Bunker Hill Monument - Boston National Historical Park

Audio Available:

OVERVIEW: About this audio-described brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of the Bunker Hill Monument brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of historical maps, historical paintings, portraits, a contemporary color photograph, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that a visitor to the Bunker Hill Monument receives. The brochure explores the history of the site and the meaning of the battle today. This audio version lasts about 12 minutes which we have divided into 5 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections 1 and 2 cover the front of the brochure and include information regarding the growing dissent which led to the battle. Sections 1 to 3 cover the back of the brochure and include information on the battle and its meaning today.

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OVERVIEW: Bunker Hill Monument - Boston National Historical Park

The Bunker Hill Monument is a unit of Boston National Historical Park, which itself is part of the National Park Service, within the Department of the Interior. The 5 acre site is situated about 2 miles north of downtown Boston. The monument was built by the Bunker Hill Monument Association, completed in 1842 and dedicated the following year. The Bunker Hill Monument Association maintained the monument and grounds until 1919, when it was turned over to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The National Park Service acquired it in 1976.

Each year more than 350,000 visitors come to enjoy the unique experiences that only can be found at the Bunker Hill Monument. We invite you feel the granite stones that make up the monument, climb the 294 steps to an observation room, listen to an interpretive talk about the battle and smell the gunpowder smoke after a musket demonstration. At the museum across the street from the monument enjoy listening to a narrated audio map presentation about the battle.

To find out more about what resources might be available or to contact the park directly, visit the “Accessibility” and “More information” sections at the end of this audio-described brochure.

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OVERVIEW: Front side of brochure

The front of the brochure includes a copy of the 1785 painting of the battle, a portrait of Joseph Warren and an historic map of the Charlestown penninsula.

The text tells the story of the growing dissent that led up to the battle.

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IMAGE and TEXT: Bunker Hill Monument

Painting of the Burning of Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill. The painting shows the town of Boston's North End on the left  and across the river, the peninsula of Charlestown. Smoke from Copp's Hill in the North End shows that British artillery firing on the village of Charlestown. Four British warships in the foreground of the image are landing troops on the peninsula of Charlestown while the village burns.

CREDIT: National Gallery of Art

RELATED TEXT: On the morning of June 17, 1775, no one could have imagined the outcome of events later that day in Charlestown, MA. That afternoon, New England provincials, subjects of the king, stood up to the mighty British army for the first time in pitched battle. They repulsed two assaults before retreating during a third attack. What would cause countrymen to fight one another, risking their lives and all they held dear?

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IMAGES and TEXT: Growing Dissent

IMAGE 1 of 2: Dr. Joseph Warren

DESCRIPTION: Painted portrait of a light skinned, rounded faced man who is looking forward. He is rather well dressed with a white lapelled jacket. Under which he is wearing  a decorative 18th century ruffled shirt with a high collar His hair is curly on the top and sides and he appears to be balding. 

CAPTION: Dr. Joseph Warren

CREDIT: John Singleton Copley, Adams National Historic Park

IMAGE 2 of 2: Map of Charlestown

DESCRIPTION: A brown and green tinted topographical map of the Charlestown peninsula showing a plan of the action at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. The map shows the entire peninsula with the locations of fortifications and land features such as fences or walls, hills and roads. Overlaid this are lines showing troop movements and trajectories of cannon fire from ships and rafts.

CAPTION: Map of Charlestown by Lt. Sir Thomas Hyde Page showing the troop movements and fortifications. 

CREDIT: Lt. Sir Thomas Hyde

RELATED TEXT: For nearly twelve years, a growing discontent had been brewing among many colonists. Following the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War), new taxes on sugar and other goods had been imposed on the colonists in order to help pay down the British government’s huge debt from the war. While some people had little objection to these minor taxes, others declared them unfair, principally because they had no input. “Taxation without representation is tyranny,” became the rallying cry of side. Before long, some ten to fifteen thousand colonists had surrounded Boston, and General the Patriots, as they called themselves. Many colonists felt that their rights as Englishmen had been abused. In Boston, these taxes gave rise to protests, boycotts, and destruction of personal property. The resentment over the despised tea tax would lead colonists to dump over 342 chests of tea, valued at over $1 million in today’s currency, into Boston Harbor on December 16, 1773.

