Bunker Hill dead may lie under gardens
The sloping path of modern Concord Street was a small corner of hell on the sunny afternoon of June 17, 1775, when the British launched a third, desperate assault against an entrenched force of determined, deadly American marksmen
As Charlestown burned behind them, grenadiers feinted toward rebels gathered near the Mystic River, wheeled left, and stormed uphill against colonists holding the extreme left flank of a hastily erected breastwork.
The fighting there was among the most vicious of the battle. The thrust of bayonets sent Americans to their deaths. Redcoats were shot at close, confusing range.
And gunstocks suddenly became clubs in the hands of overwhelmed rebels who were running out of ammunition.
Many of the British killed at the spot, Goldstein believes, were thrown into the entrenchment by burial details who used the ditch as a ready-made grave.
From the redoubt near today's monument, to the banks of the Mystic River, to the town that was destroyed before the horrified rebel army, the Battle of Bunker Hill pushed the colonies over the precipice and into a long, protracted, bloody war for independence.
The British, many of whom were veterans of European battles, suffered 226 killed and more than 800 wounded in their greatest losses of the war.
One-quarter of all the British officers killed during the Revolution were slain in the battle.
By contrast, about 140 Americans were killed and 300 wounded, many of them on the retreat to Cambridge after the rebels had exhausted their ammunition.
"The Americans saw they could really hurt the British," Goldstein said. "They realized the British Army was not a collection of automatons that couldn't be stopped. The American cause got a lot of confidence at the cost of some relatively unimportant real estate."
The decision whether to dig for remains would be at the discretion of the property owner, said Brian McNiff, spokesman for Secretary of State William F. Galvin.