A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at the house of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, No. 28 Newbury Street, Boston, on Thursday, January 22, 1925, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Fred Norris Robinson, Ph.D., in the chair.

    The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.

    The Corresponding Secretary reported that a letter had been received from Mr. Frederick Jackson Turner, accepting Corresponding Membership.

    Mr. Charles Sprague Sargent of Brookline was elected a Resident Member.

    Upon the recommendation of the Council, reported to the Society by the President, the following vote was passed:

    That the Society approves of the action of the Council at its December meeting in authorizing the Editor or other officer of the Society to place on deposit at the Massachusetts Historical Society such books, pamphlets, manuscripts, etc., as to them seems proper, subject to withdrawal at the request of the Council.

    Mr. Harold Murdock read the following paper:


    There are two sides in every battle, and I propose to concentrate upon the excellent contemporaneous evidence that exists, both official and non-official, with a view to describing the British attack on Breed’s Hill lines on the 17th of June, 1775. This story lends itself naturally to separate and distinct treatment, and a reasonable understanding of what our ancestors achieved at Bunker Hill can be more easily attained if we are solidly informed as to the numbers, plans, and activities of their adversaries.

    While the army in Boston at this time was a good army, well officered and equipped, it is evident that between the 19th of April and the 17th of June there had been some deterioration in its morale, and probably some impairment of its health. Restricted to the narrow boundaries of the town, badly quartered, inactive, with a shortage of fresh provisions, mentally and bodily the army was just beginning to feel the inconvenience of the siege. After Lexington, Gage lay upon his arms, nonplussed by the situation and awaiting the arrival of reinforcements. A larger force was a necessity of the military situation, yet he knew that, unless these accessions were used for the enlargement of the military area, they would only add to the congestion in the town and render more acute the problems of subsistence.

    On May 6, there arrived from Halifax four companies of the 65th Regiment.210 On the 14th, a transport came in with a detachment of Marines, the first installment of a reinforcement of six hundred for that corps.211 With the Marines then serving in the town, these men were incorporated into two provisional regiments or battalions of ten companies each, to serve under Major Pitcairn; as witness his orders of May 20.212

    These two detachments were the first reinforcements to arrive after the 19th of April. On May 25th the Cerberus came in with the three Major Generals aboard, Howe, Clinton, and Burgoyne, and in the interval between that date and the 17th of June there also arrived the 17th Regiment of Light Dragoons (Preston’s) and the 35th, 49th, and 63rd Regiments of Foot. This infantry was still in the process of landing on the 17th of June, and a portion of the 35th and 49th were still at sea.

    It is possible then, although I believe the task has never been seriously undertaken before, to determine from reliable British records the various commands that were serving in Boston at the moment that the Lively opened fire on the redoubt upon Breed’s Hill. These consisted of the 4th, 5th, 10th, 23rd, 35th, 38th, 43rd, 47th, 49th, 52rd, 59th, and 63rd Regiments of Foot, the First and Second Battalions of Marines, the 17th Light Dragoons, and five companies of Royal Artillery.213 To these should be added what was known as the Incorporated Corps, a provisional regiment made up of three companies of the 18th Regiment214 and six companies of the 65th. At the Castle were the 64th Regiment and two companies of recruits assigned to the 14th, which had been ordered there for training.215 The 64th was not included in the activities of the Boston garrison, and is not mentioned in Howe’s orders until October 27. With this knowledge of the composition of the army we may make a close approximation of its numerical strength. The authorized company strength for British regiments serving in America was 38 men.216 This figure was never reached in Boston except in the case of the Marines, where it was clearly exceeded. We know that the 23rd (Royal Welch Fusileers) took the field on the 19th of April with 282 men.217 We know that the Light Company of the 35th fought at Bunker Hill with thirty rank and files.218 We know from Howe’s order of August 3, after the arrival of drafts and enlistments, that some of his regiments had a company strength of 33, some 34, and some 35 men. It is the accumulation of such evidence as this that justifies us in assuming that the average strength of a Regiment of Foot on duty in Boston in June, 1775, did not exceed 340 rank and file. As for the artillery and cavalry we have Howe’s figures of October 1. The strength of the army on this basis, then, making no allowance for the sick and unfit for duty, works out as follows:

    12 Regiments of 340 men


    2 Battalions of Marines of 450 men


    Incorporated Corps; 9 Companies 18th & 65th Regiments


    Dragoons (Howe’s return October 1)


    Artillery (Howe’s return October 1)


    64th Regiment at the Castle


    Or a total rank and file of


    Perhaps, in the presence of the three Major Generals, fresh from the battlefields of Parliament, Gage realized that his days were short in his present command; but he was tired of his task and disgusted with the recalcitrant people whom he had honestly hoped to serve. He had tried argument, persuasion, and force, and had failed in each. “The people’s minds,” he wrote in a private letter to Dartmouth, “are kept so much heated and inflamed, that they are always ripe for everything that is extravagant. Truth is kept from them, and they are too full of prejudice to believe it, if laid before them; and so blind and bigoted, that they cannot see that they have exchanged liberty for tyranny. No people were ever governed more absolutely than those of the American Provinces now are, and no reason can be given for their submission, but that it is a tyranny they have erected themselves, as they believe, to avoid greater evils.”219 So thought and so wrote this honest, liberty-loving British officer. If the magic name of Howe, the iron hand of Clinton, or the cultivated blandishments of Burgoyne could bring order out of the present chaos, I believe that Gage was ready, nay, eager to resign his trust.’220

