John Trumbull Issue
Depicts Lt. Thomas Grosvenor and Peter Salem (Behind Grosvenor)
(Painting of The Battle of Bunker Hill)
Scott # 1361
Issued Oct 18, 1968 in New Haven, CT
Modeled by Robert L. Jones
Arrow points to Salem
Little is known
of Peter's early life. It is known that he was born as a slave in
Framingham, Massachusetts sometime around the year 1750. Peter's
original owner was Jeremiah Belknap. Jeremiah sold Peter to Lawson Buckminister who allowed Salem to enlist in the Massachusetts
Minutemen (militia). In exchange for
enlisting in the army, Peter received his freedom. Peter served in the
Colonial Army until the end of the war. He also fought at Concord
and at Saratoga.
Peter Salem has been credited with killing Major
Pitcairn the leader of the British forces storming the hill. According
to the story, the colonial troops were near defeat,
and British Major John Pitcairn ordered them to surrender. Salem then stepped
forward and shot
British were temporarily stunned, and the Americans were able to
retreat. Pitcairn later died of the wound.
After the war Peter Salem made a living
weaving baskets. He died in 1816.
image on the stamp was taken from lower right hand corner of a painting
by John Trumbull titled, "The
Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill"
The Battle of Bunker Hill
One of the most important colonial victories early in
the U.S. War of Independence was the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was fought
on June 17, 1775.
Shortly after the battles of Lexington and
Concord on April 19, 1775,colonial troops from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New
Hampshire, and Rhode Island assembled in the vicinity of Boston to stop a
British army of 5,000 or more stationed there. General Ward,
Commander-in-Chief of the Massachusetts Militia served as the overall
commander of the New England troops.
There were two obvious points from which Boston was
vulnerable to artillery fire: Dorchester Heights, and two hills located in
Charleston; Bunker's and Breed's. (Charleston is now part of Boston.)
They are both located about a quarter of a mile across the Charles River from
the north shore of Boston. By the middle of June, hearing that the British
general, Thomas Gage was about to occupy one of the hills, the colonials
decided to fortify it. Colonel William Prescott and his men completed and
strengthened a redoubt atop Breed's Hill despite a cannonade from
British ships in the harbor and from a battery across the river in north
had instructions to establish his position on Bunker's Hill. For reasons that
are still unclear, he constructed his fortifications on nearby Breed's Hill.)
General Gage dispatched about 2,300 troops under
Major General William Howe against Prescott. Landing without opposition under
artillery protection, the British were stopped by heavy fire from the colonial
troops barricaded behind rail fences that had been stuffed with grass, hay,
and brush. On the second or third advance, however, the attackers carried the
redoubt and forced the surviving defenders, mostly exhausted and weaponless,
to flee. The British lost over 1000 soldiers in the battle compared to the
American losses of 450 troops.
The British did not follow up on their costly victory
at Breed's Hill and subsequently after General Washington took over the
colonial command in Boston two weeks later, he fortified Dorchester Heights
and compelled the British to evacuate Boston.