It starts with the events that led to the battles of Lexington and Concord, then to the Battle of Bunker Hill and finally to the siege of Boston that took place afterwards. It follows the work of Joseph Warren, a thirty-three year old doctor, who led the beginning of the revolution as John and Samuel Adams and John Hancock were in Philadelphia with the First Continental Congress during this crisis.
The author details the actions and thoughts of several of the key players on both sides of the conflict. His observations on the events that took place are insightful and well thought out.
Philbrick chronicles how the Americans were fortunate to have two slow moving generals (Gage and Howe) in charge of maintaining the peace. He also addresses the difference in the way that the Americans fought during the series of skirmishes and outright battles during this time period. They did not fight the traditional European style, but the quasi-guerilla tactics that they learned during the French and Indian War. This greatly reduced their dead and wounded while significantly increasing it for the British and their mercenaries.
Of additional interest is the fact that the Battle of Bunker Hill was not fought on Bunker Hill, but actually on Breed’s Hill due to William Prescott not following orders and moving too far forward in establishing a line to meet the British. This led to increased casualties for the Americans and almost caused them to be defeated as they were exposed to a flank assault and the cannons of the British on their ships. It is truly amazing that the Americans were successful as they ran out of ammunition and continued to fight by using their guns as clubs and throwing rocks.
I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in American history and particularly the Revolutionary War. You will not be disappointed by this book.
- Book Review: Bunker Hill, by Nathaniel Philbrick (historynet.com)
- BookTV: Bunker Hill, Bolivar & Gettysburg (c-span.org)
- Nathaniel Philbrick’s ‘Bunker Hill:’ the battle for independence begins (blogs.seattletimes.com)