    But for instructions from London, Gage would probably have omitted his proclamation declaring martial law in the Province and offering free pardon to all rebels save John Hancock and Samuel Adams.221 He doubtless had competent assistance in its preparation. At all events, there are sentences in the document which suggest that they were written by Burgoyne and not by Gage. It required no outside hint to convince the General that the occupation of the Charlestown peninsula and Dorchester Neck was necessary for the safety of Boston. He had been restrained from a move upon either by the insufficiency of his force. He had warned the selectmen of Charlestown that any invasion of the peninsula by the rebel army would be followed promptly by the destruction of the town. This he had hoped would act as a sufficient deterrent to any hostile move in that quarter. With the arrival of reinforcements he determined to put his long delayed project into effect and to occupy Dorchester Neck. The affair was planned for June 18, Burgoyne being our authority. “Howe was to land the transports on the Point,” he writes to Lord Stanley, “Clinton in the centre; and I was to cannonade from the Causeway or the Neck: each to take advantage of circumstances. The operations must have been very easy.”222

    But at daybreak on the 17th the roar of the Lively’s guns awoke Gage, as it did all Boston, and he had barely time to put himself into presentable appearance before a naval officer came running up the steps of the Province House with the message that the rebels were entrenched on Charlestown Heights.

    Perhaps we can spare a moment in the midst of a dry, statistical paper, to linger in the hall of the Governor’s mansion and mark the awakening activity in the military world. Sleepy-eyed aides and orderlies appear as if by magic and depart on urgent errands, candles begin to twinkle in the dusk of the council chamber, while through the open door the glow of the coming day flames red above the trees beyond the lawn. The hall is filling with eager officers anxious for duty: Burgoyne comes jauntily, with a polite smile for all, but with his heart bitter in the thought that no glory is awaiting him in the presence of three officers of superior rank; Howe arrives, his majestic figure towering above the rest, his swarthy face hard and grim, in marked contrast to Clinton of the benign and placid countenance; Pigot of the lion heart and diminutive body, appears and disappears among those of loftier port; and here, too, is Percy, breathing quick after a brisk walk from his house at the head of Winter Street. Then, behind closed doors, while the windows rattle to the cannonading in the Charles, and the clock on the Old South across the way clangs out the passing hours, the Council of War enters soberly upon the business of the day.

    We have no certain information as to the composition of this Council or any details of its deliberations.223 We must assume that the General had no satisfactory map of Charlestown. He had not taken the precaution to secure surveys, and Montresor’s careful work is of a later date. Doubtless the Council understood the problem as it then existed. Between sunset and sunrise an entrenchment had been thrown up on the hill above Charlestown village. Bunker Hill beyond had not been fortified, and the menace was confined to the work on the nearer and lesser height.

    There must have been officers present who exulted in the consciousness that the rebels had placed themselves in a hopeless dilemma and who recalled the adage that “whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.” It is alleged that Clinton urged a landing from Charles River in the vicinity of the Neck. Burgoyne’s assurance that Clinton, Howe, and himself had “never differed one jot of military sentiment”224 may mean that the trio were in accord on this occasion. Had Oliver Cromwell sat in Gage’s chair he would doubtless have regarded this rash act of the enemy as a vouchsafing from the Lord who had delivered the Amalekites into his hands and made them the captives of his bow and spear. But Gage was not Cromwell and, rightly or wrongly, he is credited with opposing Clinton’s plan. It is possible that a landing on the Mystic side of the Neck was considered; but whatever opposition developed to any descent upon that quarter was based upon sound military convention. The number of men in the redoubt was unknown, but Gage doubtless had reliable data of the American strength at Cambridge and knew that this exceeded that of his entire command. To him the idea of placing a force between two hostile bodies of superior aggregate strength seemed unmilitary and unthinkable.

    The more elastic minds doubtless argued that peculiar situations could not be met by rigid rule. They probably urged that the rebels, however numerous, were undisciplined and poorly equipped, and would be helpless against trained troops in the open field. A small force, supported by artillery, could hold the Neck against all comers, while the men in the redoubt, cut off from retreat and supports, must either languish in their isolation or come out and fight at a disadvantage.225 The army had been yearning to meet these people in a fair stand-up engagement, and no one could deny that the Charlestown peninsula was singularly bare of cover and of trees. For nearly one hundred and fifty years the consensus of military opinion has been that the plan ascribed to Clinton met the requirements of the case. It was finally decided that the men-of-war should cover a landing of the troops in Charlestown to the east of the ferry, and that armed vessels and gondolas should lie in the Charles and enfilade the Neck to retard reinforcements and impede a retreat.226 This did not mean, as has been so long assumed, that a decision had been made to attack the redoubt in front, or that the sentiment that is said to have appeared among the officers in the field, to “take the bull by the horns,”227 was a creation of the Council of War. The landing was to be made at Moulton’s Point at the mouth of the Mystic, the most distant point from the redoubt, and the intent was to advance along the river out of range of that work, with a view to occupying a position on the flank and well to the rear of its defenders. Thus, it was probably argued, Clinton’s principal aim might still be achieved; and it must be remembered that when the Council broke up, and for some hours thereafter, there was not a Provincial soldier to impede the British march along this line straight to the summit of Bunker Hill.228 The New Hampshire troops were then loafing about their camps in Medford, while Knowlton and his handful of Connecticut men were still toiling on the redoubt. The one incomprehensible blunder of the Council was their neglect to provide naval support for the attack they had planned. The ships in the Charles and in the harbor were of no value to a column advancing along the Mystic shore. A flood tide was running strong up that river and all things favored naval cooperation on that side. What the Council might have provided from the motive of “making assurance double sure” developed later into a vital necessity of the situation.

