The Bennington Raid: August 1777
On July 30, 1777, New Hampshire militia Brig. General John Stark reached Manchester to find Colonel Seth Warner and Continental Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln already there. General George Washington had sent Lincoln to help Northern Department commander Maj. General 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, 1777, Lt. Colonel 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 13th. Along the way, the Indians engaged in destruction of the neighboring countryside. Learning of the Indians, General 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 Colonel 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 rebels were at Bennington.
On August 14 at about 9:00 A.M., the two forces made contact at Sancoick's Mill. General Stark's advance forces fired one volley and then retreated. After advancing another two 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, 1777, Maj. General John Burgoyne received Lt. Colonel Baum's request for reinforcements. Lt. Colonel Heinrich Breymann was dispatched at 9:00 A.M. with approximately 640 men. Colonel Warner had received General Stark's order on the 14th, but many of his men were out on patrol, so he did not leave until the morning of August 15th with his 350 men. Slowed by rain, he reached Stark's camp that evening, while his men made camp six miles from Bennington.
General Stark had been unable to attack on August 15, because of rain, but he had scouted out Lt. Colonel Baum's disposition. At about noon on August 16th, 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 two 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, Lt. Colonel Breymann's men and Colonel 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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