Battle of Bunker Hill

 17th June 1775


  Among those Sons of Liberty who rallied ‘round the flags of Liberty were large numbers of Irish.  Historian Michael J. O’Brien wrote of The Irish at the Battle of Bunker Hill (17 June 1775), most notably of Dr. Joseph Warren.  O’Brien also wrote of the Irish contribution to many other aspects of the achievement and defense of the Independence of the United States.  His research confirmed that the Irish in America, from Richard Montgomery, Anthony Wayne and John Sullivan, to Stephen Moylan, Daniel Morgan, Timothy Murphy and Hercules Mulligan, and to many who lie in unmarked Patriot graves, volunteered for the Patriot cause in greater proportion to their numbers in the population than probably any other group.  

 

“Don’t shoot ‘till you see the whites of their eyes!”

Bunker Hill

by Don Troiani

 

Here stand the raw American militia in the main redoubt at Breed's Hill as they are about to fire upon the seemingly endless advancing ranks of British regulars. The President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Dr. Joseph Warren is the senior officer present, here standing on the rampart, encouraging his fellow Patriots throughout the battle.  Warren would be killed during the third and final assault, after the defenders’ ammunition had begun to run out.  Colonel Prescott stands on the works with his sword ready to give the famous command that would reshape American history forever.

United in the face of a common enemy (1775/76), the American Patriots soon realized that the success of their defense of Liberty would require the putting aside of many old differences; in State after State freedom of conscience in worship and in speech replaced old laws and practices regarding the establishment of religion.  Americans in every State were determined that an alien government should not have the opportunity to foster differences which had divided a minority from the majority in the past (as, in fact, the English would attempt during the course of the conflict).  These freedoms would later be enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America, under the First Amendment (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  American “Bill of Rights” – Ratified 15 December 1791). 

 The words of the American Declaration of Independence, 4th of July 1776, which should be music to the ears of decent men everywhere, were particularly sweet to the Irish, for whom the experience of tyranny had been first-hand in their homeland.  [In part: “…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.  That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness….”


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