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Less the story of a battle, more a study of its backgrounds and its results on the American Revolution and on America, this is a gratifying addition to the literature on Bunker Hill, by the author of The Historic Places, etc. The story, often distorted and overdramatized is a familiar one; the actual facts are less romantic. In April, 1755, after Lexington and Concord, the Colonists besieged General Gage and his inadequate force in Boston. Gage, who liked the Americans, was reluctant to fight them, but tension increased with the arrival in May of British reenforcements from England and with the influx of thousands of armed Colonists into Cambridge, to the distress of that peaceful village. Learning that the British meant to seize the American position on Dorchester Heights, on the night of June 16-17 the Americans planned to fortify Bunker Hill, but by error in the darkness fortified the lower Breed's Hill instead. Even then the British, who discovered this move before dawn, postponed attack until three the next afternoon, when they burned Charlestown and sent the flower of the British army in full campaign dress on the famous ""slow walk"" up the hill, with appalling casualties from the murderous rifle fire of the Colonists. Both sides fought with incredible bravery, but the British reluctance to believe the Americans would stand up to professionals and fight and the Americans' lack of a single command ended in disorganization with the Colonists retreating before a final, roaring assault. ""A dear bought victory"" said General Clinton. ""Another such would have ruined us"". Ruin them it did: Bunker Hill crystallized America into a nation and forced the British into full fledged war which ended at Yorktown. Carefully annotated, thoroughly readable, this is a well-written and unbiased account of harassed men, their mistakes and their victories. Bracket this with Fleming's Now We Are Enemies (St Martin's Press-1960- see p. 575) to round the picture.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1962
Publisher: Doubleday