John Stark on the Battle of Bennington

John Stark

John Stark

To the Council of New Hampshire.

Bennington, August 18, 1777.

Gentlemen — 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, Vt., on the 8th instant, and arrived here on 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 thither. I detached Col. Gregg, with two hundred 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 field pieces, in order to march through the country, commanded by Governor Skene. The 14th I marched with my brigade, and a portion of the State militia, to oppose them, and cover Gregg’s retreat, who found himself unable to withstand their superior numbers. About four miles from this town I accordingly met him on his return, and the enemy in close pursuit of him, within a half mile of his rear ; but when they discovered me, they presently halted on a very advantageous piece of ground.

I drew up my little army on an eminence in view of their encampment, — but could not bring them to an engagement. I marched back about a mile, and there encamped. I sent a few men to skirmish with them, who killed thirty of them, with two Indian chiefs. The 15th it rained all day ; I sent out parties to harass them.

The 16th I was joined by this State’s (Vt.) militia, and those of Berkshire county. I divided my army into three divisions, and sent Lieut. Col. Nichols with two hundred and fifty men on the rear of their left wing, Colonel Herrick on the rear of their right, ordered, when joined, to attack the same. In the meantime I sent three hundred men to oppose the enemy’s front, to draw their attention that way. Soon after I detached Colonels Hubbard and Stickney on their right wing, with two hundred men, to attack that part ; all which plans had their desired effect. Colonel Nichols sent me word that he stood in need of a reinforcement, which I readily granted, consisting of one hundred men ; at which time he commenced the attack precisely at three 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 and bravery imaginable. Had they been Alexanders, or Charleses of Sweden, they could not have behaved better.

The action lasted two hours; at the expiration of which time we forced their breastworks, at the muzzle of their guns; took two pieces of brass cannon, with a number of prisoners; but before I could get them into proper form again, 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, Colonel Warner’s 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 until night. We used their cannon against them, which proved of great service to us.

At sunset we obliged them to retreat a second time; we pursued them till dark, when I was obliged to halt for fear of killing our men.

We recovered two pieces more of their cannon, together with all their baggage, a number of horses, carriages, &c.; killed upward of two hundred of the enemy in the field of battle.

The number of wounded is not yet known, as they are scattered about in many places. I have one lieutenant colonel, since dead (Colonel Baum), one major, seven captains, fourteen lieutenants, four ensigns, two cornets, one judge advocate, one baron, two Canadian officers, six sergeants, one aide-de-camp, one Hessian chaplain, three Hessian surgeons, and seven hundred prisoners.

I inclose you a copy of General Burgoyne’s instructions to Colonel Baum, who commanded the detachment that engaged us. Our wounded are forty-two — ten privates and four officers, belonging to my brigade; one dead. The dead and wounded in the other corps I do not know, as they have not brought in their returns yet.

I am, Gentlemen, with the greatest regard, your most obedient and humble servant,


Brigadier General Commanding. P. S.

I think in this action we have returned the enemy a proper compliment for their Hubbardston engagement.

Learn More

Memoir and Official Correspondence of Gen. John Stark


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