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Battle of Bennington, 16 August 1777

Battle of Bennington, 16 August 1777

Battle of Bennington, 16 August 1777

Minor battle during the American War of Independence that played an role in weakening Burgoyne's army before its defeat at Saratoga. Burgoyne had reached Fort Edward on the Hudson on 30 July 1777, but had found the fort an empty ruin. The British force was desperately short of supplies after their march through the wilderness, and their supply line back to Ticonderoga was long and slow. Baron Friedrich Adolph von Riedesel, the commander of the German contingent, suggested a raid eastwards towards the Connecticut River where food could be found for the troops as could horses for the now horseless Brunswick dragoons. The British were aware that there was an American magazine at Bennington, a town close to 30 miles to the south-east of the main British position across very wild countryside. Convinced by reports that the area was strongly Loyalist, and would rush to the aid of any British army, and that the magazine was only guarded by a militia detachment, Burgoyne sent a detachment only 600 strong, commanded by Lt. Colonel Baum, a German who spoke no English.

This force departed on 11 August. It was soon clear that they faced stronger opposition than had been expected, and against his orders, which were to keep moving, Baum sent back a report of his situation, and settled down into a defensive position, for which he was posthumously much blamed by Burgoyne. A relief column was dispatched on the 14th, but failed to arrive in time to help. Meanwhile, on 15 August Baum found himself surrounded by a militia force twice the size of his own expedition, commanded by Brigadier General John Stark.

The following day, having received news of the relief column, Stark attacked. Baum's force had been deserted by their Indian allies and had not received the influx of loyalists that they had expected. Nevertheless, they fought on until they ran out of ammo, at which point they attempted to break out armed just with their swords. This too failed, and almost the entire force was killed or captured. Baum himself was amongst the dead. Later on the same day the relief column arrived, to find Baum and his force destroyed, and the American militia now reinforced by a detachment of Continentals. This relief force suffered the same fate as the original detachment.

All in all, Bennington cost Burgoyne close to one thousand casualties, men he could not replace, and helped to weaken the morale of his army, previously quite high. Burgoyne would march to Saratoga without adequate supplies.


See AlsoBooks on the American War of IndependenceSubject Index: American War of Independence


Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site

Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site is the Rensselaer County, New York location where the Battle of Bennington occurred on the 16th of August 1777. Here, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts militia under General John Stark rebuffed a British attempt led by Colonel Friedrich Baum to capture American stores. The American victory cut off supplies to British General John Burgoyne as he made his push toward Albany, New York and set the stage for his subsequent surrender at Saratoga. It was declared a National Historic Landmark on 1961 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places when the Register was created in 1966.

It is located on Route 67 in Walloomsac, New York, and is owned by New York State and by private owners.

Although the battle took place at this site entirely within New York State, the Bennington Monument, about 10 miles (16 km) away in Vermont, also commemorates the Battle of Bennington.

An American flag and historical marker at the entrance to the historic site

(Top down) American, New York State, Prisoner of War and New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation flags fly atop the hill at the battlefield

A topographical map depicting the area at the time of the battle

A plaque erected by the state of New Hampshire commemorating the achievements of John Stark and the New Hampshire militia

A plaque erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts commemorating the achievements of the volunteer militia

A plaque erected by the state of Vermont commemorating the achievements of the Vermont militia and their comrades

A historical plaque erected at the entrance to the site describing the battle

Map of Bennington battlefield

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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, 16 August 1777 - History

The Continental Army stored their military equipment and artillery at Bennington, New York, which is known today as Walloomsac, New York. Bennington, Vermont is a few miles east of Walloomsac.

The Battle of Bennington took place on August 16, 1777 between a British raiding party and colonialist militiamen. General John Burgoyne was the Commander of the British Army and he needed supplies. He sent a regiment of 800 soldiers, including British, Germans, Loyalists, and Indians, under Colonel Friedrich Baum, a German Hessian, to capture Bennington and bring back the supplies for the British Army.

At the same time, about 1,600 New England militiamen and Green Mountain Boys led by General John Stark were going to Bennington to get more supplies. This group of men had been recruited by Ethan Allen and Seth Warner. When they met the British on the outskirts of town, the militiamen ambushed the British soldiers.

The Hessians were surrounded by troops from New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts. They fought until they ran out of ammunition and then surrendered to the Continental forces.