    By nine o’clock, the battery on Copp’s Hill, reinforced by three 24-pounders, had opened fire on the redoubt. The ships were still engaged and the admiral229 was busy in executing the orders from Headquarters. Howe was to command the landing force, accompanied by Brigadier Pigot. Percy was assigned to Boston Neck to superintend an artillery attack upon the Roxbury lines. If you examine the General Orders for that morning,230 you will find that the troops assigned to Howe comprised all the Light Infantry and Grenadiers, and the 5th, 38th, 43rd, and 52nd Regiments. “The 10 Eldest Companys of Grenadiers and the 10 Eldest Companys of Light Infantry (Exclusive of those of the Regts lately landed)” were to embark from “the long wharf,” with the 5th and 38th Regiments. The remaining companies of Grenadiers and Light Infantry, with the 43rd and 52nd Regiments, were to enter their boats at the North Battery. These troops were ordered “to parade at Half after 11 o’clock, with their Arms, Ammunition, Blanketts,” and provisions. It was provided that a subaltern, sergeant, corporal, drummer, and twenty privates from each corps, should be left “for the Security of their respective Encampments.”

    It was further ordered that, upon the embarkation of this force, the 47th Regiment and the First Battalion of Marines should march to the North Battery “and be ready to Embark there when Order’d,” or, in other words, stand in reserve.

    With this knowledge we can proceed to our estimate of the strength of Howe’s command, which, for more than a century, has been the subject of much unintelligent surmise. I shall figure that the companies took the field with an average strength of thirty rank and file. This is based upon my original estimate of the garrison, deducting two men for the encampment guard and two more for the sick and unfit for duty. This last allowance is probably insufficient, but, absolute accuracy being impossible, my aim is to achieve Howe’s possible maximum strength. There came, then, to the long wharf –

    20 companies, Grenadiers and Light Infantry, of 30 men


    The 5th and 38th Battalions, 16 companies of 30 men


    Or a total embarking at the long wharf of


    At the North Battery had gathered the 43rd and 52nd Regiments and the remaining companies of Grenadiers and Light Infantry, or, those of the First and Second Battalions of Marines, and of the 35th and 63rd Regiments.231 The 49th was not represented because its flank companies were still at sea. For some reason, perhaps because of a shortage of boats, the flank companies of the 35th were the only ones to embark with the regiments from the Battery.232 We should therefore figure the detachment leaving this point as follows:

    The 43rd and 52nd Battalions, 16 companies of 30 men


    35th Regiment, 2 companies Grenadiers and Light Infantry


    Or a total of


    Thus we have, in round numbers, a force of 1600 men under Howe’s command, landing at Moulton’s Point under cover of the fire of the ships. I have estimated this detachment separately from the reserve, as I expect to show that it was upon the former that the brunt of the battle fell and four-fifths of the loss. The reserve, I believe, was not involved in the early and destructive stage of the action, being ordered up only in season for the final operations against the redoubt.

    When the 47th Regiment and the Marines came swinging down to the Battery to the music of their fifes and drums, they were doubtless surprised to find the six flank companies that had been assigned to Howe’s landing force still awaiting transportation. Including these, we must compute the strength of the reserve in some such way as this:

    47th Battalion, 8 companies of 30 men


    First Battalion of Marines (complete), 10 companies of 40 men


    Second Battalion of Marines, 2 companies Grenadiers and Light Infantry of 40 men


    63rd Regiment, 2 companies Grenadiers and Light Infantry of 30 men


    Or a total of


    There was, then, including this reserve, a force of about 2400 men placed at Howe’s command. This is not in conflict with Gage’s official statement, “the whole when in conjunction making a body of something above 2000 men.”233 American estimates of the British strength naturally ran into all sorts of extravagance, and were as wild, indeed, as British guesses as to the force of their adversaries. Men were found “who counted the troops as they left the wharves in Boston,” with results ranging from 3500 to 5000 men. I can conceive of no more unreliable evidence than this, but it is true that many worthy and able historians have harbored the suspicion that, both as to numbers and losses, Gage falsified his returns. “Neither British accounts, nor the British plans of the battle,” says Frothingham, “mention all the regiments that were in the field. Thus, the movements of the second battalion of marines are not given; yet the official table of loss states that it had seven killed and thirty wounded.”234

    Before commenting specifically upon this assertion, I wish to say a word upon a problem that in one way or another has confused our most intelligent writers. Their doubts and perplexities have been largely due to a lack of understanding of the composition of a British regiment of the day and of the peculiar status and functions of its companies of Grenadiers and Light Infantry. I do not recall any attempt by an American writer to clarify this situation, and perhaps now, a hundred and fifty years after the battle, a few words upon this subject will not be regarded as premature.

    A British regiment serving in America at this time consisted of ten companies, including one of Grenadiers and one of Light Infantry. These were commonly known as the flank companies, from their position in the line, and consisted of picked men. It was the custom, though its wisdom was criticized then and is not clear to us now, when regiments were brigaded, to detach these companies and to form them into provisional battalions for special service. The flank companies in Boston were embodied in two separate corps on June 4, and if we had been in the town during the following day, we might have visited the two new encampments, where we should have found Colonel Abercrombie commanding the Grenadiers, and Colonel Clark in charge of the Light Infantry. The effect of this was to reduce the line regiments to battalions of eight companies each. A curious anomaly existed that is responsible for much of the confusion in scholarly minds. Losses suffered in action by the two corps were not assigned to the corps, but to the regiment which carried the victim upon its rolls.