Parliament reacted swiftly to the Boston Tea Party. A series of punitive measures were passed. Soldiers and sailors were sent to Boston to enforce a blockade of the harbor. Martial law was established, when British general Thomas Gage replaced the civilian royal governor Thomas Hutchinson. Most important of all, town meetings were outlawed, except to elect representatives and petty officials. The colonists retaliated by creating a parallel government, the Provincial Congress, that met in Watertown, outside Boston. Realizing the potential for British troops to assert their authority beyond Boston, militia groups, called minutemen, began training with a set purpose in mind. The stage was set for armed conflict.

The royal military authorities were under orders to crush this “most unnatural rebellion.” This action came to a head at Lexington, Concord and then Menotomy (now Arlington) in April of 1775, when local militias confronted British troops that had marched out from Boston. The armed conflict that became the American Revolution had begun. 

 Following these skirmishes, the rebel Committee of Safety asked the men of Massachusetts to “immediately raise an army...and send them to headquarters at Cambridge….” In a few short weeks, men from not only Massachusetts, but also Connecticut and New Hampshire, arrived to lay siege to Boston. Farmers, tradespeople and merchants, from every level of society, came by the hundreds. Men as diverse as prominent physician and political organizer Joseph Warren and former slave Salem Poor came to fight side by side. Before long, some ten to fifteen thousand colonists had surrounded Boston, and General Gage found his army encircled. 

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OVERVIEW: Back side of brochure

Side 2 of the brochure is divided into 3 sections. The first section contains text that tells the story of the battle. In this section is a cropped image of General William Howe in uniform taken from a large paint of him. 

 The second section describes the reaction many had after the battle. This section contains quotes from people at the time.

The third section describes the efforts to commemorate the battle and its meaning today. This section has a contemporary image of the monument and the grounds

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IMAGE and TEXT: Decisive Day

DESCRIPTION: Close up of a portrait painting of General William Howe in full military uniform. He is standing with his right elbow resting on a stone wall, looking to his left. His gloved left  hand is resting on his hip. The uniform jacket is bright scarlet with Prussian blue lapels and gold trim. On his right shoulder is a gold epaulet. On his left breast is a white rosette star. Under the jacket he is wearing a white high collared shirt with a black neck scarf. over that is a tan vest with decorative gold piping. A purple sash is draped across his body from his right shoulder to his left hip and around his neck hangs a gold metal crescent shaped neck piece or gorget. 

CAPTION: General William Howe

CREDIT: Yale Center for British Art

RELATED TEXT: Before it was known that they would be desperately needed, King George III sent three of the best available generals to Boston to assist Gage. When William Howe, John Burgoyne and Henry Clinton arrived on May 25, 1775, they found this prolonged situation incredible and intolerable.

Maps were reviewed and it became apparent that the hills of Charlestown and Dorchester Neck would have to be seized and fortified to break this siege and regain control over the rebellious New England colonies. A plan was quickly drawn up to do so. The Committee of Safety discovered this plan, and gave orders to foil the British army by seizing and fortifying the heights of Charlestown. Late in the evening of June 16, 1775, William Prescott passed over Bunker Hill and led 1,200 men to Breed’s Hill and, under the direction of Richard Gridley, built an earthen fort there.

By morning, this hastily built dirt redoubt was visible from downtown Boston, where surprised British sentries observed what they thought to be impossible—a fort had been built overnight! After making preparations for the attack, the powerful King’s army landed on the shores of Charlestown in the early afternoon of June 17. As the regulars formed for battle, snipers in the town began to fire at them. To avoid further harassment, the army set the town on fire. With this spectacular blaze as a backdrop, the battle began. The first two attacks were disastrous for the British army, which expected little or no resistance from mostly inexperienced militia men. These men, along with Marine reinforcements, made a surge up the hill in a third and final assault. With fixed bayonets they scaled and entered the fort. The colonists fought back as long as they could, but had exhausted their ammunition, and could not counter this powerful bayonet charge. By 5:30 pm, the colonists had been pushed off the hill, and the British army had won.

