Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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Dragoons, General Eraser's brigadeof marksmen, and Peters's
regiment of Loyalists, led under the Tory, Col. Francis J. Van
Pfister of White House Manor of Dutch Hoosac. With
these were also allied a regiment of Canadian Rangers,
headed by one hundred and fifty Indians and two cannon
and artillerists. Lieut. -Colonel Breyman and a strong body
of German regulars, together with two large calibre cannon,
were posted at the junction of the Batten Kill in Old Sara-
toga, twenty-two miles northwest of St. Croix Mills, as
Baum's reinforcements.

Fifty Chasseurs joined Baum's army at eleven o'clock
on the evening of the i ith of August, and at five o'clock the
following morning Baum began his march to Fort Benning-
ton up the Old Cambridge Road. He had not advanced
a mile, however, when a message from Burgoyne ordered
him to post his troops and await further orders. Burgoyne
called a council of war and early on the morning of August
1 2th, gave Colonel Baum the following verbal orders:

"Mount your Dragoons, send me thirteen hundred horses;
seize Bennington, cross the mountains to Rockingham and
Brattleboro; try the affections of the country; meet me, a
fortnight hence, in Albany."



CHAPTER XVII

the victory of bennington
August i6, 1777

Had each man been an Alexander or Charles of Sweden, he could not have
behaved more gallantly. . . . The storming of the redoubts was the hottest I ever
saiD in my life: It represented one continued clap of thunder. — General Stark's
Despatch to General Gates.

Stark's Council of War — Colonel Greggs's Opening Skirmish — American and
British Encampments — Baums's and Van Pfister's Redoubts — Eve before
the Battle of Bennington — Patriots' Plan of Attack — Stark's Address
to his Army — Storming of the British Redoubts — Surrender of Baum
and Van Pfister — Colonel Breyman's Reinforcements — Colonel Warner's
Continental Reinforcements — Hessian and Tory Prisoners — Patriots'
Trophies of War — ^Centennial of the Victory of Bennington and Battle
Monument, 1877.

THE early dawn of Wednesday, August 13, 1777, revealed
a threatening storm cloud lowering over the brow of
Mount St. Anthony, south of General Stark's Bennington
Centre encampment. The scouts, Isaac Clark and Eleazar
Eggerton, upon that eventful morning reported a party of
Burgoyne's Tories and Indians to be marching up the Old
Cambridge Road, toward St. Croix Mills, on the lower
Walloomsac.

General Stark called a council of war with Warner, Herrick,
:Simonds, ' Hobart,^ Stickney, and Nichols at the "Cata-
mount Tavern." Lieut. -Colonel Greggs with two hundred
sharpshooters later marched down the Walloomsac to head
off the enemy at St. Croix, ten miles below Fort Bennington

• See illustration, Chapter VIII. ^ Incorrectly reported Hubbard.

331



332 The Hoosac Valley

i
storehouse. Express messengers were sent north and south!

on their swiftest steeds with marching orders for Warner's

Continental Regiment at Manchester and for Simonds's and

Patterson's Berkshire Regiments at WilHamstown and

Pittsfield.

Stark broke up his Bennington Centre encampment, east
of Herrick Tavern, before sunrise and marched four miles
down the Walloomsac to the North Farm, two miles south
of the present State Line Tavern. On the march he is said
to have breakfasted at Sergt. Daniel Harmon's Inn, still
standing, two miles west of the Battle Monument, and
known as the "Old Yellow House."

Meanwhile, about four o'clock, Colonel Baum arrived at
Lick's Tavern, near the junction of the Owl Kill with the
Hoosac, now the site of Johnson ville, N. Y., and his army
encamped for the night near Daniel Van Rensselaer's millsj
A scouting party of thirty Tories and fifty Indians were sent
in advance, however, to take possession of Van Schaick's mills
at St. Croix. Isaac Bull, the miller at Van Rensselaer's mills,
was commanded to grind wheat all night for Baum's army.
In Old Cambridge, Robert Lake with a team and herd of cat-
tle was captured by Baum, while James Rogers, from the
junction of the Batten Kill, and Col. John Williams's family
from White Creek made their escape ahead of his army.
Rogers arrived at Sodom hamlet, near Stark's encampment, j
with his ox-team, the rainy night before the Battle of Ben-
nington, and Mrs. Williams journeyed on to WilHamstown,
where she sold Dr. William Porter her husband's case of
amputating instruments.

