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William Howe was the commander in chief of the British army at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Major General William Howe, leading the British forces, could have easily surrounded the Americans with his ships at sea, but instead chose to march his troops uphill.
Howe might have believed that the Americans would retreat in the face of a smashing, head-on attack.
He was wrong.
His Majesty's ships opened fire on the Americans. Early in the afternoon, 28 barges of British soldiers crossed the Charles River and stormed the hills. The Americans waited until the British were within 15 paces, and then unleashed a bloody fusillade. Scores of British troops were killed or wounded; the rest retreated down the hill.