"Don't Shoot Until You See
the Whites of Their Eyes!" was the order given JUNE 17, 1775, by Colonel
William Prescott to troops on Breed's Hill, adjacent Bunker Hill,
guarding the north entrance to Boston Harbor.
When a stray musket ball from a British gun killed a young American soldier, some cowardly men fled the field.
stop the confusion, Colonel Prescott rallied his men by climbing on the
wall of the redoubt, standing upright and walking back and forth as if
no enemy was present.
British General Gage looked at Prescott
through a telescope and asked a local loyalist if Prescott actually had
enough to courage fight.
It was replied: "Prescott is an old soldier, he will fight for as long as a drop of blood is in his veins."
for the Americans, the British brought the wrong size cannon balls, so
they were not able to soften the resistance as they had hoped.
This resulted in General Howe having to order 2,300 British soldiers, with bayonets fixed, to march up the hill.
Twice the Americans repelled them, but the third time they ran out of gunpowder.
Over 1,000 British were killed in this first major action of the Revolutionary War.
Nearly 500 American Continental soldiers were killed, including Dr. Joseph Warren.
Farnsworth, a corporal in the Massachusetts Militia, made this entry
in his diary immediately after the Battle of Bunker Hill, JUNE 17,
"We within the entrenchment...having fired away all
ammunition and having no reinforcements...were overpowered by numbers
and obliged to leave....I did not leave the entrenchment until the enemy
got in. I then retreated ten or fifteen rods.
Then I received a
wound in my right arm, the ball going through a little below my elbow,
breaking the little shellbone. Another ball struck my back, taking a
piece of skin about as big as a penny. But I got to Cambridge that
Oh the goodness of God in preserving my life, although
they fell on my right and on my left! O may this act of deliverance of
thine, O God, lead me never to distrust thee; but may I ever trust in
thee and put confidence in no arm of flesh!"
same day, 300 miles away in Philadelphia, the Continental Congress
drafted George Washington's commission as commander-in-chief, for which
he refused a salary.
Washington wrote to his wife, Martha:
has been determined in Congress, that the whole army raised for the
defense of the American Cause shall be put under my care, and that it is
necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take...command...
I shall rely therefore, confidently, on that Providence which has heretofore preserved, and been bountiful to me."
"I...got Colonel Pendleton to Draft a Will...the Provision made for you, in case of my death, will, I hope, be agreeable."
than a month after the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Continental Congress
proclaimed a Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, as John
Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, July 12, 1775:
appointed a Continental fast. Millions will be upon their knees at once
before their great Creator, imploring His forgiveness and blessing; His
smiles on American Council and arms."
Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull wrote to General Washington, July 13, 1775:
Honorable Congress have proclaimed a Fast to be observed by the
inhabitants of all the English Colonies on this continent, to stand
before the Lord in one day, with public humiliation, fasting, and
prayer, to deplore our many sins, to offer up our joint supplications to
God, for forgiveness, and for his merciful interposition for us in this
day of unnatural darkness and distress.
They have, with one
united voice, appointed you to the high station you possess. The Supreme
Director of all events hath caused a wonderful union of hearts and
counsels to subsist among us.
Now therefore, be strong and very courageous.
the God of the armies of Israel shower down the blessings of his Divine
Providence on you, give you wisdom and fortitude, cover your head in
the day of battle and danger, add success, convince our enemies of their
mistaken measures, and that all their attempts to deprive these
Colonies of their inestimable constitutional rights and liberties are
injurious and vain."
On July 19, 1775, the Journals of the Continental Congress recorded:
That the Congress meet here tomorrow morning, at half after 9 o'clock,
in order to attend divine service at Mr. Duche's Church; and that in the
afternoon they meet here to go from this place and attend divine
service at Doctor Allison's church."
On July 20, 1775, General Washington issued the order:
General orders this day to be religiously observed by the Forces under
his Command, exactly in manner directed by the Continental Congress.
is therefore strictly enjoined on all Officers and Soldiers to attend
Divine Service; And it is expected that all those who go to worship do
take their Arms, Ammunition and Accoutrements, and are prepared for
immediate action, if called upon."