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Account of the Engagement on the 17th


Cambridge, June 22, 1775.

Last Friday night a detachment from our Army began an intrenchment on an eminence below Bunkser Hill, about a mile to the northward of the centre of the Town of Charlestown. The enemy appeared to be much alarmed on Saturday morning, when they discovered our operations, and immediately began a heavy cannonading from a battery on Copp' s Hill, Boston, and from the ships in the harbour. Our people, with little loss continued to carry on the works till one o' clock, P˙ M; on Saturday, when they discovered a large body of the enemy crossing Charles River from Boston. They landed on a point of land about a mile eastward of our intrenchment, and immediately disposed their Army for an attack; previous to which they set fire to the Town of Charlestown. It is supposed the enemy intended to attack us under cover of the smoke from the burning houses, the wind favouring them in such a design; while, on the other side, their Army was extended northward towards Mistick River, with an apparent design of surrounding our men within the works, and of cutting off any assistance intended for their relief. They were, however, in some measure, counteracted in this design, and drew their Army into close order. As the enemy approached, our men were not only exposed to the attack of a very


numerous musketry, but to the heavy fire of the battery on Copp' s Hill, four or five men-of-war, several armed boats or floating batteries in Mistick River, and a number of field-pieces; notwithstanding which, our Troops within the intrenchment, and at a breastwork without, sustained the enemy' s attacks with real bravery and resolution, killed and wounded great numbers, and repulsed them several times; and after bearing for about two hours as severe and heavy a fire as perhaps ever was known, and many having fired away all their ammunition, they were overpowered by numbers and obliged to leave the intrenchment, retreating about sunset to a small distance over Charlestown Neck. Our loss, from the best information we can obtain, does not exceed fifty killed, and about twenty or thirty taken prisoners.

The Town of Charlestown, supposed to contain about three hundred dwelling-houses, a great number of which were large and elegant, besides one hundred and fifty or two hundred other buildings, are almost all laid in ashes.

The enemy yet remain in possession of Charlestown, and have erected works for their defence on Bunker Hill. It is said they have brought over some of their Light-horse from Boston.

Our Troops continue in high spirits. They are fortifying a very high hill about a mile and a half from this Town, and within cannon-shot of the enemy on Bunker Hill.