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Battle of Bennington - Hessian - History


A Hessian's Account of the Battle of Bennington
The Hessian Glich

[August 16, 1777].... The morning of the sixteenth rose beautifully serene; and it is not to the operation of the elements alone that my expression applies. All was perfectly quiet at the outposts, not an enemy having been seen nor an alarming sound heard for several hours previous to sunrise So peaceable, indeed, was the aspect which matters bore that our leaders felt manuly disposed to resume the offensive without waiting the arrival of the additional corps for which they had applied; and orders were already issued for the men to eat their breakfasts, preparatory to more active operations. Bur the arms were scarcely piled and the haversacks unslung when symptoms to a state of affairs different from that which had been anticipated began to show themselves, and our people were recalled to their ranks in all haste, almo.st as soon as they had quitted them. From more than one quarter scouts came in to report that columns of armed men were approaching though whether with friendly or hostile intention, neither their actions enabled our informants to ascertain.

It has been stated that during the last day's march our little corps was joined by many of the country people, most of whom demanded and obtained arms, as persons friendly to the royal cause. How Colonel Baume became so completely duped as to place reliance on these men, I know not; but having listened with complacency to their previous assurances that in Bennington a large majority of the populace were our friends, he was somehow or other persuaded to believe that the armed bands, of whose approach he was warned, were loyalists on their way to make tender of their services to the leader of the king's troops. Filled with this idea, he dispatched positive orders to the outposts that no molestations should be offered to the advancing columns, but that the pickets retiring before them should join the main body, where every disposition was made to receive either friend or foe. Unfortunately for us, these orders were but too faithfully obeyed. About half past nine o'clock, I, who was not in the secret, beheld, to my utter amazement our advanced parties withdraw without firing a shot from thickets which might have been maintained for hours against any superiority of [lumbers; and the same thickets occupied by men whose whole demeanor, as well as their dress and style of equipment, plainly and incontestably pointed them out as Americans.

I cannot pretend to describe the state of excitation and alarm into which our little band was now thrown. With the solitary exception of our leader, there was not a man among us who appeared otherwise than satisfied that those to whom he had listened were traitors, and that unless some prompt and vigorous measures were adopted, their treachery would be crowned with its full reward....

We might have stood about half an hour under arms, watching the proceedings of a column of four or five hundred men, who, after dislodging that pickets, had halted just at the edge of the open country, when a sudden trampling of feet in the forest on our right, followed by the report of several ~ muskets, attracted our attention. A patrol was instantly sent in the direction .of the sound, but before the party composing it had proceeded many yards from the lines, a loud shout, followed by a rapid though straggling fire of musketry, warned us to prepare for a meeting the reverse of friendly. Instantly the Indians came pouring in, carrying dismay and confusion in the countenances and gestures. We were surrounded on all sides; columns where advancing everywhere against us, and those whom we had hitherto trusted as friends had only waited till the arrival of their support might justify then~ in advancing.

There was no falsehood in these reports, though made by men who spoke rather from their fears than their knowledge. The column in our front no sooner heard the shout than they replied cordially and loudly to it; then, firing a volley with deliberate and murderous aim, rushed furiously towards us Now then, at length, our leader's dreams of security were dispelled. He found himself attacked in front and flanked by thrice his number,who
pressed forward with the confidence which our late proceedings were calculated to produce, whilst the very persons in whom he had trusted, and to
whom he had given arms, lost no time in turning them against him. These followers no sooner heard their comrades' cry than they deliberately`charged their muskets among Reidesel's dragoons and, dispersing before any steps could be taken to seize them, escaped, excepting one or two, to their friends.

If Col. Baume had permitted himself to be duped into a great error, it is no more than justice to confess that he exerted himself manfully to remedy the devil and avert its consequences. Our little band, which had hitherto remained in column, was instantly ordered to extend, and the troops lining the breastworks replied to the fire of the Americans with extreme celerity and considerable effect. So close and destructive, indeed, was our first volley that the assailants recoiled before it, and would have retreated, in all probability, within the woods; but ere we could take advantage of the confusion produced, fresh attacks developed themselves, and we were warmly engaged on every side and from all quarters. It became evident that each of our detached posts were about to be assailed at the same instant. No one of our dispositions had been concealed from the enemy, who, on the contrary, seemed to he hare of the exact number of men stationed at each point, and they were one and all threatened with a force perfectly adequate to bear down opposition, and yet by no means disproportionately large or such as to render the main body inefficient. All, moreover, was done with the sagacity and coolness of veterans, who perfectly understood the nature of the resistance to be expected and the difficulties to be overcome, and who, having well considered and matured their plans, were resolved to carry them into execution at all hazards and at every expense of life.

It was at this moment, when the heads of columns began to show themselves in rear of our right and left, that the Indians, who had hitherto acted with spirit and something like order, lost all confidence and fled. Alarmed at the prospect of having their retreat cut off, they stole away, after their own fashion, in single files, in spite of the strenuous remonstrances of Baume and of their own officers, leaving us more than ever exposed by the abandonment of that angle of the entrenchments which they had been appointed to maintain But even this spectacle, distressing as it doubtless was, failed in affecting our people with a feeling at all akin to despair.

The vacancy which the retreat of the savages occasioned was promptly filled up by one of our two field pieces, whilst the other poured destruction amoung the enemy in front, as often as they showed themselves in the open country or threatened to advance. In this state of things we continued upwards of three quarters of an hour. Tho' repeatedly assailed in front, flank and rear, we maintained ourselves with so much obstinacy as to inspire a hope that the enemy might even yet be kept at bay till the arrival of Breyman's corps, now momentarily expected; when an accident occurred, which at once put an end to this expectation and exposed us, almost defenseless, to our fate.

The solitary tumbril which contained the whole of our spare ammunition became ignited and blew up with a violence which shook the very ground under our feet and caused a momentary cessation in firing, both on our side and that of the enemy. But the cessation was only for a moment. The American officers, guessing the extent of our calamity, cheered their men to fresh exertions. They rushed up the ascent with redoubled ardor, in spite of the heavy volley which we poured in to check them, and, finding our guns silent, they sprang over the parapet and dashed within our works.

For a few seconds the scene which ensued defies all power of language to describe. The bayonet, the butt of the rifle, the sabre, the pike, were in full
play, and men fell, as they rarely fall in modern war, under the direct blows of their enemies. But such a struggle could not, in the nature of things, be of long continuance. Outnumbered, broken and somewhat disheartened by lat events, our people wavered and fell back, or fought singly and unconnectedly, till they were either cut down at their posts, obstinately defending themselves, or compelled to surrender. Of Reidesel's dismaunted dragoons, fev~ survived to tell how nobly they had behaved; CoL Baume, shot through the body by a rifle ball, fell mortally wounded; and all order and discipline being lost, flight or submission was alone thought of.

