Battle of Bunker Hill APUSH Study Guide

June 17, 1775

The Battle of Bunker Hill was the first major battle of the American Revolutionary War and the first turning point. This study guide provides a quick overview for students and teachers who are preparing for the AP US History exam.

Battle of Bunker Hill, 1775, Death of Warren, Trumbull, Yale

This painting by John Trumbull depicts the death of General Joseph Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill.  Image Source: Yale University Art Gallery.

Battle of Bunker Hill Definition

The definition of the Battle of Bunker Hill for APUSH is the first major battle of the American Revolutionary War. It happened on June 17, 1775. After the Americans built a small fort on Breed’s Hill, the British attacked. The British suffered heavy casualties but won the violent battle. Despite the loss, the Americans gained confidence. Dr. Joseph Warren, a prominent American political and military leader, was killed during the battle. It was the first major battle of the American Revolutionary War.

Quick Facts

  • Date — The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on Saturday, June 17, 1775.
  • Location — The battle took place on and around Breed’s Hill on the Charlestown Peninsula, near Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Opponents — The United Colonies and Great Britain.
  • American CommandersWilliam Prescott, Israel Putnam, John Stark, and Joseph Warren.
  • British Commanders — William Howe, Thomas Gage, Robert Pigot, James Abercrombie, Henry Clinton, John Pitcairn, and Samuel Graves.
  • Winner — Great Britain won the Battle of Bunker Hill.
  • Campaign — Boston Campaign and the Siege of Boston.

Overview

  • On the night of June 16, American soldiers were sent onto the Charlestown Peninsula, north of Boston, to occupy Bunker Hill, but for reasons that are not entirely clear, they constructed their fortifications on neighboring Breed’s Hill.
  • Rather than laying siege to the American forces on the peninsula by sealing off the neck, the British command opted for a frontal assault on Breed’s Hill on June 17, 1775.
  • Following two failed assaults that resulted in heavy losses, the British overran the American fortification on a third attempt after British reinforcements arrived and the Americans ran low on ammunition.
  • After overrunning the fortifications on Breed’s Hill, the British inflicted heavy damage on the Americans as they fled the Charlestown Peninsula.

APUSH Significance

The Battle of Bunker Hill is important to the APUSH curriculum because it was the first large battle of the American Revolutionary War. Before the battle, there was hope a peaceful resolution could be reached. Afterward, both American and British leaders realized the war was going to carry on for some time. This made it the first turning point of the war.

Video

This short video from the American Battlefield Trust provides a quick overview of the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Battle of Bunker Hill APUSH Resources

Use the following links and videos to study the Battle of Bunker Hill, the American Revolution, and the American Revolutionary War for the AP US History Exam. Also, be sure to look at our Guide to the AP US History Exam.

APUSH Units

The Battle of Bunker Hill is part of the following:

  • APUSH Unit 3: 1754–1800
  • APUSH Unit 3: Topic 3.5 — The American Revolution

Lesson Plans and Resources

American History Central Resources

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Battle of Bunker Hill APUSH Study Guide
  • Date June 17, 1775
  • Author
  • Keywords Battle of Bunker Hill APUSH
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 30, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 25, 2024

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