Most of the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major British-Colonial battle of the Revolutionary War, didn’t take place on Bunker Hill at all — most of the fighting took place on Breed’s Hill. But the geographical error continues to this day, and the 221 foot tall Bunker Hill Monument stands proudly on Breed’s Hill.
Construction of the monument was an on again, off again process, building furiously when funds were available, then halted when funds were gone. Eventually, battlefield grounds had to be sold off to help complete the monument, leaving only the summit where the monument stands. The monument was dedicated in 1843, with remarks from noted orator, Daniel Webster.
The Monument is an obelisk, that is, its tall, narrow, granite sides taper into a pyramid at the top. In front, is a statue of William Prescott, memorable for his heroic actions in the Battle of Bunker Hill, and for his phrase, “Don’t fire ’til you see the whites of their eyes!”
The monument site went through a major renovation, re-opening earlier this year. In addition to basic repairs and new lighting, many improvements were made to make the site more accessible. Additionally, the Bunker Hill Museum was established across the street from the site.
Bunker Hill Monument is operated by the National Park Service, and is located on the Freedom Trail. It is open 9 am – 4:30 pm daily. There is no admission charge. Allow a couple of hours to wander the ground and climb to the top, especially in heavy tourism times.
The view from the top is spectacular, and although there is no elevator, lots of visitors opt to climb 294 steps to take advantage of that view. From there, it’s almost hard to remember that the colonists lost the battle.