On this day, 246 years ago, our town made history.
August 16, 1777, the day began hot and humid... following a day of rain that had prevented an all out battle the day before. At hand was a detachment of British General Burgoyne's army led by Lt. Col. Baum that had set out to capture Bennington, steal its supplies, and in so doing, effectively extinguish the fledgling republic of Vermont that had been created only a few short weeks before.
Opposing them was a militia army led by the hero of Bunker Hill, General John Stark of New Hampshire. Leading a force made up of men from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, Stark was ably assisted by Seth Warner and Samuel Herrick of Bennington.
While initially outnumbering the British forces at the start of the first battle, the odds became much more desperate as a British reinforcement under Lt. Col. Breymann arrived and the second battle commenced. This second action was extremely hard fought, described by Stark as “one continuous clap of thunder.”
The timely arrival of the Green Mountain Boys late in the afternoon finally turned the tide back in favor of the patriots. By nightfall... the British forces had been decisively defeated and the first step in Burgoyne's eventual defeat at Saratoga was set in place.
The victory at the Battle of Bennington was a decisive moment in the American Revolution. More men were killed and captured at the Battle of Bennington that at both battles of Saratoga combined. The British belief that a militia force could not stand in the face of the mighty British Army was finally and conclusively disproven.
The town of Bennington has been continuously celebrating the Battle of Bennington every year since its first anniversary in 1778... a tradition we proudly continue to this day.
The Bennington Battle Monument was dedicated at the 1891 celebration. The Monument (and all VT historic sites) is open for FREE ADMISSION today in honor of the anniversary.