Today in History, June 17, 1775:
“Don’t one of you fire until you see the whites of their eyes!”
The Battle of Bunker Hill.
British Gen. William Howe landed his army on the Charlestown Peninsula and attacks colonist (Patriot) positions on Breed’s Hill and Bunker Hill.
Believing they were fighting farmers with pitchforks (the Patriots WERE as yet untrained and unorganized) Howe had his well trained, experienced troops charge the American positions head on, and was repelled by not so inexperienced fire (a poor farmer hunting game can’t afford to waste ammo, and becomes a very good marksman).
The Brits mounted a second attack, and were again sent running back down the hill. A third wave succeeded, however, as the militia was running out of ammunition.
Howe eventually won the battle, but he did so at great expense…nearly half his army lie dead on the field. The British had learned a dear lesson…they were fighting an untrained and poorly disciplined group of citizen soldiers…that were highly motivated and devoted to their cause.