George Washington had been commander-in-chief for less than a week when the Battle of Bunker Hill took place. In fact, the battle did not take place on Bunker Hill at all, it was fought on Breeds Hill.
The Battle of Bunker Hill took place on June 17, 1775, during the Siege of Boston
As said, George Washington had just been elected commander-in-chief of the revolutionary army. The patriots were in control of all the hills surrounding Boston. It was then that General Washington received news from a spy that the British army intended to attack Bunker Hill within the week.
The Battle of Bunker Hill as painted by John Trumbull (d. 1843)
Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, uploaded by Okedem
I am sure you can imagine how disturbing this news must have been to a new general. But, good ol' George, he knew what to do. He sent an army of men over to Breeds Hill, which was closer to Boston. He ordered them to dig out trenches and set up forts to defend what was theirs.
On the morning of June 17, 1775, the British General Howe woke with all his ships perfectly positioned on the water. He prepared his troops, and they began the trudge up Bunker Hill. When there was not a person in sight on Bunker Hill, so they proceeded to Breeds Hill.
As you can see from this old map, Bunker Hill and Breeds Hill were surrounded by water. I have optimized the map for readability at this size, but Wikimedia Commons has a much larger version. Public domain image from the U.S. Army.
"Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" The American colonel said.
When the British were close enough, the command was shouted and the bullets flew. British soldiers dropped like ants being sprayed with bug repellent, but they would not give up. After the first battalion, another came. Once again the patriots did not fire until they were close enough to see the whites of their eyes, and the British fell again.
But, upon the third battalion, the Americans were out of ammunition. They were forced to fight with only their bayonets. The British, having received more training, annihilated them. The Americans were forced to retreat, and give up the land to the British.
By the end of the battle, there were estimated to be 1,154 British casualties and 441 American casualties. As a result, the Battle of Bunker Hill, which really took place at Breeds Hill, is often reported as an American victory, when, in fact, it was a defeat.
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