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Battle Of Bennington

American Victory

British General surrendered on October 17, 1777

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When information arrived that General Arthur St. Clair had retreated and Ticonderoga had been taken, New Hampshire flew to arms, and called for Stark to command her troops. He consented on condition that he should not be subject to any orders but his own; and to this the council of state agreed, because the men would not march without him. Setting out with a small force for Bennington, he there learned that Burgoyne had dispatched Colonel Frederick Baum with 500 men to seize the stores collected at that place. Sending out expresses to call in the militia of the neighborhood, Stark marched out to meet him, hearing of which, Baum entrenched himself in a strong position about six miles from Bennington, and sent to Burgoyne for re-enforcements. Before they could arrive, Stark attacked him on 16 August, 1777. Tradition says that he called to his men as he led them to the assault: "There they are, boys. We beat them today, or Molly Stark's a widow !"--another of his sentences that has gone into history. Doubts have been cast on its authenticity, for Mrs. Stark's name was Elizabeth.

The second British force of 500 men, under Colonel Breymann, presently arriving on the scene, was likewise totally defeated. Of the 1,000 British, not more than a hundred escaped, all the rest being killed or captured, a result of great importance, as it led ultimately to the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga. Colonel Baum, who was mortally wounded, said of the provincials: "They fought more like hell-hounds than soldiers." The American loss was only about seventy. Washington spoke of it immediately as "the great stroke struck by General Stark near Bennington "; and Baroness Riedesel, then in the British camp, wrote: "This unfortunate event paralyzed our operations."

For this victory Stark was made a brigadier-general, 4 October, 1777, and given the thanks of congress.

The Pennsylvania Gazette
Text Courtesy of
Accessible Archives

Extract of a letter from General Schuyler to his Excellency General Washington, dated Forts, five miles below Stillwater, August 15, 1777.

"I am just informed that Lieut. Willet is arrived at Albany. He advises that after the engagement which Gen. Herkemer had with the enemy, Col. Gansewoort ordered a sortie with 206 men, commanded by Lieut. Col. Willet; that he made a successful attack on part of the enemyline, drove them across the river, and killed many. That Sir John Johnson, he is informed, was among the slain. That he took and brought off a considerable quantity of baggage. That on his return to the fort he was ambuscaded, and attacked by a body of regular troops, who, after a fire by which Willet did not lose one man, were charged with fixed bayonets, and drove. He farther informs that between 3 and 400 Indians were killed, wounded, and left the besiegers after the engagement. That the militia with Gen. Herkemer lost about 160 killed and wounded. That Gen. St. Ledyard, who commands the enemy force in that quarter, sent in a flag to demand the delivery of the fort, offering that garrison should march out with their baggage, and not be molested by the Savages. That if this was not complied with, he would not answer for the conduct of the Indians, if the garrison fell into their hands; and that they would certainly fall on the inhabitants. That Gen. Burgoyne was in possession of Albany." That Col. Gansewoort, after animadverting on the barbarity and disgraceful conduct of the British officers, in suffering women and children to be butchered as they had done, informed the flag that he was resolved to defend the fort to the last; that he would never give it up as long as there was a man left alive to defend it. That he was well supplied with provisions and ammunition.

Col. Gansewoort being informed that the militia were dispirited, expecting that the fort would soon fall, sent Lieut. Col. Willet out to chear up their spirits. That he found the militia of Tryon county collecting with great alacrity, and as Gen. Arnold, with the troops marched under his command, will probably reach the German flats on the 16th or 17th, I have the great hopes that the siege will soon be raised."

By an Express arrived last Thursday evening from General Schuyler to Congress, we have the following important Intelligence.

Van SchaickIsland, mouth of Mohawk river Aug. 18.

SIR, I HAVE the honor to congratulate Congress on a signal victory obtained by General STARK; an account whereof is contained in the following letter from Gen. LINCOLN, which I have this moment had the happiness to receive, together with General BURGOYNE'S instructions to Lieutenant Colonel BERN, a copy whereof is enclosed.

Bennington, August 18, 1777.


"THE late signal success of a body of about 2000 troops, mostly militia, under the command of Brigadier General Stark, in this part of the country, on the 16th instant, over a party of about 1500 of the enemy, who came out with a manifest design to possess themselves of this town, as will appear by the enclosed, is an event happy and important. - Our troops behaved in a very brave and heroic manner; they pushed the enemy from one work to another thrown up on advantageous ground, and from different posts, with spirit and fortitude, until they gained a complete victory over them.

