At the Battle of Bunker Hill who famously said,”Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes!” – 2017

At the Battle of Bunker Hill who famously said, “Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes!”


William Prescott


William Prescott! Although the British defeated the colonial troops at the Battle of Bunker Hill, the latter showed fearlessness. The British suffered severe casualties, giving colonial troops tremendous confidence in their ability to stand up to the Red Coats. After Colonial troops learned that the British were sending troops to Boston to occupy hills around the city, the former built fortifications on Breed’s Hill. They were originally going to build on Bunker Hill. Source: History.com

The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on June 17, 1775, during the Siege of Boston in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. The battle is named after Bunker Hill in Charlestown, Massachusetts, which was peripherally involved in the battle.

William Prescott (February 20, 1726 – October 13, 1795) was an American colonel in the Revolutionary War who commanded the rebel forces in the Battle of Bunker Hill. Prescott is known for his order to his soldiers, “Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes”, such that the rebel troops may shoot at the enemy at shorter ranges, and therefore more accurately and lethally, and so conserve their limited stocks of ammunition. It is debated whether Prescott or someone earlier coined this memorable saying.[1]

Prescott was born in Groton, Massachusetts, when East Pepperell was considered Groton, to Benjamin Prescott (1696–1738) and Abigail Oliver Prescott (1697–1765). He married Abigail Hale (1733–1821) on April 13, 1758, and they had one child, also named William. Prescott owned a house in Pepperell, Massachusetts, on Prescott Street.


Prescott served in the provincial militia in King George’s War where he served in the 1745 Siege of Louisbourg under William Pepperrell. He may have played a role in the naming of the town of Pepperell, Massachusetts, after his commander when it was separated from Groton in 1753. In 1755, when the French and Indian War widened, he saw action at the Battle of Fort Beausejour. He turned down an offer to join the British Army for his service in that war.

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