Both sides had called for reinforcements. Hessian Lieutenant Colonel Breymann came with 642 men and began to take control of the battle. Just when it looked like the Americans would lose, Lieutenant Colonel Seth Warner arrived with reinforcements. When Lieutenant Colonel Breymann had lost over one-third of his men, he retreated.

There were 207 British killed and 700 more taken as prisoners. Colonel Baum was killed in the battle. Only thirty Americans were killed and forty wounded.

The Continental victory at the Battle of Bennington spread through the Colonies and the morale of the Continentals was increased.


BENNINGTON, BATTLE OF

BENNINGTON, BATTLE OF (16 August 1777). In mid-August 1777 the British general John Burgoyne planned a raid on the American stores at Bennington, Vermont. His purpose was fourfold: to encourage the Loyalists, frighten New England, replenish his stock of provisions, and mount a regiment of heavily equipped German dragoons. Accordingly, these dragoons, lumbering along on foot in their enormous jackboots and stiff leather breeches, were made the nucleus of a raiding force of about 800 Tories, Canadians, Indians, and English under the command of the German colonel Frederich Baum. Nearing Bennington, Baum learned that the American general John Stark had assembled about 1,500 troops at Bennington to oppose him, and he sent to Burgoyne for reinforcements. Colonel Heinrich von Breyman, with about 500 men, was sent to his aid.

In the meantime, Stark, hearing of Baum's advance, marched to meet him. His attack on the afternoon of 16 August exposed severe weaknesses in the English lines: Baum's command was too widely dispersed his auxiliaries were scattered and his regulars, hastily entrenched on a hill overlooking the Walloomsac River, were surrounded and most of them captured. Meanwhile, Breyman, ignorant of the battle, approached. Stark, now reinforced by Colonel Seth Warner with 350 men, re-formed and attacked. The Germans retreated and were pursued until dark. The Americans took about 700 prisoners. The victory did much to improve the morale of the American forces.


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.


American Revolution: Battle of Bennington, August 16, 1777

The Battle of Bennington was a battle of the American Revolutionary War, part of the Saratoga campaign, that took place on August 16, 1777, in Walloomsac, New York, about 10 miles (16 km) from its 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.

Baum's detachment was a mixed force of 700 composed of dismounted Brunswick dragoons, Canadians, Loyalists, and Indians. He was sent by Burgoyne to raid Bennington in the disputed New Hampshire Grants area for horses, draft animals, and other supplies. Believing the town to be only lightly defended, Burgoyne and Baum were unaware that Stark and 1,500 militiamen were stationed there. After a rain-caused standoff, Stark's men enveloped Baum's position, taking many prisoners, and killing Baum. Reinforcements for both sides arrived as Stark and his men were mopping up, and the battle restarted, with Warner and Stark driving away Breymann's reinforcements with heavy casualties.

The battle was a decisive victory[2] for the rebel cause, as it reduced Burgoyne's army in size by almost 1,000 men, led his Indian support to largely abandon him, and deprived him of needed supplies such as cavalry and draft horses and food, all factors that contributed to Burgoyne's eventual surrender at Saratoga. The victory also galvanized colonial support for the independence movement, and played a role in bringing France into the war on the rebel side. The battle anniversary is celebrated in the state of Vermont as Bennington Battle Day.

Notes from Wiki:

American and Vermont troops

New Hampshire militia regiments

Hobart's Regiment of Militia 150

Nichols' Regiment of Militia 550

Stickney's Regiment of Militia 150

Langdon's Company of Light Horse Volunteers (number unknown, were infantry at the time)

Additional New Hampshire militia 1,000

Vermont militia regiments

Additional Vermont Rangers 200

Massachusetts militia regiments

Simonds' Regiment of Militia (number unknown)

Continental Regiments

Warner's Additional Continental Regiment (Green Mountain Boys, commanded by Safford) 150


Roll of New Hampshire soldiers at the battle of Bennington, August 16, 1777

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The Battle of Bennington

The Battle of Bennington, which took place in modern-day Hoosick Falls, New York (not in Bennington, Vermont as often believed), is considered the turning point in the northern theater that led to the eventual British surrender at Saratoga in October 1777. Although the Battle of Bennington is rarely if ever discussed in American history books (especially when compared to battles such as Trenton, Saratoga, and Yorktown), a visit to the well-preserved battlefield and other historic sites is an educational experience that will bring this important battle and those who fought to life!