For my own part, whether the feeling arose from desperation or accident I cannot tell, but I resolved not to be taken. As yet I had escaped almost unhurt, a slight flesh wound in the left arm having alone fallen to my share; and gathering around me about thirty of my comrades, we made a rush where the enemy's ranks appeared weakest, and burst through. This done, each man made haste to shift for himself without pausing to consider the fate of his neighbor; and losing one third of our number from the enemy's fire,
remainder took refuge, in groups of two or three, within the forest.


Bennington

In the summer of 1777, Gen. John Burgoyne’s army moved south from Canada as part of the overall British strategy to divide New England from the rest of the rebellious American colonies. The British commander’s army was slowed by poor roads as well as trees and other obstacles strewn along the route by the Americans. Burgoyne’s supply line was stretched thin, forcing the general to explore opportunities to replenish his forces. When Burgoyne learned of horses and supplies in Bennington, Vermont – south of his position and east of the Hudson River – the 55-year-old commander divided his army, sending German, British, Loyalist, and Native American forces toward Bennington under the leadership of Lt. Col. Friedrich Baum.

As Baum’s troops moved southeast, local militia units learned of his activity and began to prepare for action as the bulk of the American forces in the area pulled back under attack by Burgoyne’s vanguard. Baum sent couriers to Burgoyne asking for reinforcements as additional intelligence indicated a force of militiamen – he referred to them as “uncouth militia” – gathered to stop him.

American forces were led by Gen. John Stark, a hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill and a veteran of the Battle of Trenton. When Stark sent out calls for additional forces to rally to his side, a Continental Army regiment led by highly respected Col. Seth Warner was among the forces that responded. Loyalists also assembled in support of Baum. Finally, on August 16, 1777, after a day of non-stop rain, Baum’s command was attacked by over a thousand American militiamen in Walloomsac, New York, about 10 miles from Bennington.

Hoping that poor weather might delay an American advance and that reinforcements from Burgoyne would soon arrive, Baum’s troops had constructed a small redoubt on a hill. When the weather cleared on the afternoon of August 16, the Americans made their move. To inspire his men, Stark reportedly proclaimed, "There are your enemies, the Red Coats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow." Unfortunately for Baum, he was duped by men entering his camp professing to be Loyalist recruits. Some of them turned out to be Stark’s militiamen, whose aim was to gather intelligence and report back to their commander.

After heavy fighting, American forces were able to breach their enemy’s small redoubt. Stark later claimed it was “the hottest engagement I have ever witnessed, resembling a continual clap of thunder." For some combatants, the fight was personal. It was a desperate struggle former friends who had grown up together in Vermont or the surrounding area found themselves facing off with each other.

A century later, a romanticized tale, reportedly written by a German veteran of the battle, gained popularity and currency. “For a few seconds the scene which ensued defies all power of language to describe,” he recalled. “The bayonet, the butt of the rifle, the sabre, the pike were in full play as men fell, as they rarely fall in modern war, under the direct blows of their enemies.”

Within a short period of time, Patriot forces had Baum and his men surrounded. Many of his Native and Loyalist allies fled in the heat of the battle. Baum himself was mortally wounded leading his Germans in dogged resistance on the little knoll, where they were overrun.

The battle continued until nightfall when darkness brought it to a halt. Unfortunately for Baum, his reinforcements arrived just after the battle. Burgoyne’s detachment suffered more than 200 dead and seriously wounded more than 700 were taken prisoner or missing. American casualties were about 70.

The defeat put a major strain on Burgoyne’s army, which, in addition to the casualties suffered, never secured the provisions the British commander needed. Burgoyne's Native American allies lost confidence in him and his mission and left his army to fend for itself in the New York wilderness – deprived of its best-scouting forces. The Battle of Bennington was the precursor to the defeat of Burgoyne’s army two months later at Saratoga, turning the tide of war in favor of the Americans.


Battle of Bennington

By early August 1777, John Burgoyne was beginning to feel the pinch of supply shortages and the rigors of traversing the forests of western New York. In particular, the army needed horses for transporting cannon and providing maneuverability for the heavy-booted Brunswick Dragoons. Further, cattle were needed to feed the increasingly hungry troops of all stripes. On August 11, a largely German force was dispatched under Colonel Friedrich Baum. Their target was clear — the rich Connecticut Valley to the east — but the specific orders were confusing. The expedition was to gather horses, saddles and cattle, and also spread the word to all they encountered that Burgoyne would soon be on the road to Boston the latter was clearly intended as misinformation. This foray deep into the countryside was risky. The soldiers would plunge into deep forest, remove themselves from the safety of the main army and likely expose themselves to a hostile populace. Resistance was encountered from the beginning, but Baum pushed on toward the prosperous community of Bennington. Meanwhile John Stark, an American hero at the Battle of Bunker Hill and other early encounters, had raised a brigade of New Hampshire militiamen. Still seething from being passed over for promotion by Congress, he refused to submit to the authority of the generals in the Continental Army. Nevertheless, Stark and his men headed toward Bennington under orders from the New Hampshire legislature. On August 16 the opposing forces met outside of Bennington. The outnumbered Germans occupied high ground and put up a spirited fight against overwhelming odds. The battle was not decided until Baum fell mortally wounded only a handful of his men escaped and the remainder had either been killed or captured. At this moment of seeming triumph, the battle was reignited with the arrival of a German relief column under Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Breymann, which threw the contest into doubt. Shortly thereafter, the fortunes turned once more, this time with the appearance of Seth Warner commanding a combined force of regular army and Green Mountain Boys. Breymann’s soldiers were routed and fled into the darkness at day's end. Burgoyne had committed a significant error of judgment by sending forces to Bennington. The Americans were still leery of confronting a major British army in open battle, but they were much more confident about meeting smaller detachments on familiar terrain — exactly the conditions that were present at the Battle of Bennington. The British sustained more than 800 casualties in the day’s fighting, about 15 percent of Burgoyne’s force. British spirits were further dampened by the slow progress made by Burgoyne’s main army, sometimes as little as one mile a day. Instead of being supplemented by local Loyalists, as they had anticipated, the British were constantly harassed by hostile farmers who willingly burned their crops, destroyed roads and toppled bridges as Burgoyne approached.


