Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Couple of Noteworthy Historical Events Today

June 17th has a couple of historical events associated with it and I thought it would be good to mention them today.

On this day in 1885, the dismantled Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of America, arrives in New York Harbor after being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in 350 individual pieces packed in more than 200 cases. The copper and iron statue, which was reassembled and dedicated the following year in a ceremony presided over by U.S. President Grover Cleveland, became known around the world as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy. I made a point of taking the ferry from Battery Park and visiting the Statue of Liberty on a visit to New York. It is was a cold and rainy day so I pretty much had the ferry and the statue to myself. It was impressive -much more impressive than in the many, many pictures we see of it. This 151′1″ tall Statue of Liberty, stands on an 89 feet tall pedestal (made of concrete and granite) and 65 feet tall; eleven-point, star-shaped courtyard foundation. The Statue of Liberty bears semblance to Libertas, an ancient Roman goddess of freedom from slavery and tyranny. However, the sculptor modeled the statue's face after his mother's. Lady Liberty's face is more than 8 feet tall.

The Battle of Bunker Hill

Also associated with this date was the Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolution. British General William Howe landed his troops on the Charlestown Peninsula overlooking Boston, Massachusetts, and sent them against Breed's Hill, a fortified American position just below Bunker Hill.

As the British advanced in columns against the Americans, American General William Prescott reportedly told his men, "Don't one of you fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" When the Redcoats were within 40 yards, the Americans let loose with a lethal barrage of musket fire, throwing the British into retreat. After reforming his lines, Howe attacked again, with much the same result. Prescott's men were now low on ammunition, though, and when Howe led his men up the hill for a third time, they reached the redoubts and engaged the Americans in hand-to-hand combat. The outnumbered Americans were forced to retreat. However, by the end of the engagement, the Patriots' gunfire had cut down nearly 1,000 enemy troops, including 92 officers. Of the 370 Patriots who fell, most were struck while in retreat.

The British had won the so-called Battle of Bunker Hill, and Breed's Hill and the Charlestown Peninsula fell firmly under British control. Despite losing their strategic positions, the battle was a morale-builder for the Americans, convincing them that patriotic dedication could overcome superior British military might.

The British entered the Battle of Bunker Hill overconfident. Had they merely guarded Charlestown Neck, they could have isolated the Patriots with little loss of life. Instead, Howe had chosen to try to wipe out the Yankees by marching 2,400 men into a frontal assault on the Patriots' well-defended position on top of the hill. The British would not make the same mistake again but they did continue to be over-confident and underestimate the fierceness of the Patriots resolve to resist English tyranny. 

Live Long and Prosper....

No comments: