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upon Bennington"; but he was delayed "at the farm . . .
of Sankoik" on "the northern branch of the Hosac,"
where the retreating Americans had broken down the
bridge. He therefore "bivouacked at the farm of Walam-
scott, about four miles from Sankoick, and three from Ben-
nington." On the 15th, Baum finding his outposts again
attacked, sent back for reinforcemeuts, and fortified a posi-
tion on a height to the left of "the farm of Walamscott."
A few sentences from the stirring "Account of the Battle
of Bennington," by Glich, give a clear-cut picture of the
engagement as viewed by the Germans from their intrench-

"The morning of the sixteenth rose beautifully serene.
. . . Colonel Baume . . . some how or other persuaded to
believe, that the armed bands, of whose approach he was
warned, were loyalists . . . found himself attacked in front
and flanked by thrice his number . . . whilst the very
persons in whom he had trusted, and to whom he had given
arms, lost no time in turuing them against him. . . . When
the heads of the columns began to show themselves in rear
of our right and left . . . the Indians . . . lost all confi-
dence and fled . . . leaving us more than ever exposed.
. . . An accident . . . exposed us, almost defenceless, to
our fate. The solitary tumbril, which contained the whole
of our spare ammunition, became ignited, and blew up.
For a few seconds the scene which ensued defies all power
of language to describe. The bayonet, the butt of the
rifle, the sabre, the pike, were in full play, and men fell as
they rarely fall in modern warfare, under the direct blows
of their enemies. . . . Col. Baume, shot through the body
by a rifle ball, fell mortally wounded, and all order and

STARK's command at BENNINGTON 199

discipline being lost, flight or submission was alone
thought of."

From the letters of Baum and the picturesque account
of Glich, we must turn, for the American story, to the
terse dispatch of Stark to the New Hampshire authorities,
written two days after the battle:

"The 13''' I was inform'd that a party of Indians were
at Cambridge ... I detached Col° Gregg with 200 men
under his command to stop their march. In the evening I
had information by express that there was a large body of
theenemy on their way with their field pieces. . . . The I4">
I marched with my Brigade & a few of this States' Militia,
to oppose them and to cover Gregg's retreat. . . . About
four miles from the Town [Bennington] I accordingly met
him on his return, and the Enemy in close pursuit of him,
within half a mile of his rear. ... I drew up my little
army on an eminence in open view of their encampments,
but could not bring them to an engagement. I marched
back about a mile, and there encamp'd. . . . The 15''' it
rain'd all day; I sent out parties to harrass them.

"The i6th I was join'd by this States' Militia and those
of Berkshire County; I divided my army into three Divis-
ions, and sent Col. Nichols with 250 men on their rear of
their left wing; Col°. Hendrick in the Rear of their right,
with 300 men, order'd when join'd to attack the same.

"In the mean time I sent 300 men to oppose the Enemy's
front, to draw their attention that way; Soon after I
detach'd the Colonels Hubbart & Stickney on their right.
wing with 200 men to attack that part, all which plans had
their desired effect. Col° Nichols sent me word that he
stood in need of a reinforcement, which I readily granted,
consisting of lOO men, at which time he commenced the
attack precisely at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, which was
followed by all the rest. I pushed forward the remainder
with all speed; our people behaved with the greatest spirit
& bravery imaginable: Had they been Alexanders or
Charleses of Sweden, they could not have behaved better.

200 stark's command at bennington

The action lasted two hours. ... I rec<^ intelligence that
there was a large reinforcement within two miles of us, on
their march, which occasion'd us to renew our attack. But
luckily for us Col" Warner's Regiment came up, which put
a stop to their career. . . . We used their own cannon
against them. ... At Sunset we obliged them to beat a
second retreat. . . .