    Now Mr. Frothingham understood this problem, but he was not aware that the marine battalions were organized on the same basis as the line regiments, with companies of Grenadiers and Light Infantry. The Second Marines was not in the field, but its flank companies, in common with those of every other regiment, were engaged, and that is why the parent battalion appears as a sufferer in the action. In proof of this, if proof is necessary, a comparison of the battalion roster of the Second Marines235 with their list of officers killed and wounded in the battle shows that every officer of this battalion who was hit, was either of the Light Infantry or the Grenadiers. Every regiment in Boston suffered casualties at Bunker Hill, and yet the fact remains that only six regiments had more than two companies engaged. A mastery of this problem should convince the most doubting Thomas that the British reports are reliable and that Gage as a statistician was neither a knave nor a fool.

    The very best British information that exists on the battle is to be found in two maps. The first is by Lieutenant Page,236 who was Howe’s staff engineer on the field, and based his details on Captain Montresor’s admirable survey of the peninsula. This appeared in London in 1777. The other, first published in the Analectic Magazine in 1818, reproduces a sketch by Lieutenant de Bernière, whose abilities as a draughtsman were held in such high esteem by Gage.237 The sketch itself was found among the Lieutenant’s papers after the British evacuation of Philadelphia. While based upon the work of a British officer, this map is said to be the first to be engraved in America of the Battle of Bunker Hill.238 It lacks the geographical accuracy of Page’s work, but is of great value as showing the location and movements of certain military units not depicted on the other. The maps differ in certain minor details, but are in agreement on all essential matters.

    It is probable that Howe was landing on Moulton’s Point between one and two o’clock, and that, shortly after, he stood, with his 1600 men drawn up in three lines, on the little hill as indicated on Page’s map. Somewhat in advance, eight field guns are portrayed in action, and this is in accordance with the statement in the History of the Royal Artillery that four light 6-pounders, four light 12-pounders, and four 5½ inch howitzers were landed with the detachment. From American sources of a dubiously late date we learn that the troops fell to on their midday rations, and to the defenders of the redoubt they seemed in no haste to enter upon the business of the day. Howe’s first move was to throw forward four companies of Light Infantry where, close to the Mystic, they stood sheltered by “a break in the ground.”239 The 5th and 38th Battalions under Pigot’s direction moved across the Charlestown road and took a position about a quarter of a mile southeast of the redoubt, where they formed the left wing “covered by the rising of the Hill.”240 This detachment is shown by Page with its left refused, in deference to the fire from Charlestown.241 The artillery was then pushed forward into the wide gap between these outposts, and Page represents seven guns in action, with their fire directed upon the breastwork and the lightly protected line running at half right angles to it.

    This was Howe’s first position. He was cautiously feeling his way instead of advancing boldly over the open land in front. These preliminaries were doubtless due to a remarkable thing that had occurred. A body of Provincials, with intuitions born of common sense and their Indian instinct for finding or creating cover, seized upon the line of a fence-topped stone wall that extended from a point back of the redoubt to the shore of the Mystic, and by singularly rapid methods proceeded to convert it into one of the famous ramparts of all time, which has gone down in American history by the name of “the rail fence.” In an incredibly short time, the open land sloping up to Bunker Hill had become obstructed by a defensive line, the problem considered by the Council of War had entirely changed its character and Howe’s contemplated advance was challenged and opposed.

    Was Howe dilatory? Was it due to his inertia or indecision that a golden opportunity was thus allowed to pass? In our confusion as to time at this crisis, he is probably entitled to a verdict of not proven, and it must of course be remembered that the debarkation of a large body of troops from small boats and their ordering for attack is both a difficult and a complicated piece of business. He had doubtless intended to divert the defenders of the redoubt while giving them a wide berth, but as he stood waiting at Moulton’s Point, he had seen the redoubt come down to the Mystic.

    No wonder that he sent to Boston for his reserves. Probably before this he had, on Pigot’s request, sent his order for the burning of Charlestown. So far as we know, it never occurred to him to appeal for naval aid in the Mystic. To be sure, the afternoon was wearing on and some delays might be involved; he doubtless believed that the rebels were being constantly reinforced; and yet it would seem that he might at least have appealed for one or two of those gondolas, of the sort operating so aimlessly in the Charles, a few shots from which on the Mystic side would have rendered the rail fence untenable.242 Perhaps he held lightly the crude shelter that had sprung up so suddenly on his front. Perhaps he was influenced by the enthusiasm of his officers and the slogan that arose “to take the bull by the horns.”

    But even then it is probable that Howe was hopeful of avoiding a front attack, and his purpose is still clear, either to steal round the Provincial flank by the Mystic beach, or to break through this flank on a narrow front if it had become too late to turn it. De Bernière shows clearly the long thin column of Light Infantry moving along the Mystic shore, each company indicated by its regimental number. Page shows in dotted lines an advance on a broader front along the same route, illustrative, according to his key, of “the Order our Troops would probably have Attack’d in, had our Light Infantry been able to penetrate.” This interlocking evidence of the two maps shows clearly Howe’s purpose, and then Page indicates the next move: “Grenadiers taking Ground on the Left of the Light Infantry which had not been able to force the enemy.”

