The Whites of Their Eyes: Bunker Hill, the First American Army, and the Emergence of George Washington
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Drawingupon new research and scholarship, historian Paul Lockhart, author of thecritically acclaimed Revolutionary War biography The Drillmaster of ValleyForge, offers a penetrating reassessment of the first major engagement ofthe American Revolution. In the tradition of David McCullough’s 1776,Lockhart illuminates the Battle of Bunker Hill as a crucial event in thecreation of an American identity, dexterously interweaving the story of thispivotal pitched battle with two other momentous narratives: the creation ofAmerica’s first army, and the rise of the man who led it, George Washington.
their front until it was too late. The 5th and the 52nd literally stumbled right into the backs of the frustrated grenadiers as the American musket balls whizzed about them. Neat lines of infantry collided with disorganized clumps of men, and any semblance of organization came undone in an instant. The rebels kept pouring heavy fire into the packed and confused muddle while Redcoat officers from all three battalions shouted and waved their swords, vainly endeavoring to extricate their men from
was similar to that of his later friend George Washington: his battle record was not especially distinguished, but it gave him invaluable preparation for high command. He commanded the vanguard when General Edward Braddock led his ill-fated expedition into the Ohio country in the summer of 1755, an expedition that met with sheer disaster when it was ambushed at the Forks of the Monongahela by French and Indian forces. Gage was wounded, and his regiment severely bloodied; worse yet, unfounded
Let our object be, our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country. And, by the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vast and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of Wisdom, of Peace, and of Liberty, upon which the world may gaze with admiration forever!”3 The thousands sitting in the amphitheater leapt to their feet, as a massive throaty roar of approval rose from the crowd. The procession re-formed, not so solemn this time, and walked a short distance
sent from Britain to Boston in the spring of 1775, Howe was a skilled and innovative commander. But his heart was not in the war, and he would take much of the blame—unfairly, as it turned out—for the high British casualties at Bunker Hill. (EMMET COLLECTION, MIRIAM AND IRA D. WALLACH DIVISION OF ART, PRINTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS, THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY, ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS) Sir Henry Clinton. Contentious, shy, and difficult, Clinton was the most learned of the three newly sent
on June 12, word of an imminent British offensive had already filtered back through rebel spies to the Hastings House. Of this, the members of the Committee of Safety were absolutely certain: “Whereas, it is daily expected,” they noted in their journal for June 13, “that General Gage will attack our army now in the vicinity of Boston, in order to penetrate into the country, it is of the utmost importance that said army be . . . prepared for action as soon as possible.” The lunge might be aimed at