"I have I Lieut. Col" since dead, i major, 7 Captains,
14 Lieut^ 4 Ensigns, 2 Cornets, i Judge advocate, i Bar-
ron, 2 Canadian ofificers, 6 sergeants, i Aid-de-camp &
seven hundred prisoners; — I almost forgot i Hessian

In his tactics on the battle field, Stark showed the
same qualities he had displayed in the general strategy of
the campaign — quick insight and decision, followed by
deliberate and stubborn action. At Bennington, just as at
Bunker Hill and Trenton, Stark was quick to see the
importance of flank movements, and cool in carrying them
out. He was "as active in attack as he had then been
obstinate in defense." Because he had insisted on the
plan of a flank movement in the campaign preceding the
battle, Stark had a force on the spot ready to oppose Baum
and "check Burgoyne."

The battle of Bennington was won by the militia of
New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, under the
command of Stark. As we have already seen, Lincoln
was at Half Moon on the Hudson the day of the battle,
and was not in time, therefore, to return and co-operate
with Stark and Warner. Stark and his troops would like-
wise have been unable to return to Bennington, had he
allowed them on the 7th of August to march to Stillwater
as they had been ordered to do before he arrived at Man-
chester and "chose to command himself." That there was
any respectable force at Bennington capable of offering
resistance to Baum is due to the resolute good sense of
Stark and of the Vermont Council of Safety, and to the
terms of the independent command given Stark by the State

STARK's command at BENNINGTON 201

of New Hampshire. Had Schuyler's orders of the 4th and
9th of August to Lincoln and the Vermont Council been
carried out, the militia would have been on the Hudson
more than twenty miles away, when Baum approached
Bennington. The facts, then, as told by the participants
fully substantiate the statement of Josiah Bartlett quoted
at the beginning of this paper:

"Had Gen' Starks gone to Stillwater agreable to
orders; there would have been none to oppose Col. Baum
in carrying Gen' Burgoyne's orders into Execution."

It is evident that Stark's fellow citizens and fellow
soldiers of New Hampshire and Vermont understood the
situation and had some substantial reasons for feeling that
the independent command was justified both by the con-
ditions which preceded it and by the results which followed.

The unfavorable judgment of General Lincoln and of
the Continental Congress remains to be discussed. The
usual statement is that Stark, on his arrival at Manchester,
was ordered by Schuyler to march to Stillwatet and refused
to do so. Two facts which seem to have escaped notice
show this statement to be a somewhat misleading half-
truth. In the first place, Schuyler's orders were not to
Stark; they were transmitted directly by Lincoln to Stark's
brigade of milita without Stark's knowledge. Second
Stark eventually acted in harmony with Schuyler; he
started to march to the appointed rendezvous at Cambridge
on the 13th when he received word that the enemy were
already there; and on the i6th of September he did march
to Stillwater, but he marched via Bennington, and after
carrying out the flank attack desired by both Schuyler and

Of the relations betweed Lincoln and Stark at Man-
chester, Vermont, on the 7th of August, we have three
accounts: one by Lincoln in a letter to Schuyler trans-
mitted by the latter to Congress; one in a letter by Captain
Peter Clark of Stark's brigade; and a newspaper account,
which appeared in Stark's lifetime, "collected from the

202 stark's command at bennington

papers and conversations of the General by his son-in-law,
B. F. Stickney, Esq." Stark's own account, contained in a
letter written the 7th of August and acknowledged on the
I2th by the New Hampshire Committee of Safety, cannot
now be found. The nearest approach to Stark's story
is therefore the version which appears to have been
given by Stark to his family and published by his son-in-
law in the Concord Patriot, May 15, 18 10, twelve years
before the general's death. This is also quoted verbatim in
the "Biographical Sketch" published in the year of Stark's
death in "Farmer and Moore's Collections," and stated by
them to be based on particulars given by Stark's oldest
son Caleb and his son-in-law, Stickney. This contem-
porary family account is as follows:

"He [Stark] found the advantage of his independent
command immediately upon his arrival at Manchester, for
the packs of his men were paraded as for a march. He
enquired for the cause, and was informed Gen. Lincoln had
been there and had ordered them off to the Sprouts, at the
mouth of Mohawk river. He sought for, and found Lin-
coln, and demanded of him his authority for undertaking
the command of his men. Lincoln said it was by order of
General Schuyler. Stark desired him to tell Gen. Schuyler
that he considered himself adequate to the command of
his own men, and gave him copies of his commission and

This family version is corroborated by the testimony of
one of Stark's captains, Peter Clark, of Lyndeboro, New
Hampshire, who wrote his wife as follows;

"Manchester [Vt.], August 6, 1777.