In the summer of 1777, General George Washington and his army anxiously waited to see where British General William Howe would land his massive army after leaving New York. At the same time, British General John Burgoyne and his force of nearly 8,000 soldiers were marching south through New York as part of what is now known as the Saratoga Campaign. The Battle of Bennington is considered a part of that campaign, along with the British capture of Fort Ticonderoga, the Battle of Hubbardton, and of course, the Battle of Saratoga.

Throughout the summer, General Burgoyne’s army fought its way south through New York in hopes of dividing New England from the rest of the colonies (a plan that could have been effective if General Howe had headed north to meet him from New York instead of occupying Philadelphia). As the campaign season stretched on and the British Army moved further into the wilderness, General Burgoyne realized that his army faced a serious supply problem. The solution seemed to be in Bennington, where American provisions were stored along with a great deal of horses and draft animals. By late summer 1777, Bennington became a prime target for the British army.

On August 11, General Burgoyne detached a contingent of nearly 800 troops (comprised of Canadians, Tories, British regulars, Native Americans, and German mercenary troops that many often refer to as “Hessians”) under the command of Lt. Colonel Friedrich Baum to capture the American stores at Bennington, which were believed to be lightly defended. What the British were not aware of were the 1,500 militiamen from New Hampshire under General John Stark and militia from Vermont (the Green Mountain Boys under Seth Warner) and western Massachusetts that were quickly raised to meet the threat.

On August 14, Lt. Colonel Baum learned of the sizable force gathering to oppose him and decided to dig in upon a hill approximately five miles west of Bennington (in New York) to await reinforcements from the main army. General Stark also set up camp a few miles west of Bennington (and east of the eventual battlefield), where local militia continued to gather on the 14th and 15th. After a day of heavy rain that delayed action, General Stark and his force of nearly 2,000 American militia finally had their opportunity to strike.

The hill that Lt. Colonel Baum fortified to await reinforcements Recreated British fortifications on the battlefield

The Battle of Bennington began around 3pm on August 16, 1777. It was reported that prior to the battle General Stark told his men something to the effect of: “there are the redcoats and they are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow” or as author Michael Gabriel writes in his book The Battle of Bennington: Soldiers & Civilians, “tonight our flag floats over yonder hill or Molly Stark sleeps a widow.” Whatever he may have said, it was clear that General Stark was all in for the assault and his rallying cry had the intended effect. The combined American force strategically attacked the fortified British position from all sides.

Map of the opening stages of the battle – Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site

The fierce fighting lasted nearly two hours, as the American militia overwhelmed the extended front of troops under Baum’s command. The “first battle” essentially ended when a last-ditch saber charge by the Brunswick dragoons failed and Lt. Colonel Baum was mortally wounded (he would later die). What is known as the “second battle” began when reinforcements under Lt. Colonel Heinrich Von Breymann arrived from the west however, a fresh American force under Seth Warner deployed to meet this threat and drove them back, as sporadic fighting went on until sunset that evening.

The battle ended in an American victory- 207 British/Hessian soldiers were killed and around 700 taken prisoner (there were 30 American killed and 40 wounded). Following the battle, General Stark described the action as “the hottest engagement I have ever witnessed, resembling a continual clap of thunder.” The Battle of Bennington prevented the British Army from gaining much-needed supplies, slowed General Burgoyne’s advance, and stripped his army of nearly 1,000 troops and any future support from the local native tribes.

Interesting Facts

  • The Bennington Flag, which has long been associated with the battle, was never actually flown during the fight
  • The Battle of Bennington took place in modern-day Hoosick Falls, New York (not in Bennington, Vermont)
  • Many of the Tories (who fought on the British side) and Patriot militia who fought in the battle were neighbors, which added an entirely new dynamic to the fighting
  • The Bennington Battle Monument is considered the tallest structure in the state of Vermont

Our Visit & Recommendations

The Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site (NY-67, Hoosick Falls, NY 12090) is located just west of the Walloomsac River and a short distance to the Vermont state border. It was a stunning (and sweltering) summer day when we made the trek into the wilds of eastern New York to visit the battlefield and other historic sites in the area.

The entrance to the state park is well-marked and a winding drive through the woods will take you to a small parking lot, a pavilion for a picnic, and the preserved portion of the battlefield. Of note, there is a second parking lot near the top of the hill, which is ideal if you don’t desire to walk up the somewhat steep incline to see the monuments at the top.

