Bennington Battle Day is a holiday in Vermont every 16 August to honor an American victory during the Revolutionary War. In 2018, the holiday falls on a Thursday.
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The Battle of Bennington was critical in the American Revolutionary War. It had massive effects on both the American colonists and British forces. The battle was part of the Saratoga campaign, a large-scale American effort to force the British forces out of the city of Saratoga in New York.
This was the first step of a larger plan that would eliminate British influence in New England. The Battle of Bennington was a defensive operation that involved the American forces repelling various waves of British and Hessian attackers.
The battle was not nearly as large as others such as Bunker Hill or Yorktown, but it did pit fairly skilled fighters against each other. The American side was led by General John Stark. Stark controlled about 1,500 militiamen from New Hampshire and Massachusetts. He was also aided by the famous Green Mountain Boys, the famous militia of Vermont.
The British and Hessian forces were led by Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum and Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich von Breymann. These two Hessian leaders commanded a large detachment of General John Burgoyne’s army. This detachment consisted of Hessians, dragoons, native Americans, and loyalists.
After receiving intelligence reports that a large American munitions store was located in Bennington, Vermont, the British General Burgoyne sent a detachment of about 1,000 men to the town. He gave his subordinate officers orders to destroy the storehouse and capture or kill any enemy forces. Burgoyne believed that his forces could reach Bennington unnoticed and destroy the storehouse while it was still lightly defended. This would have been the case if American intelligence did not warn General John Stark of the advancing British forces.
General John Stark took the intelligence report stating that the British were advancing very seriously; he quickly sent out several dispatches to nearby militia forces. This caused a sizable force of about 1,500 men to rally near Bennington. On Stark’s command, the large force went to New York and ambushed the approaching British and Hessian forces. This pre-emptive strike was very successful; Lieutenant Colonel Baum was killed and many enemy soldiers were taken captive.
Soon after their initial victory, the American forces were attacked by Heinrich von Breymann. After several hours of fighting, the Americans repelled the attack and ensured the safety of the munition stores in Bennington. Over 1,000 British soldiers were killed, captured, or wounded as a result of the Battle of Bennington. The American forces suffered 70 casualties.
The Vermont government and various organizations host a range of events that people can participate in to observe Bennington Battle Day. Most of these events are oriented around historical education and entertainment. This day is a historical holiday in Vermont that allows people to celebrate the military accomplishments of the New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont militias during the Revolutionary War.
- The Bennington Battle Monument is a stone obelisk located on park property in Bennington, Vermont. The obelisk is made of magnesium limestone that was imported to Vermont from Hudson Falls, New York. There is also an observation area that allows visitors to view the surrounding areas of rural Vermont.
- The park service in Vermont offers tours for visitors who are interested in learning about the Battle of Bennington and the American Revolutionary War. People who attend these tours can hear about various aspects of 18th century warfare, including strategy, tactics, leadership, and fortifications.
- People can also learn about the Battle of Bennington by watching a reenactment at the battlefield in New York. These reenactments allow people to see exactly how the events unfolded during the Battle of Bennington. Reenactments are also entertaining and highly exciting, so people from across New York and Vermont often travel to the battlefield on August 16 to enjoy some historical fun with their friends and family members.