New Beer Celebrates ‘Hessians’ At Battle of Bennington

Brown’s Brewing Company in Hoosick Falls and Troy, NY, has brewed a special beer in tribute to the Germans that served at the Battle of Bennington which took place in the Town of Hoosick in 1777 during the American Revolutionary War.

The historic Braunschweigers Mumme Ale is a dark, spicy beer created in the late 1400s in the German province of Braunschweig in what is now Lower Saxony, home of Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum and his elite regiment of mounted infantrymen called Dragoons.

The average American sees the American Revolutionary War as a conflict between America and the British motherland, but approximately half of British General John Burgoyne’s army that departed from Quebec in 1777 were German. The Americans refer to them as ‘Hessians,’ but a majority of the Germans that took part in this campaign were actually from the province of Braunschweig, and their Prince Carl had provided his brother-in-law King George III of Britain their service in putting down the Rebellion. Britain reimbursed Prince Carl for commissions and the troops fought for the glories of victorious battle to which title and honor were attached in feudal Europe. This beer is dedicated in memory to those troops.

“Brown’s “Baum Mumm Ale” is based on its Brown Ale and is brewed with 2-Row Brewers, Caramel and Chocolate Malts, Willamette Hops and a host of herbs and spices including bog myrtle, cardamon, thyme, spearmint, marjoram and clove,” said Brown’s Vice-President Gregg Stacy. Brown’s Baum Mumm has a 5% alcohol by volume and 17 IBU’s. It will also be available on draught for a limited time at Brown’s Malt Room in Troy, New York.”

Baunschweigers Mumme was first produced in Braunschweig, Germany the same year that Columbus “discovered” America. The heavy brown beer was so strong the Germans said “maenner davon umfeilen,” which means, “men would fall over after drinking it.” Due to the high alcohol and sugar content it stayed fresh for weeks, making it was perfect for long sea voyages and a great export success in the 1600s and 1700s. Brown’s recipe is derived from an English recipe written in The Reciept Book of John Nott that dates to the 1600s, but their Master Brewer has modernized the recipe for their standard brewing equipment.

Brown’s is offering its take on this historic ale as part of Washington County Historical Society’s Road to the Battle of Bennington Inaugural celebration on June 7 at Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site in Hoosick, New York, from 2-4PM . The event begins with an inaugural celebration being held at the Canal Corp Parking Area near Champlain Canal Lock 6 on the eastside of US Route 4 in the Town of Fort Edward at 11AM followed by a bus tour to Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site. Pre-registration is required for the bus tour, and the $25 fee covers lunch.


Vermont's unique holiday on August 16th is in honor of the Revolutionary War Battle of Bennington. Here Brigadier General John Stark and his American forces successfully defeated two detachments of British General John Burgoyne's invading army in 1777. Following the Battle, Burgoyne wrote to his superior, Lord Germaine, "The New Hampshire Grants in particular, a country unpeopled and almost unknown in the last war, now abounds in the most active and most rebellious race on the continent and hangs like a gathering storm on my left." The British plan had been to cut New England off from the other colonies. With the British recapture of Fort Ticonderoga and the resulting American evacuation of Mount Independence in Orwell, Vermont, the British advance southward had been temporarily stopped at Hubbardton, the only Revolutionary War battle fought entirely on Vermont soil. This tactical victory gave the Colonial forces a chance to regroup and forged the first successful resistance to Burgoyne's plan.

As a result of these engagements, the British were in need of military stores and supplies. With reports that substantial stores were in the Bennington area, two of Burgoyne's units (under the command of Lieutenant Colonels Friedrich Baum and Heinrich von Breymann) of approximately 700 British, Indian, Loyalist and German mercenaries headed for the arsenal depot located at the present Monument site.

Alarmed at the pace and probable success of Burgoyne's advancing army, the newly formed Republic of Vermont, through its Council of Safety and without the knowledge of the British forces, appealed to neighboring New Hampshire for assistance against the increasing British attacks and invasions. Burgoyne has gone down in history as one of Britain's more successful generals and carried the nickname "Gentleman Johnny," given to him by his troops because of the humane and understanding manner with which he treated them. The Colonial forces chose as their leader retired Continental Army Colonel John Stark, who had fought at Bunker Hill and under George Washington at Trenton and Princeton. Given the rank of Brigadier General, Stark accepted the challenge under the independent authority granted by New Hampshire rather than under Continental Command. Under Stark's command was the entire Bennington force, consisting of approximately 2,000 Vermont, New Hampshire and Berkshire County (Massachusetts) volunteers, most of whom were untrained.

Aware of the advancing British troops moving east toward Bennington, Stark decided to head them off rather than defend the supply depot at the Bennington site. Therefore, it was approximately five miles northwest of Bennington, near Walloomsac Heights in New York State, that the actual battle took place.

Hampered by heavy rains, the British had halted their advance and were encamped on the south slope parallel to the Walloomsac River. General Stark, assessing the British position, sent detachments under Colonel Moses Nichols to circle Baum's left, under Colonel Samuel Herrick to circle the right, and under Colonels David Hobart and Thomas Stickney to the south. Stark, with the remaining men, made the principal frontal attack.

The fighting began at three o'clock on the afternoon of August 16th. Folklore has Stark uttering the immortal words, "There are the Red Coats they will be ours or tonight Molly Stark sleeps a widow." The first shot was fired by Nichols' battalion and by five o'clock that evening, the British troops were retreating in disorder. Baum received a mortal wound at this stage of the battle and his demoralized troops surrendered. General Stark later described this engagement as "one continuous clap of thunder."

As General Stark was taking the captured and wounded enemy soldiers back to Bennington, Colonel Breymann appeared with a second unit of Burgoyne's army, surprising Stark and his men. The Americans fought back but exhausted and hungry, they slowly gave ground.

Then suddenly, arriving overland from Manchester, Colonel Seth Warner and his Green Mountain Boys came to their aid. With this additional help and reinforcement, the scales were tipped in the Americans' favor and Breymann's ranks gave way. By dusk they were fleeing, with the Americans in hot pursuit.

The Battle of Bennington was of no small consequence. The mostly untrained Yankees had overwhelmingly defeated some of Europe's best trained, disciplined and equipped troops. A large percentage of Burgoyne's army had been killed, wounded or captured and much of their already short supply of needed military stores had been captured by the American forces. The Americans' valuable stock of stores and supplies had been saved, and Burgoyne's ambitious plan for a quick march to Albany had been halted.

