here’s no shortage of new revelations for the die-hard Battle of Bunker Hill enthusiast in a new book by Marc Stockwell-Moniz, including an updated death count and some insight into just how crazy – or foggy – the whole battle was on both sides.
Stockwell is a member of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, grew up in Revere, and his mother lived in Charlestown on High Street for nearly 30 years. In addition, he has at least two direct ancestors he found some years ago while in Charlestown that fought in the battle.
“I hired a genealogist at the time to find more information and in about two hours she came back with information that was so amazing to me,” he said, noting that was one key starting point in his research. “It actually really changed my life in a significant way.”
Now living in San Diego, Stockwell has authored a new book called ‘Fog On The Hill: General Gage, Here We Are Come Get Us.’ He said he began his interest as a kid reading about the battle, and then was engrossed in it when his mother lived in the shadow of the Monument on High Street. Finally, as an adult, he did extensive research and just put the book out in time for this year’s 246th commemoration.
One of the key findings for avid Bunker Hill fans is Stockwell believes he has found a revised American death count. While there are 153 American deaths listed in the history books and on the tablets at the Training Field, Stockwell said he has found in research three more deaths – making the count 156.
“I have updated the American death count that has stood since 1889 when the Bronze Memorial Tablets were placed at the Training Field in Charlestown 132 years ago,” he said. “These tablets proclaim 153 deaths and I say there were 156 deaths of Americans, either at the battle or who later died from their wounds. This is of course new information, but I searched and searched and lo-and-behold I found three more men.”
Another interesting tidbit he advances is the fact that Stockwell believes the battle was not on Bunker Hill (which we all know), and it was not on Breed’s Hill either – which is new.
“The thing that historians or people that like to think they’re in the know will say is it was fought on Breed’s Hill and not on Bunker Hill,” he said. “However, there was no such thing as Breed’s Hill when they built the redoubt. It was Russell’s Pasture or Green’s Pasture. Breeds land was further away than what is today Breed’s Hill. At the time, it wasn’t known as Breed’s Hill; it was just pasture land.”
Some of the biggest revelations in the book, however, are long and drawn out sketches of the fogginess of war – and particularly a war in 1775 between a mighty power like England and a rag-tag group of militias under differing commanders. He said after years and years of research, he came away thinking the Battle of Bunker Hill was a comedy of errors on both sides that contributed to the fogginess on the Hill.
From the British ignoring the warnings of Henry Clinton prior to June 17, to the haughtiness of the British to order soldiers up the Hill into incoming bullets – a suicide mission. Then on the American side, it was the insistence by Gen. Israel Putnam to build a second redoubt instead of concentrating on the battle, as well as the confusion in commandment – whereby New Hampshire soldiers wouldn’t take orders from a Connecticut officer. All of that, Stockwell said made him focus on that one word – Fog.
“There was this fog of war that began to cloud everyone’s judgement, especially the British and to an extent the Americans,” he said. “It was the old saying that the left hand had no idea what the right hand was doing. That was absolutely going on with the British and the Americans. It just became clear to me everything both sides were doing was crazy. They were flying by the seat of their pants. That’s when I started focusing in on it being the fog of war, which gave way to the title become ‘Fog on the Hill.’
“It was all really a comedy of errors,” he continued.
Stockwell said he does believe the Americans won the war, even though the British seemed to “carry the day.” However, he views it as a major blow to the British, and for the Americans, it was the moment of no return.
“It was the Battle of no return,” he said. “It was the battle where there was no going back to being a British subject. We will fight on and emerge as free people in a new nation, or we would we would be subjugated and become British subjects with no rights or freedoms.”
‘Fog on the Hill’ by Marc Stockwell-Moniz is available on Amazon.com.