The main portion of the battlefield that remains is the hill that Lt. Colonel Baum fortified (although there were other areas where fighting took place around the hill). There are a few monuments placed around the hill, two rebuilt fortifications, and on the very top of the hill, a flag pole and multiple signs that provide a detailed description of that day’s action. We took the time to read each sign and gain a true understanding of what happened during the fighting on that August day.

After walking the grounds and learning about the battle and disposition of the forces, we visited the small information hut that is near the base of the hill by the parking lot. This hut is not staffed, but it offers additional information about the battle, has a collection of free information pamphlets about nearby historic sites, and also has public bathrooms.

Following our exploration of the battlefield, we set off on the approximately 15 minute drive towards Bennington, Vermont. On the way we stumbled across a monument on the side of an unpaved road (Harrington Road), which marks the location of General John Stark’s camping ground from August 14-16, 1777. The expansive green field still maintains a pastoral charm and you can almost imagine the men camped out there (it also gives you a good idea of how Stark positioned his men between the Baum’s army and the American storehouse in Bennington).

This monument marks the location of General Stark’s camp and is placed alongside Harrington Road

Perhaps the most iconic site in the area is the towering Bennington Battle Monument, which marks the location of the American storehouse in Bennington, Vermont (a smaller monument specifically mentions the storehouse and is located near the gift shop). Standing at 306 feet 4.5 inches tall, the remarkable obelisk monument was completed and dedicated in 1891 with President Benjamin Harrison in attendance.

The nearby Bennington Battle Monument gift shop offers a fantastic variety of books, Vermont local goods, souvenirs, and colonial/historic items, along with a friendly welcome. If you wish to go to the observation deck of the monument (where you can view three different states), adult tickets can be purchased in the gift shop for $5 ($1 for children ages 6-14). If you don’t wish to tackle the towering heights of the monument, a relaxing stroll around the grounds is certainly not to be missed! Statues of John Stark and Seth Warner grace either side of the monument offering fantastic photo opportunities and the surrounding green fields are great for an afternoon picnic.

After exploring the Bennington Battle Monument and the grounds, we drove into quaint downtown Bennington for one last historic stop before lunch. The Old First Church (originally organized in 1762 with the current sanctuary dedicated in 1806) and its cemetery known as “Vermont’s Sacred Acre” are a must see when visiting Bennington. This cemetery is home to some of Vermont’s greatest leaders and innovators, to include the renowned poet Robert L. Frost.

In relation to the Battle of Bennington, this cemetery is the final resting place for at least 16 Hessian soldiers and 13 American soldiers and a monument stands in the cemetery dedicated to these men.

The day of exploring really worked up our hunger, so we decided to grab lunch in town at the delicious Madison Brewing Company Pub & Restaurant (428 Main St, Bennington, VT 05201). If you are looking for a ridiculously tasty burger and a cold beer, this is the place for you (don’t forget to try to truffle fries)! They also sell their beer in cans to go- I highly recommend the Downtown IPA and the Sucker Pond Blonde. We decided to finish off our time in Vermont with some kayaking at nearby Lake Paran. It was a great afternoon on the water and Daisy could not have been happier!

Book recommendation: The Battle of Bennington: Soldiers and Civilians, by: Michael P. Gabriel


The Battle of Bennington

By the end of July 1777, General John Burgoyne’s invasion of New York had progressed as far south as Fort Edward (immediately east of Glens Falls). The plan was to capture Albany and join with other British forces advancing from New York City and the Mohawk Valley. New York would again be under British control and the rebellious colonies would be divided.

However, Burgoyne’s supply lines from Canada were growing longer and less secure. His German mercenaries, mostly Brunswickers (the Americans tended to call all such mercenaries “Hessians”) had no cavalry horses and his army was short of beef, wagons, and draft animals. With little regard for the rebels’ military skills, he proposed that Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum lead an expedition into Vermont and New Hampshire to forage for supplies. Hearing that the American storehouses at Bennington, Vermont were poorly defended, Burgoyne ordered instead that Baum capture them. Half of Baum’s troops were Brunswickers the remainder were Canadians, British sharpshooters, Tories and Indians.

The intelligence Burgoyne had received was inaccurate. Vermont’s Council of Safety, aware of his approach, had sent out a call for help. New Hampshire had responded by sending 1,500 troops under John Stark. Stark’s men and a smaller force of Vermont militia under Seth Warner were near Bennington as Baum’s expedition was preparing to attack.