Due in large part to the lack of the much needed supplies, Burgoyne, on October 17, 1777, surrendered with his entire command of some 8,000 British, Hessian and Brunswick troops at Stillwater, New York, following the Battle of Saratoga, a major turning point for the American Revolution.


Battle of Bennington - Hessian - History

USS BENNINGTON
THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON RETURN TO:


RENSSELAER COUNTY, NEW YORK, AUGUST 17, 1777

In the spring of 1777 a British Army under General John Burgoyne started down the Hudson River from Canada. As Burgoyne marched south, patriot militia began to gather in Vermont and New Hampshire. John Stark, a veteran soldier, was given command of the 1500-man New Hampshire Brigade. Hearing that Burgoyne was planning a raid into Vermont, Stark marched his men to Bennington. There they were joined by militia regiments from Vermont and western Massachusetts.

On August 11, Burgoyne sent out a mixed force of some 800 Canadians, Loyalists, Indians, British, and Hessian (German) mercenaries on a foraging expedition. This mostly-German force was harassed by small bands of militia, and its Hessian commander sent for reinforcements he stopped to await them a few miles from Bennington. With the enemy force position on and around a large hill, General Stark decided to use his 2,000 militiamen to surround them. "Yonder are the Redcoats," Stark is supposed to have said. "We will defeat them or Molly Stark will sleep a widow tonight."

Small bands of militiamen, pretending to be loyal Tories, worked their way behind enemy positions. When firing began, these men turned on the Hessians and Tories around them. Those not killed fled into the woods, pursued by the militiamen. Other Americans surged up the hill to the Hessian breastworks, and for two hours the battle raged. Hessian commander was mortally wounded when, ammunition exhausted, he and his Dragoons attempted to hack their way off the hill with their swords.

When the battle was at its height reinforcements arrived from Burgoyne. Luckily, the Vermont militia came up or about the same time to reinforce Stark, and again the fighting raged. American victory was assured when the militiamen drove off the Hessian reinforcements.

The proud traditions of the militia who fought so well at Bennington are today carried on by units of New Hampshire and Vermont Army National Guard.


Blenheim to Berlin

This week’s 28mm AWI game that I arranged at the my house was based on the Rebellion scenario for the battle of Bennington August 16, 1777. Scott Duncan was up visiting from Gatwick and this gave me a good excuse for the game.

Hessians and Indians deployed near the Hessian redoubt
Some History
The Battle of Bennington was a battle of the American Revolutionary War that took place on August 16, 1777, in Walloomsac, New York, about 10 miles from it’s namesake Bennington, Vermont. A rebel force of 2,000 men, primarily composed of New Hampshire and Massachusetts militiamen, led by General John Stark, and reinforced by men led by Colonel Seth Warner and members of the Green Mountain Boys, decisively defeated a detachment of General John Burgoyne's army led by Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum, and supported by additional men under Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Breymann.

The game was fought on a 10ft by 6ft table. We used the standard movement and ranges given in the rules not the 66% version that we use in most of our BP games. The terrain for the table was based on that in the Rebellion map – it is largely wooded except for an area of open ground in front of the 2 redoubts and along the road and the ford. I used 20 figure units for the standard units and 10 figure skirmishing units as small units. The figures are mainly Front Rank, with some Perry, Foundry, Old Glory and Sash and Sabre. Given the size of the units used I slightly reduced the number of units given in the scenario – you will find the revised OB at the end of this report. I used the troop ratings given in the scenario including the Militia with a Ferocious charge but added in some Rebel skirmishers. We used the alternative turn sequence, a Break Test chart based on the one from Hail Caesar, and I did not count formed troops in woods as an unclear target but did give them the +1 to their saving throw for the cover. We decided to ignore the scenario rule about the inactivity of the British troops in the first 2 moves.

Loyalists close up on the River to engage Stark's brigade

Scott Duncan commanded the British Army. Dave Paterson and I commanded the Patriots. The Loyalists deployed 1 unit in their redoubt on the south bank of the river with the rest of that command on the north bank. The Hessians deployed 1 unit and the gun in their hilltop redoubt with their other 3 units deployed around the hill supported by the 2 Indian units in the forest.

Redoubt falls to Herrick's militia
Notes
All my photos are on flickr at
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bill26048/sets/72157647170199483/

I staged my own Hubbardton scenario at the SESWC 3 weeks ago and it is written up in Angus Konstam’s Edinburgh and Orkney Wargames site at

4 Brunswick Infantry
Light Artillery

4 Loyalist Infantry
Canadian Militia Skirmishers
2 Indian Skirmishers
British Marksmen Skirmishers

4 Hessian infantry
Field Artillery

Reinforcements arrive on turn 7.


Battle of Bennington: A historic revival

The legendary Catamount Tavern in Old Bennington, which burned in 1871. Jonah Spivak is advocating construction of a replica tavern and many other efforts to greatly enhance in the eyes of potential visitors the area's connection the Battle of Bennington.

The Bennington Battle Monument being built in 1889.

Jonah Spivak, seen in front of the Bennington Battle Monument, has high hopes for a 250th anniversary celebration of the Revolutionary War battle in August of 2027.

A small monument stands on the site of Gen. John Stark's encampment during the Battle of Bennington in August 1777, off what is now Harrington Road. Jonah Spivak, a former president of the local chamber of commerce, is advocating a number of much more dramatic historical enhancements to highlight Bennington's connection to the world famous battle.

BENNINGTON — Jonah Spivak would like to see his obsession with the Battle of Bennington evolve into a comparable victory — in economic terms — for the modern-day town.

"I've always loved history," Spivak said. "I have a degree in history from the University of Vermont, but at the time I was more interested in European history."

Spivak believes a recreated Catamount Tavern — a popular haunt of battlefield heroes Col. Seth Warner and the Green Mountain Boys — and an official 250th anniversary celebration could exponentially expand historical interest in Bennington, and the battle that helped turn the tide of the Revolution.

"One of the things I was impressed by was how the battle was celebrated over the years: 1871, when it was proposed (the monument was dedicated in 1891) 1927 and 1977," he said. "That really is what got me thinking about how a community celebrates and remembers its history. It really defines who we are."

To mark the anniversary of the battle, Spivak, the local chamber, area lawmakers and others have proposed state legislation that would establish a 2027 celebration commission and include funding to promote and enhance anniversary events around the state, culminating in Bennington on Battle Day, August 16, 2027.

Spivak, the owner of the Hawkins House and a past president of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce said it wasn't until he moved back to this area and reconnected with a friend, Bob Hoar, that his consuming interest blossomed.

