Battle of Bennington


Battle of Bennington

The Battle of Bennington was a battle of the American Revolutionary War, taking place on August 16, 1777, in Walloomsac, New York, about 10 miles away from its namesake Bennington, Vermont. [Google map shows 10.0 miles driving from Bennington, VT to Wallomsac, NY. Precise distance between Bennington Monument and Bennington Battlefield may differ somewhat.] An American force of 2,000 New Hampshire and Massachusetts militiamen, led by General John Stark with aid from Colonel Seth Warner, along with elements of Vermont's Green Mountain Boys, defeated a combined force of 1,250 dismounted Brunswick dragoons, Canadians, Loyalists, and Native Americans led by Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum that
British General John Burgoyne was attempting to push through the northern Hudson River Valley. After the recent British victories at Hubbardton, Fort Ticonderoga, and St. Clair, Burgoyne's plan was to defeat the American forces and then continue south to Albany and onto the Hudson River Valley, dividing the American colonies in half. This was part of a grand plan to divide the rebellious New England colonies from the (believed) more loyal remaining colonies via a three-way pincer movement. However, the western pincer was repulsed (see Battle of Oriskany), and the southern pincer, which was to progress up the Hudson valley from New York City, never started since General Howe decided to attack Philadelphia instead of helping Burgoyne. General Baum found himself near Bennington on a foraging mission to supply Burgoyne's large number of horses and to resupply his soldiers with food.

However, Burgoyne's progress towards Albany had slowed to a crawl by late July, and his army's supplies began to dwindle. Burgoyne sent a detachment of about 800 troops under the command of the Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum from Fort Miller. Half of Baum's detachment was made up of dismounted Brunswick dragoons of the Prinz Ludwig regiment, while the other half consisted of local Loyalists, Canadians, and Native Americans. Baum was ordered to raid the supply depot at Bennington, which was believed to be guarded by fewer than 400 colonial militia.

On August 13, 1777, en route to Bennington, Baum learned of the arrival in the area of 1,500 New Hampshire militiamen under the command of General John Stark who, against General Washington's wishes, had decided to fortify the town of Bennington. Baum ordered his forces to stop at the Walloomsac River, about four miles (6 km) west of Bennington. After sending a request for reinforcements to Fort Miller, Baum took advantage of the terrain and deployed his forces on the high ground. In the rain, Baum's men constructed a small redoubt at the crest of the hill and hoped that the weather would prevent the Americans from attacking before reinforcements arrived. Deployed a few miles away, Stark decided to reconnoiter Baum's positions and wait until the weather cleared.

Battle

On the afternoon of August 16, 1777, the weather cleared, and Stark ordered his men ready to attack. Stark is reputed to have rallied his troops by saying, "There are your enemies, the Red Coats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow." Upon hearing that the militia had melted away into the woods, Baum assumed that the Americans were retreating or redeploying. However, Stark had recognized that Baum's forces were spread thin and decided immediately to envelop them from two sides while simultaneously charging Baum's central redoubt head-on. The Loyalists and Native Americans fled. This left Baum and his Brunswick dragoons trapped alone on the high ground. The Germans fought valiantly even after running low on powder. The dragoons led a sabre charge and tried to break through the enveloping forces. However, after this final charge failed and Baum was mortally wounded, the Germans surrendered.

Shortly after this battle ended, while the New Hampshire Militia were disarming the German troops, Baum's reinforcements arrived. The German reinforcements, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Breymann, saw the Americans in disarray and pressed their attack immediately. After hastily regrouping, Stark's forces tried to hold their ground against the German onslaught. Before their lines collapsed, a group of several hundred Vermont militiamen arrived to reinforce Stark's troops. The Green Mountain Boys, commanded by Seth Warner, had been defeated at the Battle of Hubbardton by British reinforcements and were eager to exact their revenge on the enemy. Together, the New Hampshire and Vermont militias repulsed and finally stopped Breymann's force.

Results

Total German & British losses at Bennington were recorded at 207 dead and 700 captured; American losses included 40 Americans dead and 30 wounded. Stark's decision to intercept and destroy the raiding party before they could reach Bennington was a crucial factor in Burgoyne's eventual surrender, because it deprived his army of supplies.

The American victory at Bennington also galvanized the rebels and was a catalyst for French involvement in the war.

August 16 is a legal holiday in Vermont, known as Bennington Battle Day. The battle is further commemorated by the 306-foot (93 m) tall Bennington Battle Monument in Old Bennington.

References

* Ketchum, Richard M.; "Saratoga: Turning Point of America's Revolutionary War"; 1997, Henry Holt & Company, ISBN 0-8050-4681-X; (Paperback ISBN 0-8050-6123-1)

ee also

Bennington Battlefield, the National Historic Landmarked site of the battle in Walloomsac, New York

New Hampshire militia regiments:Hale's Regiment of Militia:Hobart's Regiment of Militia:Nichols' Regiment of Militia:Stickney's Regiment of Militia:Langdon's Company of Light Horse VolunteersVermont militia regiments:Green Mountain Boys:Herrick's RegimentMassachusetts militia regiments:Simonds' Regiment of Militia

External links

* [http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/107bennington/107bennington.htm "The Battle of Bennington: An American Victory," a National Park Service Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) lesson plan]
* [http://www.generalatomic.com/AmericanHistory/battle_of_bennington.html Battle of Bennington]
* [http://www.benningtonmuseum.com/vewebsite/exhibit1/e10002a.htm A history of the Bennington Flag]


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