Today in 1775: “…the decisive Day is come on which the fate of America depends…”

17 Jun

Today in 1775, British General William Howe lands troops on the Charlestown Penninsula and marches them up Breed’s Hill, just below Bunker Hill and fortified by the American militia, and what becomes known as the Battle of Bunker Hill begins. Though the Americans were outnumbered and eventually forced to retreat, the the British casualties were far, FAR higher than the American losses.

Abigail Adams wrote the following to her husband on June 18, 1775:

“The Day; perhaps the decisive Day is come on which the fate of America depends. my bursting Heart must find vent at my pen. I have just heard that our dear Friend Dr. Warren is no more but fell gloriously fighting for his Country-saying better to die honourably in the field than ignominiously hang upon the Gallows. great is our Loss. He has distinguished himself in every engagement, by his courage and fortitude, by animating the Soldiers & leading them on by his own example — a particular account of these dreadful, but I hope Glorious Days will be transmitted you, no doubt in the exactest manner.

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong — but the God of Israel is he that giveth strength & power unto his people. Trust in him at all times ye people pour out your hearts before him. God is a refuge for us. –Charlstown is laid in ashes. The Battle began upon our intrenchments upon Bunkers Hill, a Saturday morning about 3 oclock & has not ceased yet & tis now 3 o’clock Sabbeth afternoon…” 

Dr. Joseph Warren, friend of the Adams’, was the influential leader of the cause of liberty in Boston. In fact, it was Warren who sent Paul Revere on his infamous Midnight Ride to warn of the British approach to Lexington and Concord. His death was a major blow to the Americans. You can read more about Warren here.

Of personal note, one of my Patriot ancestors, Reuben Woolworth, was there. He was 22 at the time.

Reuben was one of twelve* brothers born to Timothy and Mercy Woolworth of Suffield, Connecticut. He was one of five Woolworth children to serve in the Revolutionary War; he also was at the Battle of Lexington and the Siege of New York.

*And that’s just the boys, yall. The Woolworths had two daughters, Mercy and Lucy. That’s fourteen kids. Phew.

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