Battle of Bunker's Hill Field Study

Map of Boston in the Vicinity of Bunker Hill

Detailed Terrain Integrity

Very Poor: land fill of the waterways and leveling of the hills themselves increased the usable land area of the Charlestown Peninsula. Homes and businesses sprang up, and the area is now a heavily trafficked section of Boston. On the site of the redoubt, there stands a monument and a National Park Service lodge. The NPS lodge contains very impressive and informative diorama displays of the battle, from a large table top view of the entire siege, to smaller views of individual actions.

Walking Tours

  • Position 1: Hancock Tower
    • Activity: The observation level of the John Hancock Tower offers a good view of all of Boston for miles around. The Bunker Hill Monument is plainly visible to the north. The Observatory presents a 15 minute narrated documentary on Boston's experiences during the Revolutionary War. A circular diorama approximately 5 meters in diameter is used during the narration. The Battle of Bunker Hill is enacted very effectively, using colored lights to show the movement of forces during the engagement.
      The Hancock Tower is also close to Boston Common, where the Freedom Trail begins.
    • Context: Explains the events leading up to, and those following, the battle. Also, the observatory allows a view of how the control of Bunker's and Breed's Hills posed a threat or an extra level of security to Boston, depending on who controled them.
    • Time: approximately 45 minutes.
    • Logistics: Cost: Adults $3.75; Children 5 - 17 and Seniors $2.75. Discounted admission for AAA, University students $3.25 Active military and Children under age 5 are free. Driving to the Hancock Tower is easiest by the Massachusestts Turnpike, US90. Exit at Prudential Center. Parking is challenging. If coming by auto, park either on the street, in a lot (probably the best bet) or at Copley Place. It will be expensive to park. If coming by bus, or seeking to avoid the expense of parking in Boston, park at a T station and take the train. The T, short for Metropolitan Boston Transit Agency, MBTA, can be the fastest, easiest way into the city.
      Depending on the direction from which you approach the city, you may take different train routes. Click on the MBTA link to obtain further information and maps. Dining in the area is plentiful. Anything from burgers to seafood, in any price range. 
  • Position 2: The Freedom Trail
    • Activity: The Freedom Trail is the best way to tour Boston's 18th and 19th century historic sites. The Trail begins at the Boston Common and ends at the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown. Along most of the route a red line on the sidewalk shows the way; in some places the trail is marked in red brick or granite paving stones.
    • Context: Details the times and events of colonial Boston on before and during the Revolution. The Walk traverses the center of Boston and ends at the Bunker Hill Monument, passing every site detailed in this Staff Ride.
    • Time: Allow 4 - 6 hours to walk the 4 km and visit the 16 sites.
    • Logistics: Free and available year round. Sites include Old South Meeting House, Old Corner Bookstore, Boston Massacre Site, Fanueil Hall, Paul Revere House, Old North Church, Copp's Hill, Charlestown Navy Yard and the Bunker Hill Monument.
      The Park Service offers a 1.5-mile walking tour of the Freedom Trail from the National Park Visitors Information Center, to the Old South Meeting House and finally to the Old North Church. From the end of April till Memorial Day, tours are offered twice daily week-days abd four times daily weekends. After Memorial day, tours are offered daily on the hour.

      National Visitors Information Center
      15 State Street
      8-5 Mon-Fri, 9-5 Weekends
      +1-617-242-5642

  • Position 3: Copps Hill
    • Activity: The artillery position at Copp's Hill, and the cemetary behind it, have been preserved as a historical landmark.
    • Context: Close to the Bunker Hill Monument, the fortified position at Copp's Hill is the position from which GEN Burgoyne fired his cannon in support of the ground assault against the American fortifications on Breed's Hill. It is interesting to note that if the fortification had been constructed on Bunker's Hill, as directed by the Massachusetts Congress, the redoubt would have been out of range of the Copp's Hill batteries. The artillery was not very effective, scoring little damage on the redoubt, and inflicting only minimal casualties. Ideally, the artillery would have served to pound the walls of the fort, opening a breach, and covering the advance of the British Light Infantry by keeping the Americans pinned under cover.
    • Time: Approximately 30 minutes.
    • Logistics: Free and open year round, there are no facilities or displays at Copp's Hill. Parking is virtually non-existent; taking the MBTA or walking is recommended.  
  • Position 4: Charlestown Naval Shipyards / Bunker Hill Pavilion
    • Activity: The Charlestown Naval Shipyards stand on the spot where the British debarked their transports for the assaults on the Breed's Hill redoubt. The Bunker Hill Pavilion is a historic museum that opens for the season 01APR96.
    • Context: On the spot where Moulton's Point once stood, the Charlestown Naval Shipyards stand where the British landed to assault the redoubt. They picked this spot because much of the rest of the eastern shoreline of the Charlestown Peninsula were swampy mud flats, unsuitable for the landing of small boats. The Americans were very familiar with the terrain and understood that an assault would likely start along this section of the oceanfront.
    • Time: 15 minutes to an hour.
    • Logistics: There is a National Park Services facility at the Shipyards, so maps and tour guide books are available. There are few nearby restaurants in this area. It is a mostly residential area, with an expressway running through it. The Freedom Trail maneuvers under the expressway and continues north. A free shuttle bus runs the fifteen minute drive between the Shipyards and a parking garage next to Massachusetts General Hospital. The area of the Shipyards and Pavilion can get quite congested with traffic during the summer, so remote parking, or walking, may be preferred. Parking validation is provided by the Park Service for parking in the lot next to the hospital. Bus parking can be accommodated outside the park gates if arrangements are made beforehand. Click here to contact the National Park Service for further information.
  • Position 5: Bunker Hill Monument
    A brief history of the monument
    • Context: The monument marks the actual location of the American fortifications and provides battlefield displays and historical memorabilia. For a birds-eye view, access to the monument itself allows visitors to climb the stairs to the top of the monument.
    • Teaching Points: Key teaching points are identified for each event listed below in terms of the 9 Principles of War and Military Aspects of Terrain (O.C.O.K.A.).
      • British Objectives
        Map of initial deployments
        Key Terrain
        Avenues of Approach
        Objective
        Mass
        Economy of Force
        Security
        Surprise
      • Preparations of Americans
        Obstacles
        Cover
        Observation
        Key Terrain
        Avenues of Approach
        Objective
        Unity of Command
        Simplicity
        Surprise
      • First Assault at Rail Fence
        Map of first assault
        Observation
        Avenues of Approach
        Cover
        Maneuver
        Mass
        Unity
        Objective
      • Second Assault at Fleches
        Map of second assault
        Avenues of Approach
        Cover
        Observation
        Maneuver
        Mass
        Unity
        Offensive
      • Third Asssault
        Map of final assault
        Observation
        Cover
        Obstacles
        Key Terrain
        Avenues of Approach
        Maneuver
        Mass
        Unity
        Objective
      • Orderly Withdrawal
        Observation
        Unity of Command
        Security
        Simplicity
    • Time: 2-4 hours
    • Logistics: Tours and lectures can be arranged ahead of time. Click here to contact the National Park Service for further information. As this is a residential neighborhood, parking is scarce, so walking is the easiest way to get to the monument.

Battle of Bunker's Hill Staff Ride

 
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