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Bunker Hill Monument and Museum June 2, 2010

Posted by flashbuzzer in History.
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I recently visited the Bunker Hill Monument and the Bunker Hill Museum in Charlestown. The monument and the museum commemorate the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775.

Here are five nuggets that I gleaned from my time at the museum.

1. The value of intelligence and information in waging war simply cannot be underestimated. In this case, patriot spies learned that the British were planning on moving troops and cannon to Dorchester Heights in an attempt to control Boston Harbor. The colonial forces acted on this information and pre-emptively fortified Breed’s Hill, forcing the British to engage them there. This set in motion the chain of events that eventually drove the British out of Boston in March 1776.

2. Charlestown residents actively resisted the British “occupiers” during the colonial period. They played a key role in the removal and humiliation of their royal governor, Edmund Andros in 1689. They also reacted angrily to the Stamp Act of 1765 by staging a small “Tea Party” before the most famous version of this action in 1773.

3. Freemasons played a role in the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument. Joseph Warren, who happened to be a Freemason, fought bravely in the struggle on Breed’s Hill and died instantly after being shot in the head. To honor Warren, the King Solomon’s Lodge of Masons raised enough money to purchase the plot of land where he supposedly died and erect a temporary wooden monument; this was later replaced by the concrete obelisk that still stands today.

4. The colonial ranks at Breed’s Hill included several soldiers of African and Native American descent. In particular, the black soldiers included both freemen and slaves; some of these slaves hoped to earn their freedom through military service. One black soldier, Salem Poor, fought so valiantly in the engagement that several officers, including Colonel William Prescott, wrote a letter to the General Court of Massachusetts commending him for his bravery and valor on the battlefield.

5. The other twelve colonies joined Massachusetts in resisting the British even before the engagements at Lexington and Concord. For example, Rhode Island patriots attacked and burned the HMS Gaspee in 1773. Also, Maryland colonists held several “tea parties” after the most famous version occurred in 1773. It should be noted that in early May 1775, Georgia colonists finally heard about the events at Lexington and Concord; they responded by attacking a British arsenal in Savannah and seizing a good deal of powder and ammunition.

The museum offered free admission, so I was amazed at the treasure trove of information that I acquired during my visit. I enjoyed viewing a beautiful cyclorama that helped me to picture the battlefield during the third British assault on the colonial positions. I also enjoyed seeing various artifacts from the battlefield, including a British drum, some swords and even some cannonballs.

In terms of minor quibbles, some of the artifacts that should have been on display were missing.

Overall I enjoyed my short stay at the museum; it was also good to climb the 294 steps to the top of the monument and enjoy the view of Boston’s North End.

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