Hoar had researched many local historical sites, including the early Dutch settlement of Sancoick in what is now North Hoosick, N.Y., and has focused particularly on the famous 1777 Revolutionary War battle.

Together, the friends visited the Bennington battlefield park off Route 67 in Walloomsac, N.Y.

"He just took me along for the ride," Spivak said, "and what struck me was what a good story this was. And having over 200 firsthand accounts of the battle is really extraordinary having the kind of maps that we were given. Just absolutely wonderful primary sources, telling the story of what happened there."

The battlefield is much more expansive than most people realize, Spivak said. It extends along both sides of the Walloomsac valley near the park site and west along what is now Route 67 into North Hoosick.

The state park is now in New York, but at the time, the land was part of an undefined and disputed border area between that state and what would later become Vermont. In fact, Spivak said, the area within the park was one site among several that saw fighting during a battle that spread over three days that August.

A detachment of Gen. John Burgoyne's army, including Native Americans siding with the British and soldiers from German principalities — often called Hessians, despite the fact many were from Brunswick, not Hesse — planned to push into Bennington in search of horses, oxen and military supplies.

Instead, they were defeated on the climactic third day of the engagement, Aug. 16. They fell back in disorder to the west, rallied after reinforcements arrived from the main British army near Saratoga, N.Y. then were pushed back again later in the day, sustaining heavy casualties.

Two months later, after a pair of battles near Saratoga, Burgoyne's army surrendered — a major victory for the new nation, and one that gave France the confidence to aid the American war effort.

Involved at that critical moment were Warner and the Green Mountain Boys, perhaps the most famous patrons of the legendary Catamount Tavern that once stood in Old Bennington. They arrived and entered the fight when the enemy appeared to have gained momentum.

The tavern burned in 1871 and now is marked by a catamount statue on Monument Drive.

A replica 18th century tavern would "really impact this region," Spivak said, adding that "a number of people have come up to me to say they were really excited about that thought."

Spivak said some have suggested several replica colonial-era buildings around a new Catamount Tavern, in the manner of structures in Historic Eastfield Village.

Such an attraction "would be a boost for the entire Shires region," he said.

Spivak says it dawned on him that Bennington County and nearby New York towns are only scratching the surface when it comes to telling the story in an interactive way that could attract far more visitors to the area, and that a good time to renew this effort would be the 250th anniversary of the battle, in 2027.

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Even if a Catamount Tavern replica proves too difficult a project, he said, it is certainly feasible to add many more interpretive historical markers around the area of the battle, calling attention to the written accounts, which abound.

Those locations include the riverside site of the "Widow Whipple's" house, which had a cannonball fly through it, and the hilltop "Tory Redoubt," where the enemy commander, Lt. Col. Friedrich Baum, stationed a contingent of Tories (those who remained loyal to Britain), including many from nearby towns.

American commander Gen. John Stark's encampment site for the battle, in a field off Harrington Road in Bennington and marked by a small monument, is one of those that could easily be enhanced with recreations and reenactments, Spivak said.

From there, Stark could walk a short distance to see the modern-day state park site and what became known as "Hessian Hill" — not that Stark needed to view the British Army defenses, Spivak said. Many of the estimated 4,000 people involved in the battle — more than 3,000 on the American side — did not have regular uniforms, and more than a few simply walked into Baum's camp and took mental notes.

The German-speaking Baum — who would receive a fatal stomach wound in the battle and die at a nearby house — apparently discounted warnings from Native American allies and from a British officer, Spivak said, that these people "might not be your friends."

In fact, Americans lacking uniforms famously took up positions near Baum's troops as if they were Tories and then opened fire on Baum's troops as soon as the fighting started.

All these documented and sometimes colorfully recounted stories illustrate the appeal of the battle's history and its major historical significance, Spivak said.

Weeks after the two contingents sent toward Bennington by British commander Gen. John Burgoyne were decisively defeated with 900 casualties and 700 taken prisoner, the main British army was halted near Saratoga, N.Y.

Burgoyne's entire army subsequently was defeated that October by troops from the Continental Army and militia units from the surrounding states. That in turn helped convince France to enter the war on the American side.

With new historical and archaeological information continually surfacing, Spivak said, it became clear that the traditional, simplified story of the Battle of Bennington "is flawed in many ways."

The major misconception for the general public is that the battle took place on the date now celebrated as Bennington Battle Day, Aug. 16.

In fact, there was a confrontation on Aug. 14 in the Sancoick settlement (North Hoosick), and heavy skirmishing around the area continued on Aug. 15, as troops searched for weak points in enemy lines or advantageous terrain to defend. Despite rain on the 15th, fighting produced a number of casualties.

Other surrounding communities were also involved in battle events, Spivak said. Gen. John Stark, of New Hampshire, and his troops passed through Peru and stopped for a time in Manchester when marching to Bennington from his home state.

In fact, he said, Manchester was the original target of the raid, but Burgoyne sent word to Baum to head for Bennington instead, based on erroneous Tory information that it would be lightly defended.

Nearby Berkshire County, Massachusetts, likewise sent a contingent to the battle, and others arrived from around Massachusetts, as well as from Connecticut and New York state.

Burgoyne's goal that August was to fight his way down from Canada to Albany, New York, part of a grand British plan to "cut the colonies in two," but the strategy failed miserably, shocking the British and boosting the American cause.

"We are celebrating something that is not just significant locally but nationally and internationally," Spivak said. "It was a huge deal."

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont, including the Bennington Banner, Brattleboro Reformer and Manchester Journal. Twitter: @BB_therrien


Battle of Bennington

General John Stark with New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts Militia defeated and captured an expeditionary force sent by General Burgoyne and commanded by Colonel Baum. This was one of the first decisive victories in the War of the Revolution.

Erected 1927 by The State of New York.

Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Patriots & Patriotism &bull War, US Revolutionary.

Location. 42° 56.033′ N, 73° 18.297′ W. Marker is in Walloomsac, New York, in Rensselaer County. Marker is on Battlefield Lane near New York State Route 67, on the right when traveling north. The marker is mounted on the stone gate post at the entrance to Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hoosick Falls NY 12090, United States of America. Touch for directions.

Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hoosick World War II Memorial (a few steps from this marker) Battle of Bennington First Engagement (a few steps from this marker) Bennington Battlefield (a few steps from this marker) Patriots of Vermont (approx. 0.3 miles away) New Hampshire Troops (approx. 0.3 miles away) Massachusetts Volunteers at Bennington (approx. 0.3 miles away)

Regarding Battle of Bennington.
Prelude to The Battle
As General Burgoyne's army advanced from the north, refugees started to stream into the Bennington area. With growing concern, the citizens of Bennington sent out a call for help to New Hampshire and Massachusetts. A militia force under the command of General John Stark soon arrived from New Hampshire while militia companies and small groups of men continually arrived from the hills of western Massachusetts. Though the Green Mountain Boys, now a unit in the Continental Army, stayed in Manchester, their leader, Seth Warner, came to Bennington to help in the defense.

General Stark, the most senior officer on the field, received his commission as general directly from the New Hampshire legislature. After serving valiantly at Bunker Hill and the Battle of Trenton, Stark was passed over for promotion by the Continental Congress. Rather than continue to serve, he retired to his farm in New Hampshire. When the call came for help, he agreed to serve as long

as his directives came from New Hampshire, not the Continental Congress.

Much of Burgoyne's army was made up of German troops, hired by King George III by treaty from various German states such as Hesse (Hessians) and Brunswick. The majority of troops that marched on Bennington, including their colonel, were Brunswick Dragoons. Aiding them were two Hessian artillery crews, Mohawk Indian, British infantry, Canadian volunteers, and a number of loyalists commanded by Francis Pfister of Hoosick, New York.

As Stark set up camp in and around Bennington, Colonel Baum and his mixed forces pushed down the Bennington road (now route 67) towards Cambridge. After a brief skirmish with American troops at Cambridge on the morning of the 13th of August, Baum moved on to SanCoick, now North Hoosick, New York. On the morning of the 14th, Baum entered SanCoick and engaged a scouting party of Americans under Colonel William Gregg who were in the area investigating reports of Indian activity. After taking the SanCoick mill, and passing the plundered stores back to Burgoyne, he continued his march. Gregg quickly informed the main American army, already on the march, that a British army was close at hand. Stark drew his army up for battle on the ridges east of SanCoick and waited for Baum. By noon the armies faced each other, but rather than risk attacking a well-positioned foe,

Baum entrenched his troops on the opposing hills.

Nervous about the American forces, Baum wrote to Burgoyne requesting reinforcements. Through the night he worked on his defensive position while Stark withdrew a few miles to await more troops and gather information. Continuous rain on the 15th kept Stark from attacking, allowed Baum to further entrench his forces.

Though sources vary, it is estimated that Colonel Baum commanded between 1,000 and 1,200 troops while General Stark opposed him with between 1,800 and 2,000 Americans.

The Battle
When Colonel Baum's request for reinforcements arrived, General Burgoyne sent a detachment of 642 soldiers and two cannons under Colonel Heinrick Breymann in relief. However, the rain that delayed Stark's attack one day and allowed Baum to build better defenses also created muddy roads that slowed Breymann's advance. On the morning of the battle Breymann's force was still almost a full day's march away.

With the morning of August 16th dawning clear and dry, Stark decided to put his attack plan into action. He sent a detachment of New Hampshire militia under Colonel Moses Nichols on a wide flanking march to the north of Baum's position while a mixed force under the command of Colonel Samuel Herrick marched around Baum's position to the south. To cover this encircling maneuver, Paid Advertisement

Stark detailed 100 men to keep the British attention. When, in the late afternoon, Nichols and Herrick started their attack from the rear, Stark took the remainder of his force and attacked straight down the road at the front of the British position. A small force broke off this frontal attack and engaged the Tory troops positioned to the south of the road.

With surprise and an overwhelming numerical advantage of two to one, Stark easily overran the British position. Most attacks involved one volley and then a charge into the trenches. In a short time the battle was over and the British forces were either captured or dead. Colonel Baum and the Tory commander Colonel Francis Pfister, both received wounds that would end their lives.

In the aftermath of the battle, the American troops became scattered and divorced from their units. Some chased the beaten British forces, while others attended to the wounded. The prisoners were rounded up and troops were detailed to send them back to Bennington. In all of this disorder Breymann's relief column finally arrived on the scene.

A small group of Americans, chasing the defeated soldiers, stumbled upon this disciplined force, fired a ragged volley and quickly withdrew. The musket fire alerted nearby Americans and they quickly formed ranks to stop this new attack. With little order and the exhaustion of one battle Paid Advertisement

already fought, the Americans steadily gave ground before the British onslaught.

Camped in Manchester, the Green Mountain Boys were recovering from their losses at Hubbardton when the call for help at Bennington came. Riding ahead, Seth Warner took part in the first phase of the battle and, as the second British attack beat down, he exhorted the tired Americans to stand and wait for the troops from Manchester to arrive. Though small in number, these battle hardened troops stiffened the American line and resolve. Soon the superior American numbers came to bear on Breymann's force, and as the Americans pressed forward, the British started to fall back in good order. With victory again in their sights, the Americans charged and turned the well ordered retreat in an all out rout. Only the coming of night saved Breymann's force from the same fate as Baum's.

Also see . . . The Battle of Bennington: An American Victory. National Park Service entry. (Submitted on November 28, 2008, by Howard C. Ohlhous of Duanesburg, New York.)


John Stark’s Northern Victory

The British strategy for winning the war at the outset of the rebellion in 1775 had struggled to gain coherence. Starting with Secretary of State for North America George Germain, wielding an unchecked sword of irregular and conflicting orders to the British commanders in America the generals on the ground themselves often felt compelled to follow through with their own orders over those of Parliament. British commander William Howe had chased Washington and the main body of the Continental army from New York and across New Jersey in 1776, only to face the embarrassing loses at Trenton and Princeton. As the campaigns of 1777 took shape, Howe had his eye on Philadelphia: the rebel capital. This made sense in some regards. Philadelphia, along with Boston, New York, and Charleston, was one of the largest ports in the colonies. Geographically centered in North America, if it were to fall in British hands, it could prove to be a decisive stroke that psychologically destroyed the rebellion. Howe became convinced, perhaps even so at the chance for personal glory, that capturing Philadelphia was a priority.

