Peter Brown to his Mother- Bunker Hill
Cambridge, June 28, 1777
Fridy the 16th of June we were ordered to parade at 6 o'clock with one day's provisions and blankets ready for a march somewhere, but we did not know where. So we readily and cheerfully obeyed, the whole that was called for, which was these three, Col. Prescotts, Frys and Nicksons regiments.... About 9 o'clock at night we marched down on to Charlestown Hill against Cox Hill in Boston where we entrenched, and made a fort of about ten rod long and eight wide, with a breast work of about 8 more. We worked there
undiscovered till about 5 in the morn and then we saw our danger, being against ~ ships of the line and all Boston fortified against us.
The danger we were in made us think there was treachery, and that we were brought there to be all slain, and I must and will venture to say that there was treachery, oversight or presumption in the conduct of our officers. And about half after 5 in the morn, we not having above half the fort done, they began to fire, I suppose as soon as they had orders, pretty briskly a few minutes, and then stops, and then again to the number of about 20 or more. They killed one of us, and then they ceased till about l o'clock and then they began pretty brisk again; and that caused some of our young country people to desert apprehending the danger in a clearer manner than the rest, who were more diligent in digging and fortifying ourselves against them. We began to be almost beat out, being tired by our labour and having no sleep the night before, but little victuals, no drink but rum....
They fired very earm [warm] from Boston and from on board till about 2 o'clock, when they began to fire from the ships in ferry way, and from the ship that lay in the river against the Neck to stop our reinforcements, which the~- did in some measure. One cannon cut off 3 men in two on the neck of land Our officers sent time after time after the cannons from Cambridge in the morning and could get but four, the captain of which fired but a few times and then swan" his hat round three times to the enemy, then ceased to fire. It being about 3 o'clock, there was a little cessation of the cannons roaring. Come to look, there was a matter of 4o barges full of Regulars coming over to us: it is supposed there were about 3ooo of them and about 7oo of us left not deserted, besides soo reinforcements that could not get so night [nigh] to us as to do any good hardly till the[y] saw that we must all be cut off, or some of them, and then they advanced. When our officers saw that the Regulars would land, they ordered the artillery to go out of the fort and prevent their landing if possible7 from which the artillery captain took his pieces and went right off home to Cambridge fast as he could, for which he is now confined and we expect will be shot for it.
But the enemy landed and fronted before us and formed themselves in an oblong square, so as to surround us, which they did in part, and after they were well formed they advanced towards us in order to swallow us up, but they found a choaky mouthful of us, tho' we could do nothing with our small arms as yet for distance, and had but two cannon and nary gunner. And they from Boston and from the ships a-firing and throwing bombs keeping us down till they got almost round us. But God in mercy to us fought our battle for us and altho' we were but few and so were suffered to be defeated by them, we were preserved in a most wonderful manner far beyond expectation, to admiration, for out of our regiment there was about 37 killed, 4 or 5 taken captive, and about 47 wounded....
If we should be called into action again I hope to have courage and strength to act my part valiantly in defense of our liberties and our country, trusting in him who hath yet kept me and hath covered my head in the day of battle, and tho' we have lost 4 of our company and our Lieutenant's thigh broke and he taken captive by the cruel enemies of America, I was not suffered to be touched altho' I was in the fort till the Regulars came in and I jumped over the walls, and ran for about half a mile where balls flew like hailstones and cannons roared like thunder.
Your dutiful Son