. . . We have made us tents with boards but this
moment we have had orders to march for Bennington and
leave them, and from thence we are to march for Albany
to join the Continental Army, and try to stop Burgoyne in
his career. . . .

STARK'S command at BENNINGTON 203

August 7, 1777.'

A few minutes after I finished my letter there was a
considerable turn in affairs by reason of Gen.' Stark arriv-
ing in town. The orders we had for marching was given
by General Lincoln — what passed between Lincoln and
Stark is not known but by what we can gather together,
Stark chooses to command himself. I expect we shall
march for Bennington next Sabbath and where we shall go
to from there I cannot tell."

It was entirely natural for Stark to "choose to com-
mand himself" the brigade which he had raised, and which
he had been commissioned to command. It was also
inevitable that the sturdy and quick tempered old Indian
fighter should have felt affronted, when he found that his
volunteer militia had been ordered off without his knowl-
edge, and moreover that the order had been given by one
of the men who had been made a major-general when
Stark was passed over, the previous February, by Con-
gress. Consequently, a strong personal feeling inevitably
cropped out in the conversation between Lincoln and
Stark; and this personal element was naturally emphasized
in the following account sent by Lincoln to Schuyler.

"Bennington, Aug.^* 8.* 1777.

Dear General

Yesterday Gen.' Stark from New Hampshire came
into camp at Manchester — by his Instructions from that
State It is at his option to Act in Conjunction with the
Continental Armey or not. He seems to be exceedingly
soured and thinks he hath been neglected and hath
not had Justice done him by Congress — he is determined
not to join the Continental Armey untill the Congress
give him his Rank therein — his Claim is to command all
the Officers he Commanded last Year as also all those who
joined the Armey after him. Whether he will march his
Troops to Stillwater or not I am quite at a loss to know —

204 stark's command at bennington

but It he doth it is a fixed point with him to act there as a
Seperate Chor and take no orders from any officer in the
Northern Department saving your Honour for he saith
they all were Either Commanded by him the last year
or joined the Armey after him Its very unhappy that
this matter by him is carried to so great a length espe-
cially at at (sic) time when Every exertion for our Common
Safety is so absolutely Necessary I have Good Reason to
believe if the State of New Hampshire were Informed of
the Matter they would give New and Very different In-
structions to Gen.' Starkes. The Troops from the Massa-
chusetts are Collecting here I don't know what Number
may be Expected. I suppose the Rear will be up tomorrow
night at farthest I am Dear Sir with Regard and Esteam
your most Obed.' Humble Servt B. Lincoln."

To Lincoln's letter Schuyler made immediate and
tactful reply. "You will please to assure General Stark
that I have acquainted Congress of his situation, and that
I trust and entreat he will, on the present and alarming
crisis, waive his right, as the greater the sacrifice he makes
to his feelings, the greater will be the honor due to him."
Lincoln forwarded this letter to Stark with the generous
endorsement: "I can only subjoin my entreaties to his that
you will not now, when every exertion for the common
safety is necessary, suffer any consideration to prevent
your affording him all the succour in your power."

These three letters of Lincoln and Schuyler consti-
tute the evidence left by them as to any lack of harmony
with Stark. There is no reference to it by Schuyler in his
defence before the court martial; none by Stark after the
missing letter of the 7th of August; and none by Wash-
ington in his correspondence. Stark and Schuyler knew
and valued each other, and Lincoln acted honorably and

We have already seen that Schuyler was reconverted
to the plan of a flank attack and planned to send Lincoln

