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Today is 240th anniversary of Battle of Bunker Hill

Commemorative exercises were held at the Bunker Hill monument last year.David L Ryan/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

It might not be a big public holiday in Boston anymore, but people have still been remembering the Battle of Bunker Hill, one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War, in which the British defeated the Americans.

On June 17, 1775, two months after the battles of Lexington and Concord, about 2,200 British forces commanded by Major General William Howe and Brigadier General Robert Pigot marched up Breed's Hill in Charlestown.

The 1,000 Colonial men, commanded by Colonel William Prescott, were ordered, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes," to save the Americans' limited supply of ammunition.


More than 100 American soldiers died, and more than 300 were injured.

Even though the British won the battle, Americans haven't forgotten the day.

On Sunday, police officials, veterans, Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps units, and Revolutionary War reenactors, along with others, marched through the streets of Charlestown for the annual Bunker Hill Day Parade.

On Wednesday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh also seized on the 240th anniversary of the battle to announce that the Boston Housing Authority was soliciting proposals from developers to preserve and rebuild affordable housing at the Bunker Hill public housing developement.

Bunker Hill Day used to be a day on which city government offices would close, but in recent years the day off has been largely eliminated, along with Evacuation Day, which marks the evacuation of British troops from Boston in 1776 and happens to fall on St. Patrick's Day.

Rebecca Fiore can be reached at