J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

Follow by Email


Friday, June 16, 2017

Secrets of Gen. Clinton’s Map of Bunker Hill

Here’s an intriguing document from the maps collection at the Library of Congress.

It’s Gen. Henry Clinton’s hand-drawn map of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

One eye-catching detail is that Clinton sketched a small fortification on top of Bunker’s Hill, at the left of this image. (The redoubt on Breed’s Hill is at the center, as usual.)

There are even lines indicating that one of the warships in the Charles River fired at that site.

On the night of 19 Apr 1775, British troops had dug in a little on Bunker’s Hill to protect the soldiers who had exhausted themselves marching out to Lexington and Concord and back. They abandoned that area by the next morning. After retaking the Charlestown peninsula in June, the British built a much larger, stronger fortification on that site.

But evidently on 17 June, Clinton perceived the provincials as having fortified themselves there as well. Maybe New England men were taking advantage of what the British had left from April. We know there was a great deal of reluctance to leave that high ground and go down to the redoubt and fence where a man could get killed.

Also interesting is that Clinton drew this map on the back of a sheet printed with the lyrics of two drinking songs, “John Barleycorn Is Dead” and “O Good Ale, Thou Art My Darling,” and an engraved line of music.

No comments: