A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Back to The Battle of Bunker Hill

Letter from John Bromfield to Jeremiah Powell, 21 June 1775

Page Viewing Options NOTE

Jump:
overview | small | large | transcription HELP

Request this image

Newbury Port 21st. June 1775

We had a hot, dusty, disagreeable jaunt
Home, the horse almost gave out. we took our rout
over Webster's Point. which is by far the best road.
& so escap'd Salisbury Sands -- do you take the
same in future. experience we shall always
find the best school Mr.master -- I have now
the pleasure to tell you. I found all Friends well,
& in pretty good spirits -- also that the News
we heard on Sunday is not so bad as represented --

It seems a body of our men ( the number uncertain
say, from 500 to 1000 men) fryday last took possesion
of Bunkers Hill entrench'd that night & the next
Morning got up five pieces of artillery. Mr.
Cartwright was on the Hill. Saterday morning
& says the men work'd exceeding hard all Night
& no refreshment had been sent them of any kind.
that they were almost suffocated with Dust
& Choak'd for want of liquor. they expected to have
been releav'd early in the Morning, but no releafe
came in & to add to their Distresses they found
the Regulars prepareing to pay them a visit & the
Boats hurrying about with great velocity --
Immediate Notice was sent to Head Quarters that
our Enemies were in motion -- General Ward
order'd without delay several Regiments down
to their Assistance & the two Companies belonging
to this Town among the Rest viz. Messrs. Lunt's
& Perkins's as the latter recd. orders first he
march'd down with all possible expedition
& found they Regulars had landed
& our People on the Hill actually engag'd --
Nevertheless he bravely march'd to their Assistance,
& was of eminent Service. he fir'd away all his
cartridges & haveing some loose powder in
his Pocket. he was oblig'd to strip & tare off some
part of his shirt to make wadding of. & when
he had fir'd away all his Powder. he retreated --
without hat or wigg, & almost Naked --

Stephen Jenkins behav'd with equal Valor --
& got himself much honor, as did Lieut. Whittemore
who got a flesh wound in thigh. Another man
in the same company kill'd two Regulars at
one Shott. they were both in pursuit of one
of one of our Men to take him Prisoner. but death
Instantly seized them -- Two are kill'd out of Perkins's
Company & Nine wounded (not Dangerously)
the Name of one kill'd is Norton. I can't learn who the other
is -- Lunt's company did not get up time enough
to do much execution & retreated again haveing only
one man wounded -- Mr. Little of Turky Hill
( who I have heard is lately made a Colo.) show'd great
courage & march'd with those under his Command
thro' two Regiments of our men who were looking
on at a distance but were affraid to advance.
he set them an example it seems which they did not chuse
to follow -- he proceeded 'till he found our people
retreating from the Hill. being overpower'd by
numbers -- he cover'd their retreat & got off --
without much loss -- he narrowly escap'd
with his Life. as two men were kill'd one on each
side of him & he came to the camp all bespatterd
with Blood -- Major [illegible] was order'd
also to Charlestown with a Reinforcement but
he no sooner came in sight of the Enemy than
a tremor seiz'd him & he began to Bellow --
Retreat. Retreat or You'l all be cutt off.
which so confus'd & scar'd our men; that they
retreated most precipitately. & our soldiery now
sware vengeance against him & determine not
to be under his comm --

We are not yet able to ascertain the Number of
the Enemy -- that landed at Charlestown. the Acco't
are from 3 to 6000 -- the Number kill'd of them
is also Uncertain, some say five times the Numbr.
kill'd of our men, & that ye number kill'd & wounded of the
Provincials don't exceed 100 -- which falls
far short of the Number reported at Kensington. Thank
Heavn. for it --

But the greatest loss sustaind is the death
of Dr. Warren. a main spoke in the wheel of
Politicks at this critical juncture -- he is universally
lamented in the camp -- It is said he recd. a
mortal wound on the retreat & was offer'd --
assistance when he first fell. but declin'd it
saying he had but a few moments to live
& told the man who offer'd his assistance to go
where he might be more servicible --

The man left him & the Enemy are in possession [The letter abruptly ends here, the other part having been lost.]