of January, 25:—
‘Since our last we have had several deserters from the enemy,— one of them stationed at Charlestown Mills, pitched his companion over the dam, and then run for Cobble Hill.’
We trust that the other sentinel did not find a watery grave, but ‘all's fair in love and war.’
Charlestown at the time of the ever memorable battle was compactly built between Breed's Hill
, where the monument now stands, and Charles River
, with a comparatively small number of houses northward along the road now called Main street. The buildings destroyed at this time were probably near the site of the Edes' mansion, now noted as the birthplace of Prof. Morse
of telegraph fame.
Between foes and friends, the old town named for King Charles who granted the charter to Matthew Cradock
's Company, was well nigh obliterated.
Its territory once entirely surrounded that of Medford
, and embraced that of Burlington
and parts of Arlington
, and Malden
Its corporate existence became finally absorbed in that of Boston
The ‘three or four houses’ that Major Knowlton
left could have afforded but little shelter to the British
troops whom editor or ‘printer’ Hall
styled ‘ministerial butchers.’
The result of the action was that the lines were closer drawn against the enemy in Charlestown
We will refer again to Mr. Hall
's paper:— [p. 45]
‘We hear that the enemy, the evening on which troops burnt the houses at Charlestown, were entertaining themselves at the exhibition of a Play, which they called the Blockade of Boston; in the midst of which a person appeared before the audience, and with great earnestness declared that the Yankees were attacking Bunker's Hill.
The deluded wretches at first, took this to be merely farcial, and intended as a part of their diversion.
But soon convinced that the actor meant to represent a solemn reality, the whole assembly left the house in confusion, and scampered off with great precipitation.’
This play was written by General John Burgoyne
He had presented one in London
previously, possibly with more success than attended the one this side the sea. In this, one of the characters was costumed as a ‘Yankee Sergeant
’ and the performance was much enjoyed by the British
officers and the Tory ladies who were in attendance.
It was designed to impress the soldiery with contempt for the ‘Yankees’ and was succeeding finely when the ‘Sergeant
’ gave the alarm ‘with great earnestness.’
Soon the order ‘officers, to your posts’ awakened everybody to the situation.
In the wild scramble that ensued the fiddles of the orchestra were broken, seats overturned, and the much alarmed ladies were left to find their way home from Faneuil Hall.
Their gallant escorts were unceremoniously called to other duties.
It was reported that after the evacuation of Boston
the tables were turned and a play called the ‘Blockheads’ (evidently parodied) or the ‘Affrighted Officers’ was produced, in which the names of Lord Percy, Burgoyne
and prominent Loyalists were thinly disguised.
Some years ago we heard of a pamphlet that undertook to prove that there never was a Battle of Bunker Hill
, which seems a singular effort.
It was not on account of the mistake in the name of the hill, but in discredit of the fact.
If the fact of this second battle, in which eighteen persons lost their lives and six prisoners were taken, is discredited by our readers, we refer them to the above detailed account published at the time by a son of old Medford
, one of Massachusetts
' early journalists.