    I believe that Dawson was right when, in 1868, he advanced the theory that this Light Infantry attack was a prologue to the battle, and I also believe that its disastrous issue involved Howe at last in the problems and dangers of a front attack upon positions defended, as he believed, by a force three times as great as his own. We have little to guide us in our quest for details of the development of the action in this quarter. This part of the field was hidden from the people on the ships and from all observers in Boston. Perhaps the discomfiture of the light companies converted what was meant to be a mere demonstration by the Grenadiers into a serious attack upon the fence.243 We must remember, however, that Howe’s whole force on this front did not exceed seven hundred men and had been crippled at the outset by the heavy losses inflicted upon his light troops. Whatever happened here, it is evident that the serious fighting was soon over, Howe drawing off a portion of his Grenadiers to assist the battalions in front of the breastwork.244

    It is to be noted that, with the exception of the Light Infantry,245 the troops both here and in front of the redoubt were brought up in line, firing as they advanced. They were in heavy marching order, each man encumbered with a superfluous weight estimated at more than one hundred pounds. They made their way through stout standing grass that reached to their waists, and through, over, and under strong fences that impeded their progress and broke up their formations. We are informed that the infantry were halted from time to time in their slow march246 to allow the artillery to fire and we have it on the best of unofficial authority that the artillery failed at critical moments. Howe seems to have had no knowledge of the physical features of the Charlestown peninsula.247 Some of the guns became mired in a swamp, as is clearly shown on de Bernière’s map. Worse than that, it is alleged that the 6-pounder companies found 12-pound ball in their side boxes. It is further alleged, and this is of minor importance, that this cruel blunder was due to the carelessness of Colonel Cleaveland, Chief of Artillery, who wasted too much time in company with a daughter of Master Lovell of the Latin School.248 Cleaveland’s report, made to the Master General, seems equivocal: “I sent sixty-six rounds to each gun, and not more than half was fired.”249 The question was one of calibre, not of quantity.

    On Page’s map the artillery is shown in its second position. Only three pieces are in action. In the rear are scattered four idle guns as though abandoned in the fields. Can we accept this as confirming the undoubted fact that the Royal Artillery had more than its share of trouble at Bunker Hill?

    While Howe was so fruitlessly employed on the right, Pigot was advancing slowly upon the redoubt. Charlestown was then well alight, and the smoke of the conflagration was drifting over the battlefield before a southwest breeze.250 After a prolonged musketry duel, the fire from the redoubt ceased, and not only Pigot but the spectators in Boston were deceived into believing that the Provincials were abandoning their works. But as the British approached close under the parapet, they were met by a sudden and shattering fire that sent them reeling back for one hundred and fifty yards.251 The British general with his 1600 men had failed upon both flanks and had been fought to a standstill. It seems clear that up to this time his reserve had not been engaged. This is attested by Burgoyne’s statements in his personal letter to Lord Stanley, and is unmistakably confirmed by Clinton.

    We know that when Howe embarked, Clinton and Burgoyne strolled idly to Copp’s Hill, where the artillery was at work. The rail fence was invisible from this point, and if they saw the smoke rising from behind Breed’s Hill, they could hardly have appreciated its significance. Burgoyne’s enthusiastic comment that “Howe’s disposition was exceeding soldierlike,”252 doubtless referred to the pageantry of Pigot’s advance upon the redoubt. Howe’s request for the burning of Charlestown had been promptly executed. “They were also exceedingly hurt by musketry from Charlestown,” says Burgoyne, “though Clinton and I did not perceive it until Howe sent us word by a boat, and desired us to set fire to the Town, which was immediately done; we threw a parcel of shells, and the whole was instantly in flames.” It is probable that at this time the reserve was already afloat. Half an hour later came Pigot’s reverse, which seemed to Burgoyne the critical moment of the day. To use his own words, “Howe’s left were staggered.” At this moment both of our generals saw that the reserve was standing idle where they had landed. “We perceived them on the beach,” says Burgoyne, “seeming in embarrassment what way to march. Clinton then, next for business, took the part without waiting for orders, to throw himself into a boat to head them; he arrived in time to be of service; the day ended with glory.”

    Clinton’s comments are confirmatory and modest, and appear in his letter of July 23 to Lord Moira: “The hopes of being of a little service where I thought I saw an opportunity brought me to the assistance of my friend Gen. Howe en volontaire; the affair however was in great measure decided on my getting there, and I had little more to do, than offer my assistance and advice wherever that could be of use.”253 In his copy of Stedman’s History of the American War, Clinton also made this marginal note, “G. C. saw a moment in which He thought He might be of use. His volunteer services were acknowledged by G. Howe. The appearance of a Reinforcement Encouraged the one possibly and discouraged the other.”

    It seems to me that the statements of these important witnesses clearly establish two facts — first, that at the time of Pigot’s repulse the reserve had not entered the battle; and second, that Clinton crossed the river to lead them. It is also indicated that when Clinton landed these men had gone forward, he finding the affair “in great measure decided” upon his arrival.254

    Howe had already suffered such losses that the entrance of these fresh troops into the action did little more than reëstablish his original strength. The Marines and the 47th Regiment pushed on between Charlestown and the redoubt and attacked from that side. The other battalions are shown on the British maps as uniting in a concentric assault upon the work. The artillery had finally surmounted its difficulties and gained a position where it breached the breastwork255 and partly enfiladed the lightly fortified line beyond. Driven from here after a stubborn resistance the Provincials fled in all directions, some into the redoubt, leaving a wide gap between that work and the rail fence. The British advanced rapidly into this undefended area and poured a withering cross fire upon Prescott’s men as they rushed out of the sally port.256 So Howe, who had planned to gain the battle on his right, finally broke through on his left.

