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February 25th, 2008 at 10:58 pm

Bunker Hill

Bunker Hill was the site of the first of the famous battles of the Revolutionary War. No history of the Bunker family would be complete without mention of this battle, which occurred on June 17, 1775. This battle was a great significance to the American colonists but also recorded the Bunker name for posterity all over the eastern part of the country.

To the best of our current knowledge, no Bunker took part in the battle on either side, but there were no formal American regiments and no rosters of soldiers, only scattered records pieced together from individual sources. In any event, George Bunker gave the hill its name, as he and his descendants owned its land many years before the battle. A 1931 typed volume of Bunker genealogy states: “The land assigned to George Bunker extended from Main Street in the south, over the hill back of it to the north to Mystic River. One lost (pasture land) ran over the summit of Bunker Hill, and hence this name, given by early and common consent to two connected ridges of elevated ground in the peninsula.”

George and his descendants had left Charlestown several years before the battle. The American colonists originally expected to fortify Bunker Hill and actually started work, when it was decided to move forward and down to Breed’s Hill. There were 11 English light infantry companies in the attacking army. During the battle the city of Charlestown was destroyed by cannon fire from British war ships supporting their troops.

Bunker Hill Flag

According to Henry Bunker III, at least two versions of the flag used by the American patriots in the battle of Bunker Hill are depicted in paintings made long after the battle. Henry Bunker’s conclusion was that possibly both were actually used. One version, used in New England before 1737, had a blue field with a white union quartered by a red cross. This flag, with the addition of a green pine tree in the upper inner quarter of the union, was carried at the battle of Bunker Hill as depicted in early paintings. More recent flag research states the flag was red, with the New Englander’s pine tree on a white cannon. The cross of St. George in use on earlier New England flags was omitted as Americans took up arms against the British (see Bunker Family History, p. 99}.

Bunker Hill Monument

The Bunker Hill monument on Breed’s Hill is still an important part of the Boston skyline. The Marquis de Lafayette laid the cornerstone in 1825 for the 220-foot tall structure of granite, quarried at Quincy, Massachusetts. The dressed stones were transported on our country’s first railroad, constructed specifically for that purpose, from the quarry to barges on the Neponset River for transfer to Charlestown.

The above information is summarized from Henry L. Bunker III’s 1984 Bunker Family History, pp. 69-70, 72, and 99-100.

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