Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes

14 October 2020

The Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought on nearby Breed’s Hill. Why the battle is called Bunker Hill is anyone’s guess. 

However, it was the first major battle of the American Revolution, fought on the Charlestown Peninsula, just across the harbour from Boston.

“This is a battle that has fascinated me over the years,” writes Peter Riley in the introduction to the new Rules book that can now be purchased at our bookstore.

“I have designed and played the battle in my mind any number of times, but it was a bit of a challenge getting a version for the table as I wanted the game to show the bravery and doggedness of the British against the emerging abilities of the fledgling American rebels.”

The battle also mythologised the alleged command from Colonel William Prescott to the American troops that they were not to fire “until you see the whites of their eyes”.

However, the command was more likely to have been: “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their half-gaiters.”

The game is played on a board that shows the Charlestown Peninsula, with a small neck of land at one end and several hills - one with an earthen redoubt facing Boston called Breed’s Hill and one facing the neck, called Bunker Hill.

Each side has a unique set of problems and the players must face the problems the leaders of the actual battle had to overcome. 

The British, led by Major General Howe, must seize the peninsula from 2,000 American troops from Massachusetts along with a force from Connecticut that were busily fortifying their positions on Breed’s Hill.

And this would be the first battle of the semi-trained American Continental Army who would fight aggressively but emerged from the battle with a much better understanding of what it would take to become a successful army.

The printed book and downloadable pdf  can be bought from our bookstore include the Rules for the wargame, Orders of Battle, a Playsheet, Battle Briefing and map of the board to play the game on.