Baum set out on the forty-mile trek to Bennington on August 11, but the unmounted cavalrymen in their cumbersome uniforms (plus Baum’s strict adherence to European military formalities) slowed the march. One of his officers later wrote that “one prodigious forest, bottomed in swamps and morasses, covered the whole face of the country.”

The raiders met and drove off a rebel scouting party at Sancoicks Mills on August 14. After dispatching a request for reinforcements, Baum advanced four miles to a hill overlooking the Walloomsac River. Only five miles from Bennington, Baum’s men entrenched on and around this hill, awaiting further American resistance.

After a day of rain, Stark decided on August 16 to send two columns of his troops against Baum’s flanks and rear while the remainder assaulted the front. The attack began at 3:00 pm. Many Indians, Canadians and Tories fled or surrendered after the first musket volleys, but the unmounted cavalrymen held position, fighting off the attackers with sabres. Baum himself died in the battle Stark would later describe it as “one continuous clap of thunder” which lasted two hours before the hill was finally taken.

Stark’s men had barely cheered the victory when news arrived that Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Breymann was approaching with the requested reinforcements. Fortunately, Warner’s Vermont militia arrived in time to meet this advance. The Vermonters pushed back the Brunswickers and pursued them until sundown. “But had daylight lasted one hour longer,” Stark reported later, “we should have taken the whole body of them.”

The British had severely underestimated the strength of the enemy. Baum and over two hundred of his men were dead, and most of the remainder (some 700) were taken prisoner, while only 40 Americans had been killed and 30 wounded. Burgoyne had failed to obtain his needed supplies. His army was thus weaker against the Continental forces at Saratoga, and after two unsuccessful battles he surrendered on October 17, 1777.

Bennington Battle Day is observed on August 16. Vermont could thus be the only State in the Union which, in its one and only official state holiday (government offices are closed and metered parking is free) commemorates an event which did not even take place within the state’s boundaries.

Present-day Charlestown, New Hampshire was once known simply as Village Number 4. The restored “Fort at No. 4” at Charlestown is the fort from which Stark and his troops departed for Bennington.


Battle of Bennington, 16 August 1777 - History

Fought on August 16, 1777, this battle allowed Vermont to declare its independence.

By early August 1777, British General John Burgoyne was in need of horses and food for his troops, who had been traversing the forests of western New York during the Saratoga Campaign. On August 11, Burgoyne sent a mostly German force (along with Canadians, British sharpshooters, Tories and Indians) under Colonel Friedrich Baum into the Connecticut River Valley to gather horses, saddles, cattle, etc. The original orders did not specify where Baum was supposed to go, but they were amended at the last minute to send Baum to Bennington, Vermont, where a significant supply of horses and cattle was said to be only lightly defended.

Baum's forces met resistance from the beginning of their march, but it wasn't until they met and routed a small scouting party that they learned Bennington was better defended then had been believed. On August 14, Baum sent a message to Burgoyne saying that he would need reinforcements in order to take the needed supplies.

map of the Battle of Bennington

When Baum arrived at Walloomsac, New York, about 10 miles outside Bennington, Vermont, on August 16 he saw a much larger American force, led by Brigadier General John Stark, waiting for him. The outnumbered Germans took up fortified positions on a hill overloking the Walloomsac River and hoped that the heavy rain then falling would delay the Americans long enough for reinforcements to arrive. The rain subsided by mid-afternoon, and Stark began his assault on the hill at about 3 pm. The Germans fought valiantly for about two hours, but Stark's men succeeded in taking the hill. Baum was among the Germans killed during the assault.

General Stark leads the charge at Bennington

The Americans were on the verge of a complete victory when a German relief column under Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Breymann arrived on the battlefield. Unfortunately for the Germans, however, Seth Warner also arrived with a combined force of regular army and Green Mountain Boys, and by nightfall the Americans had prevailed. By the end of the battle 207 British and German troops had been killed and another 700 captured by contrast, the Americans suffered 30 killed, 40 wounded, and none captured.

The Battle of Bennington cost Burgoyne almost a third of his army and left him seriously short on supplies, and that loss ultimately led to his surrender at Saratoga later that year. The role of the Green Mountain Boys in the American victory gave Vermont the confidence to declare its independence from both British and Continental Congress control, and August 16, 1777, is still celebrated as Vermont Independence Day.


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