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.
Prescott was born in Groton, Massachusetts 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 son, also named William, in 1762. 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 Royal Army for his service in that war.