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Bennington Raid

  • Time Period: August 1777
  • Area: ??
  • Explanation: ??

On July 30, 1777, New Hampshire militia Brig. Gen. John Stark reached Manchester to find Col. Seth Warner and Continental Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln already there. Gen. George Washington had sent Lincoln to help Northern Department commander Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler, because of his being from New England. Schuyler had then ordered Lincoln to take command of Stark's New Hampshire regiment and lead it to the main army. Stark refused to hand over command and Lincoln tactfully did not press.

Bennington was a last minute objective after intelligence was received that only 300 to 400 militia guarded a supply depot there. On August 9, Lt. Col. Friedrich Baum set out east. On August 11, Baum moved from Fort Miller to Batten Kill. After waiting a day, Baum moved another fifteen miles southeast to Cambridge on August 13. Along the way, the Indians engaged in destruction of the neighboring countryside. Learning of the Indians, Stark ordered 400 men to advance to Cambridge from Bennington. On that evening, Stark learned of Baum's man force and began to move his own force toward Bennington. He also ordered Col. Seth Warner to bring his militia from Manchester to Bennington. Baum also learned of Stark's movements and sent word to Burgoyne that 1,800 rather than 400 Americans were at Bennington.

On August 14 at about 9:00 A.M., the two forces made contact at Sancoick's Mill. Stark's advance forces fired one volley and then retreated. After advancing another 2 miles, Baum was slowed at Little White Creek due to a burned bridge. Baum then advanced another mile to a ford on the Walloomsac River, which was about four miles from Bennington. Meanwhile, Stark withdrew further toward Bennington and made camp. Later in the day, Baum finally formally requested reinforcements. Baum secured the ford by placing forces on both sides of the river to make the enemy could not easily approach the ford.

Before dawn on August 15, Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne received Baum's request for reinforcements. Lt. Col. Heinrich Breymann was dispatched at 9:00 A.M. with approximately 640 men. Warner had received Stark's order on August 14, but many of his men were out on patrol, so he did not leave until the morning of August 15 with his 350 men. Slowed by rain, he reached Stark's camp that evening, while his men made camp 6 miles from Bennington.

Stark had been unable to attack on August 15, because of rain, but he had scouted out Baum's disposition. At about noon on August 16, Stark's troops began moving out from camp. Baum saw the movements, but assumed that they were retreating. Stark had actually decided to attack using a double envelopment and his troops disappeared into the woods. When Baum saw the groups of men moving toward his camp, he assumed that they were Tories seeking shelter in his camp. Once his men were in position at about 3:00 P.M., Stark began attacking.

With the sounds of battle on both sides of them, the Tories, Canadians and Indians retreated, while Baum managed to hold the main position for 2 hours. The Germans were actually cutting their way out using their swords until Lt. Colonel Baum fell from a wound and they surrendered at about 5:00 P.M. At about that same time, Breymann's men and Warner's men joined the fight. Breymann ran out of ammunition and personally commanded the rear guard that allowed his men to retreat. The enemy had lost nearly 900 men, most of them becoming prisoners.

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