1891 print of the Bennington Monument, made the year the column was completed and dedicated by President Benjamin Harrison. Despite being named after the Vermont town, the actual battlefield is located entirely within New York State. Library of Congress

In making this his goal for 1777, Howe was perhaps jeopardizing the entire British strategy of the war. One of the primary directives was to hold the Hudson River (which is the reason why New York City was such a valuable prize). If the British could control both the northern and southern entry points to the river and provide threatening pressure on the waterway in the American interior, they could potentially cut off New England from the remaining colonies. This would isolate warring Massachusetts, with the hope of dividing the remaining colonies over whether the rebellion was worth their continuing support. The Americans were aware of this strategy. Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York had been a crucial point for both British and American armies. It had changed hands in 1775 as American forces seized precious artillery pieces, and then transported them by wagon back to Boston to dislodge the British from the city. The Continental Congress had also supported an invasion of British Canada, hoping that an insurrection would lead Canadians to support overthrowing their British authorities. This proved badly misjudged, and the British successfully ended any American threat to Canada. Remaining in control of the St. Lawrence river and Lake Champlain, British forces plotted to use the Hudson River to their advantage. The plan in 1777 was to link a portion of Howe’s army up with that of Gen. John Burgoyne, whose forces were marching south from Lake Champlain. Howe, instead, kept his forces together in order to take Philadelphia. This decision by Howe, perhaps more than anything else, had major consequences for the events in 1777.

Without Howe to support him, Burgoyne had to rely on the forces under his command. By July 1777, his army consisted of a mixture of British regulars, Hessian mixed units, and Native American allies, totaling about 8,000 troops. Burgoyne was successful in driving the Americans out of their northern fortifications, including Fort Ticonderoga, in July, and then again at the Battle of Hubbardton, Vermont, on July 7, though his forces then stopped to regroup. In the coming weeks, trekking through the American interior proved dire to the health of his army. Critical supplies such as wagons, food, and most of all, horses, began to wear thin. The retreating Americans had sabotaged the roads, and it became apparent that if he could not find a depot to raid or receive supplies from the British on the Hudson River, Burgoyne’s army could very well disintegrate before they could Albany, New York.

As this was happening, Col. John Stark was busy making trouble with orders he’d received from the Continental Congress. Stark, a veteran of Bunker Hill and the New Jersey victories, who’d commanded the New Hampshire Line, was sent back north to recruit more soldiers at Washington’s request. However, he soon learned that he had been passed over for promotion for an officer he deemed incompetent. He abruptly tendered his resignation with the Continental army. New Hampshire then offered him a commission as a brigadier general of the New Hampshire militia, which Stark agreed to under one condition: he would not take orders from any officer in the Continental army. The first test of this ‘condition’ occurred when American Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln found Stark and ordered his troops to Albany in support of American commander Philip Schuyler. Stark refused and remained guarding the countryside north of Albany. Flocking to the popular leader were hundreds of regional militia. Within six days, he had raised a force of 1,500.

In the meantime, Burgoyne’s army was running out of gas. He badly needed supplies and horses for his cavalry (they were on foot). Intelligence detected possible stores in the nearby vicinity of Manchester, Vermont. On August 4, Burgoyne gave orders to his subordinate, Baron Riedesel, to prepare a detachment to descend on Manchester. Riedesel protested the orders. The country was far too vast and full of hostile rebels. Without knowing how many rebels they were facing, it seemed ludicrus to send a small force out that may have to engage in a major assault. Burgoyne had to decide whether he wanted a raiding party or a large enough detachment that could combat any American force of size. After receiving new reports from local spies, Burgoyne then changed his mind, and ordered a detachment to make for Bennington, Vermont, where it was thought a large rebel supply depot was being guarded by the remanants of the small American force defeated at Hubbardton. Burgoyne sent Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum with about 600 troops to raid the depot at Bennington and remove the threat of any lingering Americans. Leaving Fort Edward on August 9, Baum assembled mixed units of Hessian light infantry, about 100 Native American fighters, an artillery regiment with two field pieces, and hundreds of Tories (American Loyalists) picked up en route. All told he had about 800 - 1,000 men under his command. One has to wonder though the prudence of this order. Though understandably short on supplies, Baum did not lead his forces in what would constitute a ‘stealth’ operation. Where speed and deception were most likely his greatest allies in achieving his objective, Baum instead took his time and had the regiment musicians play marching tunes the entire way.

After ironing out his independent command, and quite aware of the dangers Burgoyne’s presence was to the region, Stark arrived with his militia of 1,500 troops in Bennington, unaware of Baum’s approach. He had intended to link up with other Americans in Manchester but broke with orders again and decided to camp at Bennington. Upon learning of the actual numbers of rebels guarding Bennington from deserters, the Hessian commander sent word off to Burgoyne that the depot was not guarded by a few hundred Americans, but by nearly 1,800. A reconnaissance detachment under the command of Continental Lieutenant Colonel William Gregg met Baum’s advance guards on August 13, where the Americans fired a few shots and destroyed a bridge before retreating back toward Bennington. Baum had little choice but to follow the Walloomsac River as he approached the town.

The American army that awaited in Bennington was hardly a force one could label as such. Most of Stark’s men were farmers and locals who had literally grabbed their powder horns and rifles from their houses and fell in with whomever was leading them to the central fixture of their calling. Stark remarked that most of his men wore colorful civilian dress and hardly looked like a professional army. And that very well could have been fatal to what was about to transpire. If the undisciplined militia forces were incapable of bravery and holding their own in the heat of battle, the numbers advantage they held over Baum’s troops would not matter one bit. Stark would have to consider this when planning his strategy. Baum reached the outskirts of Bennington on August 14 and began assembling breastworks on a hill northwest of the town. Skirmishes and quick volley exchanges from both sides could be heard throughout the day. Several Native Americans were wounded or killed, prompting the remaining fighters to threaten abandoning the whole operation. Caution reigned over the British encampment that evening. The following morning, August 15, a sudden rain storm halted any further advancements toward the depot.

Baum had his forces spread out mainly north of Bennington. The breastworks had become a redoubt made of logs and timber, housing the dragoons under Captain Alexander Fraser. Light infantry covered the lower ground near the river while about sixty troopers guarded the two three-pounder cannons on the raised hillside. The remaining bulk of Baum’s forces watched over the main road and bridge, a mixture of British sharpshooters and Hessian jägers (pronounced “Yay-gers”), known as Brunswickers. Another redoubt was positioned east of the Walloomsac River. The last of the forces guarded the baggage and stolen goods from colonial farms and houses. Apparently a great many of the Native American fighters were seen to be lingering in the rear to protect their loot. As he waited, Baum received orders from Burgoyne that he could expect reinforcements within a day or two. In the meantime, the decision to attack or to withdrawal would rest on Baum’s judgment. Burgoyne ordered Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich Breymann to reinforce Baum. The decision was not without its curiosities. Breymann and Baum had apparently been rivals and were not known to hold a high opinion of each other. Breymann was also a notoriously slow marcher. Add these elements to a secondary expedition that did not threaten the main body of the British army, and we can see the circumstances do not speak highly of Burgoyne’s judgment over what he had just gotten himself into. Whatever can be said of Breymann’s conduct, his march was tempered with haphazard and miserable road and terrain conditions.