Loyalist Ann Hulton had observed the carnage from a rooftop in Boston. Just days after the battle she wrote to a friend in England, “In the evening the streets were filled with the wounded and the dying; the sight of which, with the lamentations of the women and children over their husbands and fathers, pierced one to the soul.”

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TEXT: The Turning Point

 “A hill too dearly bought,” lamented General Clinton. Although the British army won this battle, more than 1,000 of its 2,200 men were either killed or wounded. General Gage wrote, “The loss we have sustained is greater than we can bear.” The colonists realized that they had fought one of the finest armies in the world and turned them back twice. Abigail Adams, who could see the battle smoke from her home in Braintree, would write to her husband, John, “The day, perhaps the decisive day has come, on which the fate of America depends.” This pivotal event would mean little chance for reconciliation with Great Britain, and the beginning of a war that would last another eight years.

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IMAGE and TEXT: "A Monitor to the Present"

DESCRIPTION: The viewer of this color photograph sits slightly above the scene, as if on a rooftop looking over a grassy park with a tall gray obelisk standing in the middle of the park. Radiating from the 4 sides of the monument are paved walkway which end at another paved walkway

 A color photograph of a tall gray granite obelisk standing in the middle of a landscaped park which is located on top of a hill. To the right of the obelisk is a gray granite building resembling a Grecian temple with tall columns guarding the entrance.  Behind the monument is a four story granite apartment building. The grounds of the park is a mowed lawn with bare patches throughout and the lawn is divided by paved walkways that run the circumference of the top of the hill. Street lights are placed at various locations along this pathway. From the edges of the park running to the monument in the center are paved walkways the divide the park into quarters. Surrounding the park and monument are red bricked townhouses.

CAPTION: Bunker Hill Monument today.


RELATED TEXT: In the years following the battle, the hill became sacred ground, though for years it had no official recognition. Individuals interested in our nation’s founding made the pilgrimage to the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. In 1794, the first monument to be erected at this site honored Joseph Warren, a key Boston leader in the American Revolution, and a victim of the battle. By the early 1800s, it was felt that a monument should be built to honor all the men who fought here. The Bunker Hill Monument Association solicited funds from the public to be raised for this purpose, and in 1825 the cornerstone was laid for the Bunker Hill Monument. By 1840, the granite obelisk was little more than half complete, prompting action from Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. She, along with other prominent Boston women, planned a fair and bake sale to be held in the fall of that same year. The fair, which lasted for eight days, raised over $30,000, a significant sum at the time. With the help of two philanthropists, Amos Lawrence, and Judah Touro, who each contributed $10,000, the monument was completed just three years later. The monument was dedicated on the anniversary of the battle in 1843, with over 100,000 people in attendance, including President of the United States John Tyler, and veterans of the battle. Statesman and orator Daniel Webster spoke that day, asserting that the “monument stands a memorial of the past, a monitor to the present, and to all succeeding generations.” 

Through the years, the monument has been embraced as a symbol of the times. Countless scores of people have come to the monument to learn of the events that took place here, and to ponder the meanings behind the monument. Its enduring legacy remains, reminding us of those who struggled to control their own destiny, and were willing to sacrifice and fight for their individual and collective rights.

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OVERVIEW: Accessibility

The lodge next to the Bunker Hill Monument and the museum across the street are accessible to all. The historic monument is only accessible at the base and by walking the 294 steps to the top. Wheel chairs may be borrowed, free of charge, for single day use at the Navy Yard Visitor Center They are available on a first come first served basis. Visitors are required to leave a driver’s license as a deposit, and wheelchairs must be returned to the Visitor center from which they were borrowed prior to the end of the day.

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OVERVIEW: More information

The Bunker Hill Monument is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities, visit www.nps.gov.

PHONE: (617) 242-5601

WEBSITE: https://www.nps.gov/bost/planyourvisit/bhm.htm

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