Baum's scouting party arrived at Van Schaick's mill^
and forced the enemies' guard to abandon the place. At
eight o'clock the following morning, August 14th, Baum's
main army arrived and found several Falls Quequick skir-
mishers, headed by Joel Abbott and his father, in the act of




Major-General John Stark, the Hero of Bennington, August
i6, 1777. General Stark died in 1822 at the age of 94 years.

{A copy of the Original Painting by Tenney, owned by the City of Manchester,
New Hampshire.)



333



334



The Hoosac Valley



breaking down the St, Croix Bridge over Little White Creek.
In a letter addressed to General Burgoyne, Colonel Baum




Van Schaick's Mill at St. Croix near the junction of the Little White with
the WaUoomsac River, Hoosac, New York. The Battle of Bennington began and
ended about the St. Croix Bridge, although the British and Tory Redoubts oc< u-
pied summits near the Vermont State Line. Colonels Baum and Van Pfister
both expired and were buried on the bank of the WaUoomsac in Shaftsbury,
Vermont.

states that he was delayed at St. Croix over an hour. He

says:

Sancroick, 14 Aug., 1777, 9 o'clock.
Sir:

I have the honor to inform your Excellency that I arri\'cd
here at eight in the morning. Having had intelligence ofi
a party of the enemy being in possession of a mill which
they abandoned, but in their usual way fired from the bushes,
and took their road to Bennington, a savage was slightly
wounded; they broke down the bridge, which retarded our
march above an hour. '

They left in the mill 1000 bushels of wheat 20 bbls. of salt



The Victory of Bennington



335



and about 78 bbls. of
very fine flour, and £1000
worth of pearl of potash.
I have ordered 30 pro-
vincials and an officer to
guard the provisions,
and the pass of the bridge.

By five prisoners taken
they agree that 1500 to
1800 men are in Benning-
ton, but are supposed to
leave it on our approach.

I will proceed as far
to-day as to fall on the
enemy to-morrow early,
and make such disposi-
tion as I think necessary
from the intelligence I
receive.

The people are flocking
in hourly, but want to
be armed. The savages
cannot be controlled —
they ruin and take every-
thing they please.

I am your Excellency's
most obedient and hum-
ble servant.

F. Baum.

Beg your Excellency to
pardon the hurry of this
letter. It is wrote on the
head of a barrel.

To General Burgoyne.

Colonel Greggs's sharp-
shooters killed several of




Slab marking site oj tJu: J->rilisIi Breast-
Works on each side of the Old Cambridge
Road, near western portal of Mellen's
Bridge noiu known as Barnet Bridge over
the Walloomsac, Hoosac, New York.



336 The Hoosac Valley

Baum's Indians and retreated about two miles in an orderly,
confident manner until they arrived at William Mellen's
log-house. Here Baum's army beheld General Stark's main
army, drawn up in line of battle. The ground did not appear
to be adapted for an attack and Baum posted his troops
for the night. Stark marched his army two miles east and
encamped for the night on the North Farm in Bennington.
The meadow is marked now by a granite monument. Stark
called a council of war, after which it was decided to attack
the British the following day, Friday, August 15th. Upon
the morrow, however, rain fell in torrents and Stark sent
forth skirmishing parties with the object only to m.olest the
enemy.

According to Glick, a German officer, "Baum bivouacked
at the farm of Walmscott (William Mellen or Mullen) by
the Walloonschoik " (Walloon's Creek), known to-day as
Walloomsac River, now the site of Elmer Gooding's brick
mansion. He sent a message to General Burgoyne for
reinforcements and continued to build redoubts.

