This unassuming state park at the New York-Vermont border was the scene of an American military victory that contributed to the surrender of a British army and eventual American Independence.
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The Battle of Bennington was fought on August 16, 1777 between American forces commanded by Colonel John Stark and British and Hessian forces commanded by Lt. Col. Friedrich Baum west of Bennington, Vermont (in what would become New York State) during the American Revolutionary War. The battle ended in American victory when all British and Hessian forces fled the field.
In June 1777, British Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne desperately needed supplies to continue moving south in his bid to control the Hudson Valley and sever New England from the rest of the colonies. He sent Hessian Col. Friedrich Baum and 375 Hessian dragoons, 50 British infantry, and 375 Iroquois and Loyalist militia to gather supplies in nearby farming communities.
Baum learned there was a force of militiamen camped in nearby Bennington, Vermont and moved to investigate. After a brief skirmish around Sancoick Mill, Col. Baum sent for reinforcements and decided to fortify a hill and wait for their arrival.
Col. John Stark, commander of the local Patriot militia, wasted no time in preparing to attack. He divided his 1,100-man force into three columns and attempted a difficult maneuver designed to envelop both his opponent’s flanks. Stark’s plan admirably succeeded, with only the Hessian dragoons putting up a serious fight. They stood their ground until they ran out of ammunition, then fought hand-to-hand. Col. Baum was mortally wounded.
That afternoon, Lt. Col. Heinrich Breyman arrived with 600 men. They were too late to turn the tide, but they slugged it out with the Patriots until Breyman’s call for an orderly withdrawal turned into a route. Breyman was mortally wounded. In total, 207 British and Hessians were killed or wounded and 700 captured. 14 Americans were killed and 42 wounded.
Fought between Great Britain and her Thirteen American Colonies from 1775 to 1883, the Revolutionary War led to a Declaration of Independence and the formation of the United States of America in 1776. The Thirteen Colonies won their independence, at the cost of an estimated 158,000 British, American, French, German, Spanish, and American Indian lives. It was a dynamic and surprisingly international conflict.
Today, the battle is commemorated as Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site, and August 16 is a state holiday in Vermont. The battlefield was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The hilltop forming the main portion of the battlefield was where Baum’s Hessians made their stand, and several monuments to the American militia units who participated in the battle were erected around it.
Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site is located on Route 67 near Walloomsac in Rensselaer County, New York. It is open daily from May 1st to Veterans Day, 8am to sunset. There is no admission fee. Call (518) 860-9094 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. A monument to the late afternoon fighting is located at 42°55’28.3″N 73°19’23.4″W, or the corner of NY-67 and Cottrell Road, north of the railroad tracks.