Boston and the Freedom Trail- A Walking Tour (Part V)

Leaving the Old North Church follow Hull Street toward Charlestown. About a block from the church you will be at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.

Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

Founded in 1659, it was the largest cemetery in the Colonies at that time. Copp’s Hill is the final resting place for two puritan ministers that were involved with the Salem Witch trials. Also buried here is Robert Newman, the Sexton of the Old North Church, who is believed to have been the one that hung the lanterns for Paul Revere in the church’s steeple. Edmund Hartt the builder of the USS Constitution also lays at rest here. In Copp’s Hill Burying Ground it is believed that close to 1,000 free African-Americans are buried there, one of which is Prince Hall who formed the countries first Black Masons Lodge and was instrumental in ending slavery in the Bay State. During the battle of Bunker Hill, because of its height, Copp’s Hill was used by the Red Coats to train their cannon on Charlestown.

Continue on Hull Street to Commercial Street, turn left and head over to and across the Charlestown Bridge. Once you are across turn right along Constitution Road toward the tail ship docked at the Boston Navel Shipyard- The USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides.”

Old Ironsides

USS Constitution
USS Constitution


The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy. She was launched in 1798, and was made famous while helping to defend our nation in the war of 1812. It was during the naval battle with the HMS Guerriere that a British sailor, seeing their cannonballs bouncing off her sides, gave her the famous nickname “Old Ironsides”. Her unique construction of a three-layer wood sandwich of american hardwoods gave Old Ironsides her strength. The copper fastenings for the ship where made by Paul Revere. When she was in service the USS Constitution had a crew of 500; Today the she is manned by a crew of  about 70.

The deck guns of Old Ironsides
The deck guns of Old Ironsides

After you leave the USS Constitution your next stop will be the Bunker Hill Monument. It’s not hard finding this site because of its 221 foot granite obelisk that towers over Charlestown.  We crossed over Chelsea Street, under the Tobin Memorial Bridge and climbed up Tremont street to the monument.





The Bunker Hill Monument

After the battles of  Lexington and Concord the Colonial Militia chased the Red Coats back to Boston and then laid siege to the island town of Boston. On the evening of June 16, 1775, Col. William Prescott ordered the militia to fortify the high ground of Bunker’s Hill. However they chose the next hill over, Breed’s Hill, instead. The Red Coats awoke the next day to find cannon and rifles manned by 1,000 militia pointing down on them from the hill. To protect their position on June 17,the British crossed over to Charlestown with 2,200 troops to attack the hill. Only after three charges were the British troops able to dislodge the defenders from the hill.

The 221 ft. high monument to the battle of Bunker Hill
The 221 ft. high monument to the battle of Bunker Hill

The reason given for why the militia pulled back was because of a lack of ammunition. In the end the Colonist lost between 400 to 600 killed or wounded. The British casualties were 1,034 killed or wounded, almost half of their attacking force. This was the first major conflict of the Revolution, and although the British technically won the battle it was a morale-builder for the untrained colonists. The mistake in the name of the hill used in the battle was due to a British Lieutenant Page that reversed the names of the two hills on the battle map.

The cornerstone for the monument was laid in 1825 by Revolutionary war hero the Marquis De Lafayette, and the structure was completed in 1842. Climb up the 294 steps to the top if you can. There a museum on the battle across from the monument at the corner of Monument Square and Monument Avenue.


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