A roadside marker is all that remains of this colonial-era fort that played a role in an obscure New England war.
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The Battle of Fort Dummer was fought on October 11, 1724 between Abenaki Indians and Massachusetts colonial militia and their Mohawk allies during Dummer’s War. Both the fort and the war were named after Lieutenant Governor William Dummer, acting governor of Massachusetts at that time. Though the attackers managed to kill a few of the fort’s defenders, the fort held and remained a local stronghold.
The Abenaki were members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, an alliance of Algonquin-speaking Indians including the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Abenaki, and Penobscot. After war broke out in 1722, Lieutenant Governor William Dummer ordered the creation of several forts on the frontier along the Connecticut River. Fort Dummer, a 180-foot wooden stockade, was built in 1724. It was the first permanent English Settlement in what would become Vermont.
Lieutenant Timothy Dwight took command of 12 cannon, 43 English soldiers, and 12 Mohawk warriors at the outpost. Shortly after completion, a group of approximately 70 Abenaki warriors attacked. The band was affiliated with Chief Grey Lock, who was waging his own fight against the British sometimes called “Grey Lock’s War”. They killed or wounded five of the defenders, but could not penetrate the thick wooden walls.
Fought between Great Britain’s New England colonies and the Wabanaki Confederacy allied with New France from 1722 to 1725, Dummer’s War arose from a border dispute between Maine and the French colony of Acadia. The war ended in Dummer’s Treaty, which helped solidify the colonial border between French and English colonies in the region.
A small monument erected in 1901 marked the site of Fort Dummer, but it was moved seven years later when the Vernon Dam was built on the Connecticut River, which flooded the area. It is now located near a dirt pull off at the intersection of Vernon Street and Cotton Mill Hill. A granite headstone for Susanna Willard, wife of Lt. Wilder Willard, who died in 1763 at the age of 28, is also there.
Fort Dummer State Park, at 517 Old Guilford Road outside Brattleboro, Vermont, is a 217-acre forest named after the first permanent white settlement in Vermont. It is open Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, 10:00 am to sunset. Call (802) 254-2610 for more information. The Fort Dummer monument is not within the park’s boundaries.