The Battle of Bunker Hill, 1775, was fought with the smoothbore flintlock musket, the odd Jäger rifle, and muzzleloading cannon of ship and field. They also fought in formation, in the open, using the linear tactic—both sides (it’s a myth that during the Revolution the reb militia hid behind rocks and trees and picked off those Redcoats standing in a row). This was a thoroughly Enlightenment style engagement. The Second Battle of Bunker Hill, waged in 1957, evidences a devolution of society; its craven assault waged with the antiquated arrow. Hardly the shower of arrows we saw at Agincourt or Thermopylae, but still.
It’s April 25, 1957, and a demolition crew is hard at work tearing down “an ancient frame dwelling” at First and Hope streets. Charles Ousley, 25, is standing in the bed of a dump truck when an arrow whistles by. He alerts John Trott, 30, crew foreman, who picks up the feathered shaft and gazes upward.
In a third-floor window of the Rossmere Apartments across the street, he saw a man with a five-foot bow.
Police pounded up to the apartment but found the archer had flown as swiftly as had his arrow. Prefiguring Oswald’s abandoned Mannlicher-Carcano, authorities recover the bow in the room.
“This work is dangerous enough,” said Trott, “without somebody firing arrows at my men.”
Neighbors fingered the culprit as one Albert Duarte, 20. “He got tired of hearing that racket all day,” one of them explained.
“I’m tired of these prima donnas,” grumbled Trott.
Rossmere Apartments image courtesy Arnold Hylen Collection, California History Section, California State Library