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On the evening of 16 June 1775, Connecticut militiamen under the command of General Israel Putnam hastily constructed redoubts and breastworks on the summit of Breed's Hill. As dawn broke on the 17th, and the British discovered the newly constructed defenses, the guns on the five British ships in Boston Harbor began to fire on the redoubts. Despite the anxiety created by the bombardment, the uneasiness induced by the sound of the battle that had suddenly raged on the beach of the Mystic River, and the sheer excitement of the moment, Colonel Prescott ordered his troops to remain quiet and hidden behind the breastworks. The supply of ammunition was low and could not be wasted. In order to get the most effect from the ammunition they had, Prescott ordered the militiamen not to fire upon the British until they had reached a close enough distance where the whites of their eyes could be seen. Colonel Prescott told the men to "Then aim at their waistbands; and be sure to pick off the commanders, known by their handsome coats!"
"Battle of Bunker Hill" by Percy Moran
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
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