The morning of August 16 brought a break in the clouds, and it was precisely the moment Stark had been planning for. Having gathered enough intelligence on Baum’s positions, Stark decided to split his forces into three separate divisions. The mixed British units were dug in and were most likely awaiting reinforcements before making a major move for the town. Stark devised if he could attack Baum simultaneously with all three of his divisions, it might be enough to overwhelm them into abandoning their positions. He considered his men, and how they might behave if they witnessed wave after wave of Americans gunned down. It could break the ranks and end the assault. No, Stark would have to divide his entire force as they advanced. One detachment would break off and go around the Hessian left flank while another would march south and swing around to the enemy’s rear. Another detachment would storm the loyalist redoubt. Stark would lead the remaining Americans to assault the center. His plan depended upon a combined execution of timing, precision, and more than a bit of luck. As the Americans were about to get underway, Brigadier General John Stark gave a speech to his men. What was said is not known however, almost every story to follow undeniably has him proclaiming, “There are the redcoats and they are ours, or Molly Stark sleeps a widow tonight!”

At 3pm, Stark’s three divisions made their move. The initial advance startled the Hessian scouts, who promptly fell back toward the redoubts. An intense firefight broke out that Stark later said was, “the hottest engagement I have ever witnessed.” While the assault was underway, Lieutenant Colonel Moses Nichols led his division wide left of the redoubt to the north of the Walloomsac River. Apparently, Baum mistakenly thought these men were abandoning the field from the intensity of the fight. As the battle proceeded, Baum saw these men approaching from the north, and seeing that they were dressed in civilian clothing, mistakenly took them to be loyalists. The Americans reached the redoubts and opened fire at close range, completely overwhelming the Hessian and British defenses. Meanwhile, the American southerly detachment under the command of Colonel Samuel Herrick crossed the river from the east and made their way west below the Tory redoubt. They then crossed the Walloomsac’s winding form again and came up directly behind both the Tory and dragoon redoubts. The overwhelming onslaught of Stark’s men drove Baum’s forces from their positions. What fight Baum’s men put up was quickly doused by superior numbers. Close quarters fighting muddied the redoubts. The cannons fell silent. A disorganized and scattered retreat came over the mixed troops. American sharpshooters and militia fired at anything that was running away from them. Many troops were slowed by their uniforms and packs - much heavier and tiresome compared with the civilian wear of the militia. Others made it through the trees and brush and tried to hide.

On the northern flank in the low ground by the river, what Brunswickers and mixed troops remained under the command of Baum, had now engaged the Americans who had successfully overtaken the redoubts. Once the Hessians ran out of ammunition, they drew their swords and proceeded to hack their way free of the swarming Americans. Those Germans who did not break free died on the field. Baum himself was mortally wounded as he fled on foot toward a hill that contained the last of his defenses. He was taken to a nearby house, but there was nothing his surgeon could do for him.

The battle seemed to be a complete victory for Stark’s men disorder and plunder reigned over the triumphant Americans on the battlefield. Hessian commander Breymann soon made his approach toward Bennington with over 600 men and two six-pounders. A handful of fleeing soldiers from the battle made their way to his divisions and gave conflicting accounts of what had just happened. Sensing the battle was still in full swing, Breymann advanced at once onto the battlefield. American pickets opened fire before scattering, alerting the approaching troops of the hostile environment before them. Breymann established a line of attack to the north of the Walloomsac River. Stark’s men were disorganized and exhausted from over two hours of continuous fighting. Bringing order to the militia was surprisingly easier than one would think, but what gains they had just made were now in jeopardy of being lost with their lives. At this very moment, by a stroke of good fortune, 300 of Col. Seth Warner’s Green Mountain Boys arrived from Manchester. Taking to the center and joining with Stark’s now reformed divisions, they hammered the Hessian commanded lines that approached. Breymann’s attempts to thwart a rout were dashed. Both armies of men were exhausted from marching and fighting in the humid weather. But the Americans had more soldiers worth their salt, and a bayonet charge into the German line broke what remained of the reinforcements to Baum’s expedition.

Statue of General John Stark at the state capital of Concord. Unlike many other Revolutionary War generals, Stark refused to enter politics in the new United States Library of Congress

Unlike Baum, Breymann managed to escape with his life. In all, over 200 soldiers had been killed by Stark’s men, with another 700 taken prisoner. In the days that followed, Burgoyne had to accept that the mission to raid the rebel supply depot was a fool’s errand. He had wasted nearly 1,000 of his troops in the failed attempt to take Bennington. It seems the complaint by his subordinate Riedesel that the expedition was either too weak to combat a major rebel force, or too large to maneuver with the necessary speed to perform a stealth mission, had been the correct judgment all along. To make matters worse, of the 400 or so Native American fighters that accompanied Burgoyne’s army at the start of his campaign, only a few dozen remained after Bennington. It seems they lost their appetite for participating in the British insurrection. This, coupled with the failure to get the supplies he needed for the army, forced Burgoyne to take a defensive position and await for help to come from British command in New York.

The other concern for Burgoyne was the Northern command of the Continental army. While Washington was commander in chief of the entire army, and personally led the main forces in Pennsylvania, the northern army was commanded by Gen. Philip Schuyler in Albany. Soon, Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates would be the new commanding officer with the sole objective of destroying Burgoyne. The eventual clash of the two armies in October near Saratoga, New York would effectively change the course of the war forever. But we must not overlook the importance of what occurred at Bennington on August 16, 1777. The Americans led by John Stark had annihilated a sizable portion of Burgoyne’s forces. This led to him having no choice but to call off any attack on Albany. Isolated and ever being surrounded, Burgoyne’s fate was set in motion with the failed attempt to raid Bennington.

Today, John Stark is considered a hero in Vermont and New Hampshire. A residential neighborhood weaves through the former battlefield while a country club backs up to the Walloomsac River, giving the country a far different appearance than it had in August 1777. The area remains rich in history, and ready for wider recognition as being a pivotal battle in American history.

Richard M. Ketchum, Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War, (New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1997). Chapter 15: The Dismal Place of Bennington, pp. 285-305. Chapter 16: A Continual Clap of Thunder, pp. 306-328.

Max M. Mintz, The Generals of Saratoga, (New Haven, Yale University Press, 1990). Chapter 15: Defiance, pp. 167-177.


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