Slow down a sec. That is not the only attribution for this quote.
"Men, you are all marksmen—don’t one of you fire until you see the whites of their eyes."
~Israel Putnam (1718–1790), U.S. general. command at Battle of Bunker Hill (actually Breed’s Hill, Mass.), June 17, 1775. Quoted in The History of the Siege of Boston, ch. 5, R. Frothingham (1873).
In the first major engagement of the War of Independence, the militiamen defending Boston waited until the attackers were within 15-20 paces before loosing a volley, following which the fallen bodies lay "as thick as sheep in a fold." The command is also attributed to William Prescott (1726-1795) at Bunker Hill, Prince Charles of Prussia (18th century) at Jagerndorf, and Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-1786) at Prague.
Israel Putnam, American soldier active in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. During the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775), he supposedly issued the order, "Don't one of you shoot until you see the whites of their eyes."
The expression "Don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes" is usually attributed to General and later President Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson. There is the odd suggestion that he didn't coin the phrase but most agree that he did.
"Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!" may well be the most frequently quoted American military order relating to firearms. It was given by either William Prescott or Israel Putnam (authorities differ) at the Battle of Bunker Hill (June 17, 1775). According to military historian George Weland, however, the same command had been uttered by Frederick the Great in 1745 during the Battle of Gross-Jagersdorf, in Silesia, when the Prussians were attempting to drive off Austrian attackers: "By push of bayonet alone, no firing until you see the whites of their eyes." Frederick's order was no doubt given in German, and it is doubtful that Prescott (or Putnam) had ever heard of it. In any case, the order remains in the province of military quotations, only rarely if ever transferred to civilian usage.
http://www.livejournal.com/users/virtua ... 2001/05/25
Taken off the newsgroups-
"The most common attribution seems to be William Prescott at Bunker Hill, 1775, but it has also been attributed to others such as General Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham, Prince Charles of Prussia at Jagerndorf, 1745, Frederick the Great at Prague, 1757, and so on.
What seems likely is that it was a common precept in the days of highly inaccurate guns not to fire until the enemy was that close. It was probably a rule-of-thumb coined by some lowly non-commissioned officer. Historians record the words of celebrities, not the people who do the work."
~from http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&t ... com&rnum=2