A Landscape of War & Commemoration
Training fields were a familiar sight in early New England in an era of constant alert.
American colonist formed militias for protection and trained in open fields also known as commons. Charlestown Training Field dates from the 1640s after the town's 1629 settlement.It played a part in the American Revolution when Colonial troops marched on Charlestown to prevent the advance of British soldiers and hastily built earthworks on Breed's Hill, just upslope of the Training Field. On June 17th, 1775, in what became known as the Battle of Bunker Hill, British troops attacked the Breed's Hill fortifications, some troops likely approaching through the Training Field.
After the Revolution, the Training Field continued to serve as a mustering ground; a gunhouse was built there in 1832. Military used ceased in the mid-19th century, and became
an urban park and a memorial to American servicemen.
The two bronze tablets in front of you, erected in 1889, bear the names of the Colonial soldiers who fell in the battle.
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument behind you commemorates the nearly 3,000 Charlestown men who fought for the Union in the Civil War (1891-65).
The Battle of Bunker Hill
The map shows where the British likely marched through the Training Field before they encountered
fierce resistance to the north on Breed's Hill. Numerous British and Colonial soldiers were buried after the battle, some possibly in the Training Field, but their bodies were later reclaimed and moved elsewhere.
Plan of the town of Boston with the attack on Bunkers Hill in the peninsula of Charlestown, the 17th of June 1775 by T. Robson 1778. Boston Public Library
The Fallen Tablets (1889)
The payroll records of autumn 1775 - discovered in the late 19th century - revealed the names of 140 Colonial soldiers who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The records list the soldiers' names and claims for clothing expenses, many made by their widows and heirs.
A Memorial of the American Patriots who fell at the Battle of Bunker Hill, Boston City Council, 1889, 2nd ed. Boston Public Library, Charlestown Branch
Bunker Hill Day
A reviewing stand on the Training Field marks the end of the Bunker Hill Day parade, held every June since the Bunker Hill Monument was dedicated in 1843.
1875 Independence Day Parade marching down Winthrop Street, Cutler Collection, Boston Public Library, Charlestown Branch
The Civil War Remembered
Martin Milmore (1844-81), sculptor and Irish immigrant, designed the Soldiers and Sailors Monument and used granite
quarried in Hallowell, Maine. The monument, dedicated in 1872, is among the first examples of Civil War commemorative statuary and served as a blueprint for many subsequent war memorials. The female figure represents America crowning a soldier and sailor with laurel wreaths. Of the 3,000 Charlestown men honored here, three received the Medal of Honor.
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, circa 1872. Boston Public Library