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Contemporary remarks on the Battle of Bennington
August 16, 1777

transcribed by James P. Millard from

Hadden's Journal and Orderly Books: A Journal Kept in Canada and Upon Burgoyne's Campaign in 1776 and 1777, by Lieut. James M. Hadden, Roy. Art 1

John Stark statue at Bennington Battlefield Monument

The Battle of Bennington, while not fought directly on either Lake Champlain or Lake George, should be considered when studying the early history of the historic lakes region.

This important Revolutionary War engagement was fought between troops of Burgoyne's army pushing south down the lakes toward Albany and those of American Colonial Militia under Gen. John Stark


  John Stark Memorial, Bennington, Vermont
  Photo by Jim Millard

The following quotations are taken verbatim from Hadden's Journal:
Extract of a Letter from Brig'r General Stark, to the Council of the State of New Hampshire, dated Bennington 18th August 1777.---


I congratulate you on the late success of your Troops under my command, by express I propose to give you a brief account of my proceedings since I wrote to you last.

I left Manchester on the 8th Inst, and arrived here the 9th, the 13th, I was informed that a party of Indians were at Cambridge, which is twelve Miles distant from this place, on their march hither. I detached Col'l Gregg, with 200 Men under his command, to stop their march. In the evening I had information by express, that there was a large body of the Enemy on their way, with their field Pieces, in order to march thro. the country, commanded by Governor Skeene.

The 14th I marched with my Brigade, and a few of this State's Militia to oppose them, and to cover Greggs retreat, who found himself unable to withstand their superior number; about four miles from this Town I accordingly met him on his return, and the Enemy close in pursuit of him, within half a Mile of his rear, but when they discover'd me, they presently halted on a very advantageous piece of ground; I drew up my little Army on an eminence, in open view of their encampment but could not bring them to an engagement; I marched back about a Mile and there encamped. I sent out a few Men to Skirmish with them, killed thirty of them and two Indian Chiefs.

The 15th it rained all day; I sent out parties to harrass them. The 16th I was joined by this State's Militia, and those of Berkshire County. I divided my Army into three divisions, and sent Colo'l Nicholas [Nichols] with 250 men on the rear of their left wing, Col. Henrick [Herrick] in the rear of their Right with 300 men, order'd when joined to attack the same.

In the meantime, I sent 300 men to oppose the enemies front to draw their attention that way; soon after I detached the Colonels Hubbard [Hobart] and Stickney on their Right Wing with 200 Men to attack that part; all which plans had their desired effect. Col Nichols sent me word that he stood in need of a reinforcement, which I readily granted, consisting of 100 Men at which time he commenced the attack precisely at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, which was followed by all the rest. I pushed forward the remainder with all speed.

Our people behaved with the greatest spirit an bravery immaginable; had they been Alexanders or Charles's of Sweden, they could not have behaved better; the Action lasted two Hours at the expiration of which time we forced their Breast-Actual Brass Cannon captured from the British at the Battle of Benningtonwork at the muzzles of their Guns, took two pieces of Brass Cannon, with a number of Prisoners; but before I cou'd get them into proper form, I received intelligence, that there was a large reinforcement within two Miles of us on their march, which occasioned us to renew our attack; but luckily for us Col. Warners Regiment came up which put a stop to their Career.

We soon rallied and in a few minutes the Action began very warm and desperate, which lasted 'till night; we used their own Cannon against them, which proved of great Service to us. At Sunset we obliged them to retreat a second time, we then pursued 'till dark, when I was obliged to halt for fear of killing my own Men; we took two Pieces more of their Cannon, together with all their Baggage, a number of Horses, Carriages, &c, killed upwards of 200 of the Enemy on the Field of Battle; the number of the wounded is not yet known, as they are scatter'd about in many places.
Actual Brass Cannon captured from the British at the Battle of Bennington

I have 1 Lieut. Col'l since dead, 1 Major, 7 Captains, 14 Lieut's, 4 Ensigns or Cornets, 1 Judge Advocate, 1 Baron, 2 Canadian Officers 6 Sergeants 1 Aid de Camp, 1 Hessian Chaplain 3 Hessian Surgeons and 700 Prisoners. I enclose you a copy of Gen'l Burgoyne's instructions to Col. Baume, who commanded the detachment that engaged us; our wounded are 42, 10 Privates and four Officers belonging to my Brigade are dead; The dead and wounded of the other Corps I do not know, as they have not brought in their return as yet, I am Gentlemen with the greatest regard and respect,

 Your most obedient humble Serv't
 

JOHN STARK
      Brigadier Gen'l.

P.S. I think we have returned the Enemy a proper compliment in the above action for the Hubbartown engagement.

Lieut. Hadden was not impressed with Stark's letter, in his Journal he continues:

Extract from a Rebel paper- the above being with Baume's instructions published by order. The following Resolve may serve to show the situation of the Gen'ls wardrobe and what the General Assembly thought a proper reward for Victory. Extracted as above.

"The following Letter to the Honorable Brigadier Gen'l Starks, and Resolve passed the General Assembly of this State (New Hampshire) on Friday last.
 
                 Sir,

     The General Assembly of this State, take the earliest opportunity to acknowledge the receipt of your acceptable present-- The tokens of victory gained at the Memorable Battle of Bennington.  The events of that day strongly mark the bravery of the Men, who, unskilled in War, forced from their intrenchments, a chosen number of Veteran Troops, of boasted Britons; as well as the address & valour of the General, who directed their movements and led them on to conquest. This signal exploit open'd the way to a rapid succession of advantages most important to America.

These trophies shall be safely deposited in the archives of the State, and therefore remind posterity, of the irresistable power of the God of Armies, and the honors due to the memory of the Brave. Still attended with like successes may you long enjoy the just reward of your grateful Country.

Resolved unanimously, that the Board of War of this State, be, and hereby are directed in the name of this Court, to present to the Honorable Brigadier General Starks, a compleat suit of Clothes becoming his Rank, together with a piece of Linnen; as a Testimony of the high sense this Court have of the great and important Services render'd by that brave Officer, to save the United States of America.

                                                                                           Finis

 
Note Hadden's sardonic remarks about the General Assembly's gift to Gen. Stark:
 
It was remarked upon the above reward That either the General was Stark naked or Congress stark mad.

                                                                                                 J.H.

Sources/notes:

1 James Hadden. Hadden's Journal and Orderly Books: A Journal Kept in Canada and Upon Burgoyne's Campaign in 1776 and 1777, by Lieut. James M. Hadden, Roy. Art. Edited by Horatio Rogers. (Albany: Joel Munsell's Sons, 1884) 121-131

 

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