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Battle of Bennington

August 17. –Yesterday is to be remembered on account of a signal victory the militia, under the command of General Stark, obtained over a body of the King’s troops, commanded by Colonel Baum, some account of which is here given by one who was himself in the action. It seems that General Burgoyne had detached this corps, consisting of about fifteen hundred men, chiefly Waldeckers and Brunswickers intermixed with some British troops and Tories, a motley compound, to penetrate as far as Bennington, and further if it should be found practicable, with a view to increase the number of his friends, to disperse his protections in the country, to procure for his army provisions, and to wreak his wrath and vengeance on those who had disregarded his calls of mercy, and slighted with indignity his proffered protection. Colonel Baum had advantageously posted his corps within about five miles of Bennington meeting-house, where in different places they made breastworks for their own security. This digression was of such ill tendency, and savored so much of presumption, that General Stark, who was at that time providentially at Bennington, with his brigade of militia from New Hampshire State, determined to give him battle. Colonel Simond’s regiment of militia in Berks county was invited to his assistance; and a part of Colonel Brown’s arrived seasonably to attend on the action, and some volunteers from different towns, and Colonel Warner, with a part of his own regiment, joined him the same day. The general, it seems, wisely laid his plan of operation, and Divine Providence blessing us with good weather, between three and four o’clock P. M. he attacked them in front and flank in three or four different places, at the same instant, with irresistible impetuosity. The action was extremely hot for between one and two hours; the flanking parties had carried their points with great ease, when the front pressed on to their breastwork with an ardor and patience beyond expectation. The blaze of the guns of the contending parties reached each other, the fire was so extremely hot, and our men easily surmounting their breastworks, amidst peals of thunder and flashes of lightning from their guns, without regarding the roar of their field-pieces, that the enemy at once deserted their covers and ran; and in about five minutes their whole camp was in the utmost confusion and disorder, all their battalions were broken in pieces, and fled most precipitately; at which instant our whole army pressed after with redoubled ardor, pursued them for a mile, made considerable slaughter amongst them, and took many prisoners. One field-piece had already fallen in our hands. At this time our men stopped the pursuit, to gain breath, when the enemy being reinforced, our front fell back for a few rods for conveniency of ground, and being directed and collected by Colonel Rensselaer, and reinforced by Major Stanton, renewed the fight with redoubled ardor. They fell in upon the enemy with great impetuosity, put them to confusion and flight, and pursued them about a mile, making many prisoners. Two or three more brass field-pieces fell into our hands, which are supposed to be the whole of what they brought out with them. At this time darkness came upon us, and prevented our swallowing up the whole of this body. The enemy fled precipitately the succeeding night towards the North River, and, unless they should be met with by a party of our army there, may have reached there without any further molestation. Governor Skeene, in surprise and consternation, took horse and fled.

This action, which redounds so much to the glory of the Great Lord of the heavens, and God of armies, affords the Americans a lasting monument of the Divine power and goodness, and a most powerful argument of love to and trust in God. Our loss is about forty or fifty killed, and more wounded. The enemy’s loss is greater, and many more wounded. Their baggage fell into our hands. The number of prisoners taken is said to be about six hundred. Two of their colonels were amongst the prisoners and mortally wounded. A number of inferior officers have also fallen into our hands, and in particular the general’s aide-de-camp. A good number deserted and joined us. This victory is thought by some to equal any that has happened during the present controversy; and, as long as prudence, moderation, sobriety and valor, are of any estimation amongst the United States, will not fail to endear General Stark to them. It is the opinion of some, if a large body of militia was now called to act in conjunction with the northern army, the enemy might be entirely overthrown. May all be concerned to give God the glory, whilst we commend the good conduct of the officers and soldiers in general on so important an occasion.

There is adjoining Pittsfield, in Massachusetts, a place called Jericho. From this place forty men marched, under Colonel Brown, for Bennington; on their way eighteen of them deserted and went over to the enemy. After the battle, fifteen of the eighteen were found dead upon the field. The remaining twenty-two were in the action, signalized themselves by their bravery, and came off unhurt. May all villains and traitors meet a similar fate to that of the fifteen.1

 

1 Account by “a gentleman who was present in the action.”–Pennsylvania Evening Post, September 4.

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