A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Battle of “Bunker” Hill loss petitions I had been cataloging in my files. I’ve also been doing newspaper searches to add more information by date to that folder and I ended up with 27,000 hits to go through. Two weeks later, I’m just under halfway through them all. Amongst the many articles is some really interesting information. 

In many of the obituaries, the soldier is mentioned as “one of the last in the redoubt” and some “the last man in the redoubt”. Here’s an obit from Jedediah Amidon from Ashford, Ct. that has some information that can’t be verified but interesting “Capt. Amidon was in bunker hill Battle, and the last man of the American army who left the ground. Not understanding the order to retreat, he found himself surrounded by the British. Being a stout, athletic man, he warded off the enemy with the but [sic] of his gun while retreating backward, until he had nearly reached the enclosure, when, stumbling against the dead or wounded, he fell, but soon recovering, he threw himself over the board fence, amid the whistling of the balls of the enemy. After lying a few moments to take a breath, the enemy supposing him slain, he sprang upon his feet and ran to the camp, picking up on his was a silver mounted gun, dropped by an officer who was killed in the retreat.” I would love to have seen the silver-mounted gun he mentions!

The obituary for Rufus Dewey of Westfield, Ma. mentions: “At the battle of Bunker Hill, he maintained the ground near the rail fence, until he had fired 13 of the 17 cartridges he carried into the field.” If this recollection is correct, it could add to the information that many of the cartridge boxes which were being issued held 17 rounds although the specification was for 19. Examples of cartridge boxes with both hole counts survive.

Some of the articles mention horrible wounds, including this one. Mr. Ward “was at the battle of Bunker Hill, and one of the last to leave the entrenchments. When loading his piece, a ball struck his elbow and was extracted from the arm pit.” In April 1820, another Bunker Hill veteran had an interesting reminder of the battle: “Mr. Jonathan Knowlton, of Gloucester, has a ball drop from out his back last week that he had received on his retreat from Bunker Hill battle.”

Other soldiers had ammunition fired during the brutal battle in their body for the rest of their lives. Sylvanus Snow passed away at 97 years old and: “He served several campaigns in the French war; and through nearly the whole of thezwar of the Revolution. He was engaged in 14 different battles, in all of which he was but once wounded, and that was at Bunker Hill, and the ball which he then received, has been carried in his body to the grave.” 

I still have thousands of newspaper articles to go through and catalog and I’m sure there will be many more interesting reminiscences to share.

treasures, Bunker, newspapers


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