"The following is the best list I have been able to obtain of the prisoners, their killed and wounded, viz. one Lieut. Colonel, 1 Major, 5 Captains, 12 Lieutenants, 4 Ensigns, 2 Cornets, 1 Judge Advocate, 1 Baron, 2 Canadian Officers, and 3 Surgeons, 37 British Soldiers, 308 Hessians, 38 Canadians, and 151 Tories taken. - The number of wounded fallen into our hands, exclusive of the above, are about 80. - The number of their slain has not yet been ascertained, as they fought on the retreat for several miles in a wood, but supposed to be about 200. Their artillery, which consisted of 4 brass field pieces, with a considerable quantity of baggage, likewise fell into our hands. We have heard nothing of Burgoyne or his army for these two days past. The prisoners are sent into the State of Massachusetts Bay except the Tories; shall wait your directions respecting them, as most of them belong to the State of New York. I am, dear General, with regard and esteem, your very humble servant,


PS: We had about 20 or 30 killed in the action, and perhaps 50 wounded."

Copy of orders from Lieut. General BURGOYNE, to Lieut. Colonel BERN, dated near Saratoga, August 14, 1777.


THE accounts you have given me are very satisfactory, and I doubt not every proceeding under your direction will be the same.

I beg the favor of you to report whether the route you have marched would be practicable for a large corps with cannon, without repair, or with what sort of repair.

The desirable circumstance at present for your corps to possess Bennington, Burlington should you find the enemy too strongly posted, and maintaining such a countenance as would make a coup de main too hazardous, I wish you to take a post as you can maintain till you hear further from me, and upon your report, and other circumstances, I will either support you in force, or withdraw you.

Will you please to send to my camp, as soon as you can, wagons and draft cattle, and likewise such other cattle as are not necessary for your subsistence; let the wagons and carts bring off what flour and wheat they can, that you do not retain for the same purpose. I will write to you in full tomorrow, in regard to purchasing horses out of the hands of the savages; in the mean time let them be assured that whatever you select from them fit to mount the dragoons, shall be paid for at a proper price. I have the honor to be, with great esteem, yours, &c.

J. BURGOYNE, Lieut. Gen.

Lieut. Col. Bern.

I AM in hopes that Congress will very soon have the satisfaction to learn that General Arnold has raised the siege of Fort
Schuyler : If that takes place, I believe it will be possible to engage two or three hundred Indians to join this army, and Congress may rest assured that my best endeavors shall not be wanting to accomplish it.

I am informed that General Gates arrived at Albany yesterday.

Major Livingston, one of my Aids, will have the honor to deliver you this dispatch. I am, Sir, with every sentiment of respect, your most obedient humble servant,


To Hon. John Hancock, Esq;

Published by order of Congress.

JOHN HANCOCK, President.

September 3, 1777
The Pennsylvania Gazette


An express came to town last night from our northern army, commanded by Gen. Gates, at Stillwater. From letters brought by the express we learn the following particulars, viz.

That the late Bennington battle began about seven miles west of the meeting house. That the number of the enemy at first was about thirteen hundred, who were soon after reinforced by fifteen hundred more, - that after the engagement had been continued warmly for some time, the enemy beat a parly, which not being understood by our people, they rushed forward on the enemy with fixed bayonets, took great part of them, and totally routed the rest, pursuing them for five or six miles. The number taken 669. Besides wounded (including 32 officers) 100. The number killed, besides many that it is supposed are not yet found.222 -- Total991

Col. Baum, who commanded the whole of the enemy forces, is among the slain. We have taken 900 swords of the dragoons, upwards of 1000 stands of arms, four brass field pieces, viz. one 12, two 9, and one 4 pounders. Our loss 20 or 30 killed, and not more than 30 wounded. A deserter from the enemy, lately examined, reports, that there were only 800 of them escaped from the battle of Bennington.

HARTFORD, Sept. 1.

A gentleman from Number Four informs, That two families (lately resident in the neighborhood of Bennington) arrived there and inform, that Governor Skeene died of a wound received in his thigh at the late battle with General STARK. His death is much lamented by all the real friends of America, as his advice might have been productive of another victory. --- BURGOYNE, how art thou fallen! to trust a fine body of troops ("Too valuable to let any considerable loss be hazarded,") to the advice of that infatuated poor old man, Skeene.

IN CONGRESS, November 4, 1777.

RESOLVED, That the thanks of Congress in their own names, and in behalf of the inhabitants of the Thirteen United States, be presented to Major General GATES, Commander in Chief in the Northern Department, and to Majors General LINCOLN and ARNOLD, and the rest of the officers and troops under his command, for their brave and successful efforts in support of the independence of their country, whereby an army of the enemy of ten thousand men has been totally defeated, one large detachment of it, strongly posted and entrenched, having been conquered at Bennington, another repulsed with loss and disgrace from Fort Schuyler , and the main army of six thousand men, under Lieut. General BURGOYNE, after being beaten in different actions, and driven from a formidable post and strong entrenchments, reduced to the necessity of surrendering themselves, upon terms honorable and advantageous to these States, on the 17th day of October last, to major General Gates, and that a Medal of Gold he struck, be struck, under the direction of the Board of War, in commemoration of this great event, and in the name of the United States presented by the President to Major General Gates.

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