Two hundred thirty-eight years ago last week, the first and bloodiest battle of the Revolutionary War took place in Boston. Chances are good that much of what you know about that battle is wrong.
Philbrick's latest book is "Bunker Hill," a volume that sets some of the record straight - not only about the battle, but about the times and the personalities involved. For example, he makes plain that the revolutionaries were not all high-minded patriots with legitimate, principled grievances against the British. Some, he says, were thugs whose ideas about freedom did not extend to women, let alone to slaves.
As we near the July 4th holiday, Kerri Miller welcomed Philbrick to the studio for a conversation about "Bunker Hill."
LEARN MORE ABOUT NATHANIEL PHILBRICK AND 'BUNKER HILL':
• The True Story of the Battle of Bunker Hill
Badly depleted, the besieged British abandoned plans to seize another high point near the city and ultimately evacuated Boston. The battle also demonstrated American resolve and dispelled hopes that the rebels might relent without a protracted conflict. "Our three generals," a British officer wrote of his commanders in Boston, had "expected rather to punish a mob than fight with troops that would look them in the face." (Smithsonian.com)
'Bunker Hill:' a city, a siege, a new book by Nathaniel Philbrick
In fact, he says, some of the so-called patriots were little more than thugs who harassed and persecuted loyalist-leaning citizens until they either fled or surrendered to circumstances. Other colonists simply had trouble choosing sides in the developing conflict. Not only that, but Philbrick asserts that the patriots really had little cause for complaint. "Compared to other outposts of [British] empire, the American colonists were exceedingly well off," he writes. "It's been estimated that they were some of the most prosperous, least-taxed people in the Western world." (Seattle Times)
• 'Bunker Hill' by Nathaniel Philbrick
For the enduring meaning of Bunker Hill was that it awakened both sides to the breadth and depth of the struggle unfolding in and around Boston. And it prompted one of the most remarkable stories of warfare on this continent or any other, the transport of 42 sledges carrying 59 cannons and other pieces of artillery from the mountain fastnesses of New York to Boston in the dead of winter. (Boston Globe)
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