    The defenders of the rail fence, who had been held in check by certain Grenadier companies and the remnants of the Light Infantry, held their lines until Prescott’s fugitives came abreast and then retired,257 preserving some measure of order and maintaining a fire that to some extent served to cover the retreat.258 There was no vigorous pursuit. Clinton still appears as the man of action in the military gossip of the day, and it is claimed that he urged pursuit and pushing on to Cambridge. Now this is what the Provincial leaders dreaded, their army being scattered and demoralized, and Cambridge, to quote Artemas Ward, “being entirely undefended.” While Howe’s force was, of course, shattered and exhausted, the Marines and the 47th Battalion were available for this business, and all the troops in Boston were standing to their arms. But the hour was late and the opportunity, if opportunity it was, was allowed to pass.

    The British followed their enemy in leisurely fashion, and it was nearly six o’clock before they occupied the Neck. Five of the six Provincial cannon remained in their hands and all of the entrenching equipment. The only joy that night was in the British lines, and the cheering of the troops as they entered the redoubt was plainly heard in Boston.259 But this enthusiasm was short-lived and did not survive the realization of what that day’s conquest had cost. Then in the British correspondence the anger and discontent in the garrison are plainly evidenced. Here is a sample: “We are all wrong at the head. My mind cannot help dwelling upon our cursed mistakes. Such ill conduct at the first out-set argues a gross ignorance of the most common rules of the profession, and gives us, for the future, anxious forebodings. I have lost some of those I most valued. This madness or ignorance nothing can excuse. The brave men’s lives were wantonly thrown away. Our conductor as much murdered them as if he had cut their throats himself, on Boston Common. Had he fallen, ought we to have regretted him?”260

    We must remember that the events we have been reviewing covered a front of only half a mile, and from the first Light Infantry attack to the capture of the redoubt there was consumed probably not more than an hour of time.261 Yet on that front and in those short sixty minutes the British casualties amounted to 1054 officers and men.262 There is no evidence that any other troops save the Grenadiers and Light Infantry were employed in the attacks upon the rail fence, and the loss in these corps amounted to 465 men out of an estimated strength of less than 700, or nearly seventy per cent. In the four battalions that crossed with Howe, aggregating less than a thousand men, the loss, deducting that of their flank companies, was about 246, or nearly thirty per cent. This makes the total casualties in the first detachment 711 out of 1600 rank and file engaged. The reserve which arrived in season to reëstablish Pigot’s wing and to assist in the reduction of the redoubt, lost 166 out of a strength of about 800 men. It appears that the bulk of these casualties fell upon the Grenadiers and Light Infantry of that detachment, only about 50 being sustained by the battalion companies of the 47th and the First Marines. These figures take no account of the non-commissioned officers and musicians included in the British official total, nor of the 92 commissioned officers who suffered, out of perhaps 250 on the field.

    In the British correspondence we find general admiration expressed for the heroism of the troops and much praise of the courage of their adversaries, commendation of “the Troops of Putnam, who fought so gallantly pro aris et focis,”263 — sentiments that Lord North might have regarded as unbecoming, perhaps treasonable, in a British officer. But there is one letter (presumably intercepted) printed in Force, from “an officer on board one of the King’s ships,” that should be read in connection with the losses in the field that we have just reviewed. “Nothing can exceed the panic and apparent dislike of most of the King’s troops to enter into this engagement; even at the landing, several attempted to run away, and five actually took to their heels in order to join the Americans, but were presently brought back, and two of them were immediately hung up in terrorem to the rest.”264 I think if anything of this sort had happened, we should have heard of it from other critical quarters, and the balance of this letter is such an incoherent distortion of well-established facts as to exclude the writer from the ranks of credible witnesses. But what shall we say to this, penned by no less a person than General John Burgoyne? It is addressed to Lord Rochfort, Secretary of State for the Colonies; its contents are to be confidential with the recipient and “not pass even in a whisper … to more than one person.” No wonder that the General trembles as he writes, —

    The zeal and intrepidity of the officers, which was without exception exemplary, was ill seconded by the private men. Discipline, not to say courage, was wanting. In the critical moment of carrying the redoubt, the officers of some corps were almost alone; and what was the worst part of the confusion of these corps — all the wounds of the officers were not received from the enemy. I do not mean to convey any suspicion of backwardness in the cause of Government among the soldiery, which ignorant people in England are apt to imagine; and as little would I be understood to imply any dislike or ill will to their officers.… I only mean to represent that the men … being ill grounded in the great points of discipline.… it will require some training under such generals as Howe and Clinton before they can prudently be entrusted in many exploits against such odds as the conduct and spirit of the leaders enabled them in this instance to overcome.265

    Burgoyne’s tribute to the officers was richly deserved; but did he stoop to the vilification of the common soldier in order to convince the King that he had one major-general in America who was shocked at deficiencies there and was quite competent to set them right? He was a wise and humane soldier, but a jealous subordinate, hungry for power. As he sat in his quarters writing his confidential note to that noble lord in England, nearly nine hundred of the men he was defaming were lying in new-made graves or suffering pain from wounds received in battle. That these men recoiled and broke under the terrible fire, which so far exceeded that of Minden, is an undoubted fact; that the officers had to exert almost superhuman efforts to prevent panic and disorder has never been denied. But if “discipline, not to say courage” were lacking in this fire-smitten rank and file, it would be interesting to know what quality or influence it was that enabled them to endure undefeated the terrors of such an appalling test.

    Only eight months later, February 20, 1776, Burgoyne was sitting once more in his seat in Parliament. To Colonel Barré’s charge that because of detestation of the American service the common soldiers had “grossly misbehaved at Bunker Hill,” he sprang to his feet and returned an angry denial. “No men on earth,” he declared, “ever behaved with more spirit and perserverance, till they forced the enemy out of their entrenchments.”266 So we can appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober.