Baum's Height, known to-day as Jewett's Cobble, north
of Baum's encampment, was chosen for his main redoubts.
The summit rises over four hundred feet above the bed of
the Walloomsac and is now marked by a flagstaff. Here
Baum posted Riedesel's Dragoons and a brigade of Canadian
Rangers. Ten rods north of Mellen's Bridge over the Wal-
loomsac, he stationed another party of Riedesel's Dragoons
with one cannon ; and on the brow of the steep embankment
above the river, overlooking Battlefield Park of to-day, he
posted fifty Chasseurs. On both sides of the Old Cam-
bridge Road, east of Mellen's Bridge, behind light earth-
works, were stationed Canadian Rangers and German
Grenadiers.

The Tory redoubt stood on Van Pfister's Hill, seventy rods
south of Mellen's Bridge, directly south of Baum's redoubts



The Victory of Bennington 337

,on Baum's Height. According to Esquire Nathaniel

Wallace of Pownal, the Tory earthworks consisted of en-

Itrenchments with forest staddles set closely together at

their base, slightly diverging at their top for the discharge

of arms. A platform of logs and earth was built high

! enough within to enable the gunners to bring their faces

up to the apertures of the stockade to take aim, after which

ieach man stepped down and reloaded his rifle. Col. Francis

J. Van Pfister of White House Manor of Nepimore, in

Hoosac, commanded Peter's regiment of Loyalists at the

Tory works. Here assembled many neighboring Tories

jfrom Lanesboro and Hancock, Massachusetts. Capt.

: Samuel Anderson led a Pownal company of Tories, while

.Colonel Van Pfister rallied a large volunteer company in

! Dutch Hoosac.

j Stark's army was eighteen hundred strong, including three

iNew Hampshire regiments under command of Colonels

iHobart, Stickney, and Nichols; Col. William Williams's

I Wilmington company; Col. Samuel Herrick's regiment of

! Vermont Rangers, composed of Capt. Samuel Robinson's

jEast Bennington company,^ Capt. Elijah Dewey s West

I Bennington company,^ with an enrolment of one Aundred

and fifty men, besides a portion of Col, Nathaniel Brush's

regiment of Vermont Volunteers, and Colonel Slmonds's

i Berkshire Regiment, and volunteer companies with an

enrolment of over five hundred men.

The "Fighting Parson," Thomas Allen of Pittsfield,
I arrived at Stark's North Farm encampment about two
'o'clock on the morning of August i6th. He greeted the
! General by saying: "We, the people of Berkshire, have fre-
quently been called upon to fight, but have never been led
against the enemy. We have now resolved, if you will not
let us fight, never to turn out again." General Stark

' See Note 20 at end of volume. ' See Note 21 at end of volume.



338 The Hoosac Valley

replied : " If the Lord shall once more give us sunshine, and
I do not give you fighting enough, I will never ask you to
come out again." The patriotic parson with his dishevelled
hair was later considered the most picturesque figure in
either the American or British encampments.

The Bennington Council of Safety sat in constant session,
and early Saturday morning, Sergt. Josiah Dunning of
Captain Noble's PowTial company, guarding the Provincial
storehouse at Bennington Centre, was despatched down the
Walloomsac to locate Colonel Breyman's reinforcements.
Saturday, August i6, 1777, dawTied very warm, although
Click, the German officer, recorded that:

The storm of the preceding day having expended itself,
not a cloud was left to darken the heavens, while the
very leaves hung motionless, and the long grass waved not,
under the influence of perfect calm. Every object around
appeared, too, to peculiar advantage; for the fields looked
green and refreshed, the river was swollen and tumultuous,
and the branches of the forest trees were all loaded with
dewdrops, which glistened in the sun's early rays like so
many diamonds. Nor would it be possible to imagine
any scene more rife with peaceful and even pastoral
beauty.

General Stark's plan of surrounding Baum's and \"an
Pfister's redoubts began long before sunrise, although little
firing took place until three o'clock in the afternoon, Thej
British, however, kept up a constant bombardment, wasting
much ammunition. Warner and Herrick were familiar with
every hill and ravine of the Walloomsac, and the English his-
torian, Gordon, considered that their "superior militar>
skill" was of great service to General Stark.

The General, after his several regiments were in readiness'
to march to their assigned positions on the field, mountec.






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Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 23 of 41)