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Eyewitness Account of the Battle of Bunker Hill from a Loyalist Perspective
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This Action has shown the Bravery of the King’s Troops, who under every Disadvantage, gained a compleat Victory.... But they fought for their King, their Laws and Constitution.

Nine days after the British drove the Americans from the heights above Boston, Loyalist printer John Howe issued this broadside/handbill. Although the account of the battle is quite accurate, it inflates the number of Patriot troops and distorts the number of casualties. Although it claims the British troops were outnumbered three to one, other estimates suggest that approximately 2,400 Patriots faced 3,000 British troops. The Americans suffered approximately 450 casualties, including 140 dead, while the British lost 1,054 killed and wounded, a casualty rate of about 45 percent. The casualty rate among British officers was particularly high. This broadside’s emphasis on the courage of the British forces makes it an unusual account of the battle and an interesting piece of British propaganda.

[BUNKER HILL]. Loyalist Account of the Battle of Bunker Hill Broadside. June 26, 1775, Boston. Boston: John Howe, 1775. 1 p., 8¾ x 14 in.

Inventory #26495       Price: $12,500

Complete Transcript

                                                                        BOSTON, 26th of June, 1775.

THIS Town was alarmed on the 17th Instant at break of Day, by a Firing from the Lively Ship of War; and a Report was immediately spread that the Rebels had broke Ground, and were raising a Battery on the Heights of the Peninsula of Charlestown, against the Town of Boston. They were plainly seen, and in a few Hours a Battery of Six Guns, played upon their Works. Preparations were instantly made for the landing a Body of Men; and some Companies of Grenadiers and Light Infantry, with some Battalions and Field Artillery; amounting in the whole to about 2000 Men, under the Command of Major General HOWE, and Brigadier General PIGOT, were embarked with great Expedition, and landed on the Peninsula without Opposition; under Cover of some Ships of War, and armed Vessels.

            The Troops formed as soon as landed: The Rebels upon the Heights, were perceived to be in great Force, and strongly posted. A Redoubt thrown up on the 16th at Night, with other works full of Men, defended with Cannon, and a large Body posted in the Houses of Charlestown, covered their Right; and their Left was covered by a Breastwork, Part of it Cannon Proof, which reached from the Left of the Redoubt to the Mystick River.

            Besides the Appearance of the Rebels Strength, large Columns were seen pouring in to their Assistance; but the King’s Troops advanced; the Attack began by Cannonade, and notwithstanding various Impediments of Fences, Walls, &c. and the heavy Fire they were exposed to, from the vast Numbers of Rebels, and their Left galled from the Houses of Charlestown, the Troops made their Way to the Redoubt, mounted the Works, and carried it. The Rebels were forced from other strong Holds, and pursued ’till they were drove clear of the Peninsula, leaving Five Pieces of Cannon behind them. Charlestown was set on Fire during the Engagement, and most Part of it consumed. The Loss they sustained, must have been considerable, from the vast Numbers they were seen to carry off during the Action, exclusive of what they suffered from the shipping. About a Hundred were buried the Day after, and Thirty found wounded on the Field, some of which are since Dead. About 170 of the King's Troops were killed, and since dead of their Wounds; and a great many were wounded.

            This Action has shown the Bravery of the King’s Troops, who under every Disadvantage, gained a compleat Victory over Three Times their Number, strongly posted, and covered by Breastworks. But they fought for their King, their Laws and Constitution.

Historical Background
On June 13, 1775, the leaders of the Patriot forces besieging Boston learned that the British planned to occupy the hills around the city, giving them control of Boston Harbor. During the night of June 16, Colonel William Prescott and 1,200 American troops occupied Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill. They constructed a redoubt on Breed’s Hill and smaller fortifications across the Charlestown Peninsula north of Boston.

On June 17, British forces in Boston learned of the American movement and mounted a series of attacks on the American forces on Bunker Hill and Breed’s Hill. The Americans repulsed two assaults and inflicted serious casualties on the British. The third and final attack was successful in driving the American forces from the Charlestown Peninsula, but with heavy casualties that made them more cautious. The American militia demonstrated that they could engage regular army troops, and their performance boosted American morale and strengthened their resolve for independence.

On July 3, Virginia planter George Washington took command of the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts. Three days later, Congress issued a declaration of the causes and necessity of taking up arms.

John Howe (1754-1835) was born in Boston, and his family belonged to a Christian religious group called the Sandemanians, who advocated pacificism, good works, charity, communal property, and opposition to state control over the church. In the mid-1760s, Howe began an apprenticeship with Richard Draper, the King’s printer in Massachusetts and publisher of the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News Letter, the oldest English newspaper in the Americas. Draper died in June 1774, and his widow Margaret Draper continued publishing the newspaper. In the wake of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, Howe likely wrote an article that appeared in the Massachusetts Gazette and a more extensive broadside account. Two months later, Howe witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill and printed and issued a broadside describing the battle. When he completed his apprenticeship, Howe became the partner of Margaret Draper and published the newspaper from October 1775 to its final issue in February 1776. The following month, he left Boston with other loyalists for Halifax, Nova Scotia. After the British seized Newport, Rhode Island, Howe moved there and became Printer for the Provincial Forces. He published the first issue of the Newport Gazette in January 1777 and printed it until its final issue in October 1779. He transferred with British forces to New York City in October 1779 but left New York for Nova Scotia in 1780. He began printing the Halifax Journal in December 1780 and also did general printing of pamphlets, sermons, and an annual almanac. From 1789 to 1792, he printed and soon began editing the monthly Nova Scotia Magazine and Comprehensive Review of Literature, Politics, and News. In 1801, he became the King’s printer for Nova Scotia and the postmaster of Halifax. In the wake of the Chesapeake-Leopard affair in 1807, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia sent Howe as a spy to the United States to gauge anti-British sentiment and assess the military preparedness of the young nation. Based on his observations in that and a subsequent trip, Howe predicted war if the British blockade and tariff on ships entering French ports were not rescinded. He retired as postmaster and King’s printer in 1818, and these appointments went to his son.

Condition: light toning and edge wear; small hole near the top edge.

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