    In this review I think we have determined from indisputable official authority the military units serving in the Boston garrison in June, 1775. From equally reliable sources it has been possible to make a close approximation of the numerical strength of these units and the size of the force employed by Howe in his attack. The theory that the Council of War did not order an attack in front and that Howe had no such idea in mind when he crossed the Charles, must stand or fall upon the evidence offered in its support, as must that other theory respecting the brief and limited activities of the reserve. While we do not know and never shall know the truth in regard to the Provincial strength in the battle, one thing is certain, that Howe so managed his affairs as to be drawn at last into a front attack upon entrenched lines stoutly defended by a superior force.

    Having in mind the obtuseness of the British High Command, the misfortunes and tactical mistakes of the commander in the field, and, above all, the amazing courage and steadiness of those rustic. defenders of the redoubt and the rail fence, I conceive that the conquest of Breed’s Hill by the King’s troops was a very gallant feat of arms. It was such deeds as this, repeated in another century, that wrung from the French Marshal267 the admission that the British infantry was the best in the world, and drew from him also that supplementary grateful prayer thanking God that there was so little of it.

    Mr. Arthur Lord made the following communication:

    At the January meeting of this Society in 1915, Mr. Matthews called attention to an announcement of the publication of an edition of Morton’s New England’s Memorial, which appeared in a note to the Discourse delivered by the Rev. James Flint, at Plymouth, December 22, 1815, and published in Boston in 1816. Mr. Flint said in part in his note —

    To those who may wish to furnish themselves with a minute and full historical account of the Pilgrims, and of the Plymouth colony and church, down to the present period, we would recommend the “New-England Memorial,” recently republished, with notes and an ample appendix, by the Hon. Judge Davis, of Boston.268

    At the same meeting of this Society I communicated a paper in support of the statement in my introduction to the facsimile reprint of the New England’s Memorial, published by the Club of Odd Volumes in 1903,269 that there was no edition of the New England’s Memorial between 1772 and 1826. I called attention to an agreement made by a Committee of the First Church in Plymouth with Joseph Avery, a Plymouth bookseller, dated the “Eighth day February A.D. 1814,” and suggested that Mr. Flint had been informed, either by the Committee or Mr. Avery, of this Agreement for the publication of an edition of the New England’s Memorial.270

    I recently received from Mr. Albert Thorndike a number of papers from the collection of Judge John Davis, and among them was a letter to Judge Davis from Nahum Mitchell, the historian of Bridgewater and a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society from 1818 to 1853.271 The letter is dated “Bridgewater, 26 Feb. 1816,” the year of the publication of Mr. Flint’s Discourse. In that letter Mr. Mitchell writes:

    Mr. Flint’s apology for saying anything about the publication of the Memorial is that your Brother William requested him to do it and whatever is said he received from him. Mr. Flint is very sorry that he said anything about it.

    “Brother William,” therein referred to, was William Davis of Plymouth (1758–1826), an older brother of Judge Davis and a man of influence and importance in Plymouth. He had been a Selectman, Representative in the General Court, a member of the Executive Council, and President of the Plymouth Bank.272 Mr. Flint had what he was justified in believing to be excellent authority for the statement in his note, which apparently disturbed Judge Davis, and I am glad to have this opportunity to withdraw any reflection which I may have made previously upon the Committee of the First Church and the bookseller, Joseph Avery.273

    The agreement between the Committee and Avery, to which I have referred, was executed in duplicate, one original for the Committee, the other for Mr. Avery.274 Among those papers which came to me from Mr. Thorndike I found, to my surprise and gratification, the original agreement which belonged to Joseph Avery. This bears the following endorsement —

    Plymo October 8–1822. The within contract is assigned to John Davis of Boston Esq. in settlement with him this day relative to the printing of the New England Memorial.

    Witness Mary H. Thaxter

    Sarah Avery

    Francis Thaxter

    Administrators of the Estate of Joseph Avery decd.

    Judge Davis apparently thought it necessary or desirable to secure all existing rights in the publication of the New England’s Memorial, which Mr. Avery had obtained under his agreement with the Committee of the First Church.

    The agreement with the First Church which Avery made gave him no rights in the New England’s Memorial. That publication was public property which anybody had the right to reprint. The agreement did give him the necessary permission to print, as therein stated, “a valuable Tract by the same Author composed in the year 1680 & which had never been printed. This Tract composes part of the first volume of the records of the first church in Plymouth, it was intended to supply many ommissions in the Memorial & was compiled principally from the Manuscripts of Governor Bradford.” This “Tract,” however, Judge Davis did not print in his Appendix to his edition.

    The assignment to Judge Davis by the administrators of Joseph Avery suggested an inquiry which was fruitful in results. Avery died in Plymouth on August 4, 1822, and his wife Sarah Avery was appointed administratrix of his estate August 12, 1822.275 In the Probate Office files is found an inventory of Joseph Avery’s estate which includes among other property an itemized list of books in his Plymouth bookstore. The number of volumes and the variety of titles in a bookstore in a town of less than 5,000 inhabitants is interesting and surprising.

