Prescott, William

Prescott, William (1726-1795) Officer: Prescott inherited a large estate and resided in Pepperell, Massachusetts. In 1755, he served as a lieutenant and captain in the provincial armny under General John Winslow in an expedition against Nova Scotia. His success in that campaign attracted Winslow's attention, and he offered Prescott a commission in the regular army. Prescott declined and retired to his estate after the war. In 1774, he was appointed to command a regiment of minutemen, with which he marched to Lexington to oppose British General Gage's forces. Before Prescott arrived at Lexington, however, the British had retreated, so he joined the provincial army in Cambridge. In 1775, he was sent to Charlestown with 1,000 men, and procedeed to see action at the Battle of Bunker Hill, actually fought on Breed's Hill. An advisor of General Gates said of him, "that is Col. Prescott - he is an old soldier, and will fight as long as a drop of blood remains in his veins." During the course of the battle, Prescott reportedly shouted to the Continental troops, "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." After the battle, which ended with a British victory with heavy casualties, Prescott returned to his estate. He became a representative in the Massachusetts legislature and served for several years. A statue of Prescott was erected on Bunker Hill in 1881.