    156 Bibles.

    130 Vol. Law Books

    837 Vol. Divinity

    143 Physics & Surgery

    683 History

    570 Vol. Murrays reader and Gramr.

    136 Morse’s Geography

    344 Flavel on the heart, etc.

    222 Cooper’s History

    1 Set Rees Cyclopedia

    17 Vol. Massatts. Reports

    4950 Vol. Miscellaneous &c.

    180 Doz. Toy & children’s books

    and lastly, and of most importance to our inquiry —

    2500 Vols. New England Memorial in sheets @ 50 — 1250.00

    Judge Davis in the Preface to his edition says —

    Before the completion of his labors, which have been often interrupted, and for long intervals suspended, another edition of the Memorial and Mr. Cotton’s supplement has appeared, printed at Plymouth, by Allen Danforth, in a duodecimo volume, so that this enlarged edition, which, it was expected, would have been the fourth, is denominated the fifth.

    Allen Danforth was born in Taunton on the 18th of January, 1796, and came to Plymouth in 1822 and established a weekly newspaper called The Old Colony Memorial, the first number of which was issued to 223 subscribers on May 4, 1822, three months before Mr. Avery died.276 I venture to suggest that this fourth edition of Morton’s history, published by Allen Danforth, explains what became of the 2500 volumes in sheets, listed in the inventory of Avery’s estate and appraised at $1250.00.

    The appearance of Danforth’s edition in 1826, just before the publication in the same year of Judge Davis’s work, undoubtedly interfered with the sale of the latter, for, in 1833, as stated in my former communication, neither Dr. Thacher, the librarian, nor Judge Davis could see any prospect of disposing of the copies of the fifth edition, which the Pilgrim Society had for sale.277

    The discovery of the Mitchell letter and the Avery agreement, both written more than a century ago, is something more than a “trifle of antiquarianism,” for they serve to complete the communication which I made here ten years ago, and make it possible to trace in some detail the story of the fourth and fifth editions of Morton’s New England’s Memorial.

    This story may now be summed up briefly as follows. The third edition of Morton was published at Newport in 1772. No other edition was projected, so far as can be discovered, until 1802. On October 11 of that year John Davis wrote to the Rev. James Kendall, mentioning his intention to republish the Memorial, and asking permission to reprint part of the first volume of the Plymouth Church Records as an “appendage.” In the same letter he agreed that the profits of the book should go to aid the Church. Ten days later the parish voted to help in Davis’s project. In December there were published “Proposals,” asking subscriptions to the new edition of Morton. These appeared in a broadside and also in advertisements in various periodicals. Nothing further was done, however, until 1814, when a committee of the Church entered into an agreement with Joseph Avery, the bookseller, giving the latter the right to print and publish the new edition. In 1815 the Rev. James Flint, speaking on the authority of William Davis, announced the publication of the work, apologizing later for having done so, inasmuch as John Davis was disturbed at this public proclamation of the appearance of a book which was not yet issued. Avery died in 1822, and the administrators of his estate assigned to John Davis the contract made by the bookseller with the Committee of the Church, so that Davis now acquired all the rights of publication formerly held by Avery. It appears from Avery’s inventory, however, that he had already printed the Memorial, and left in his stock 2500 volumes of it in sheets. In 1826 Allen Danforth published the fourth edition of the Memorial, and in view of the evidence presented in this paper, it seems probable that this edition was made up of the 2500 copies formerly printed by Avery. Therefore, when Judge Davis’s edition finally appeared, later in 1826, it was the fifth and not the fourth edition, and his statement in his preface, so describing it, together with the other facts revealed by the documents just discussed, makes it abundantly clear that there was, as I stated in 1903, no edition of the Memorial between the Newport one of 1772 and that of Danforth in 1826. The references to a new edition, occurring between 1772 and 1826, seem all to apply to Davis’s work, and only Danforth’s use of Avery’s printed sheets prevented Davis’s edition, when it came out at last, from being the fourth republication of Morton’s New England’s Memorial instead of the fifth.

    Mr. Benjamin Loring Young spoke on “The Portraits of Colonial and Provincial Governors at the Massachusetts State House,” emphasizing particularly the progress made during the last four years in completing the collection of these portraits in the possession of the Commonwealth. Of the forty-five governors from 1780 to 1925, forty-three are represented by oil paintings at the State House, and portraits of Governors Coolidge and Cox will soon be added to complete the series. As to the colonial and provincial governors, there were in 1921 at the State House but nine paintings of these men. Since 1921 the collection has been increased by the addition of paintings of Edward Winslow, Josiah Winslow, William Stoughton, Sir Edmund Andros, and by two portraits of Jonathan Belcher.

    It is probable that no portraits exist of Carver, Bradford, Prince, Hinckley, Cradock, Thomas Dudley, Haynes, Sir William Phips, Tailer, Shute, and Spencer Phips. A portrait of Bellingham is said to exist, and paintings of the other governors are believed to be extant. In 1924 the General Court granted adequate appropriations to the Art Commission of Massachusetts to enable them to procure copies of these, and it is hoped that during the current year there may be received at the State House portraits of Vane, Bernard, Shirley, and Pownall. Plans are also being made for procuring a portrait of Richard Coote, Earl of Bellomont.

    The success of the attempt to secure a series of portraits of Massachusetts governors, complete so far as it is possible to make it, is due not only to the wise provisions made by the General Court for this purpose but also to the generosity of individuals and patriotic societies. In order that the work may be carried to a conclusion, continued coöperation of this sort is much to be desired.

    Mr. Young called attention to House Document No. 1832, of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is A Record of the Portraits, Busts, Statues, Bas-Reliefs and Tablets in or about the State House, Boston, compiled by Ellen Mudge Burrill, and dated February 29, 1924.278

    At the conclusion of Mr. Young’s remarks, President Robinson spoke briefly, assuring the speaker of the interest of the members of the Society in the undertaking he had discussed.