Stark's command at bennington 205

to aid Stark in carrying it out. Stark also on his part
shared the readiness to co-operate with Lincoln and Schuy-
ler in a flank movement toward the Hudson. He began his
march before the battle of Bennington and completed it after
winning the victory. On the 8th of August, Stark advanced
half way to Stillwater, marching some twenty miles south-
west from Manchester, Vermont, to Bennington. On the
13th, Stark was preparing to continue his march, appar-
ently to Cambridge in pursuance of the plan agreed upon
with Lincoln, when news came of the approach of Baum.
On the 13th, says Captain Peter Clark, "the whole Brigade
was paraded to march to Still Water and while under arms
the General, received intelligence that there was a large
body of the Enemy coming to destroy the stores at Ben-
nington, whereupon the Brigade was dismissed." On
receipt of Stark's letter of the same day, Lincoln replied:
"As the troops were not on the march, I am glad you
detained them m Bennington. ... If the enemy have
possession of that place . . . [i. e. Cambridge] appoint
another." The credit for this wise delay at Bennington
Stark generously gave to the Vermont Council of Safety,
with whom he evidently acted in fullest harmony. Two
days after the battle, he wrote to the Hartford Courant as

"I received orders to march to Manchester and act in
conjunction with Col. Warner. After my arrival at that
place I received orders from Major General Lincoln pur-
suant to orders from General Schuyler, to march my whole
brigade to Stillwater, and join the main army then under
his command. At the same time requested the whole of
the militia (by Gen. Schuyler's order) of the State of Ver-
mont to join him and march to Stillwater as aforesaid. In
obedience thereto I marched with my brigade to Benning-
ton on my way to join him, leaving that part of the coun-
try almost naked to the ravage of the enemy. The Hon-
orable the Council then sitting at Bennington were much
against my marching with my Brigade, as it was raised on

206 stark's command at bennington

their request, they apprehending great danger of the
enemy's approaching to that place, which afterwards we
found truly to be the case. They happily agreed to post-
pone giving orders to the militia to march."

Congress was not so well informed of the situation as
were Schuyler and Lincoln and the Vermont Council.
The action of Congress was therefore neither particularly
intelligent nor timely. The letter of the 8th of August
from Lincoln to Schuyler describing his meeting with
Stark, already quoted above, was forwarded by Schuyler
to Congress. Upon that body it made naturally an
impression that was both unfavorable and false. The
impression was unfavorable, since the letter so strongly
emphasized the personal grievances of Stark and his criti-
cism of Congress. The impression was false, because,
while not stating definitely the reasons for the actions of
of New Hampshire, the letter would give the casual or
prejudiced reader the false idea that New Hampshire gave
Stark the independent command because he felt he "hath
not had justice done him by Congress." In justice to
Lincoln it should be remembered that he wrote under per-
sonally irritating circumstances a personal letter intended
for Schuyler and not for Congress. A more careful perusal
of Lincoln's letter shows that it gives merely Stark's per-
sonal attitude; it was not intended to give and it did not
give any indication of the reasons which led New Hamp-
shire to give Stark his independent command. The cause
of New Hampshire's action was not a private grievance,
but a public necessity. To understand it we must turn
from the personal grievance described by Lincoln to the
facts testified to by Josiah Bartlett and now printed for
the first time. Unfortunately it was upon Lincoln's letter
that contemporary judgment of New Hampshire's action
was based, and later writers have started from this false
basis. The impression which that letter made upon a New
Hampshire delegate in Congress is shown in the following
shrewd comments appended by George Frost to a copy of

Stark's command at bennington 207

Lincoln's letter which he forwarded to the New Hamp-
shire authorties.

"The foregoing letter was Sent by Gen.' Lincoln to
Gen.' Schoyler and by P. Schoyler to Congress which is
Very alarming to Congress that Gen.' Starkes should take
Occasion to Resent any Supposed Affrunt by Congress to
him when his Country lays at Stake, at the same time
would take notis that we shall loos the benifet of our troops
being put in the Continentall pay Except the Measures are
alterd, and woud also observe he don't refuse to put him-
selfe under Gen.' Schoyler who is Recarled from that com-
mand and Congress has given the Command of the Armey
to Gen.' Gates, w^'' I suppose Gel. Starkes knew not of at
that time, as to the promotion of Officers in the Armey
the Congress went on a new plan agreaed on in Baltimore
(at the Raising the as it Called Standing Armey) that
Every State Should in Some measure have their propor-
tion of Gen.' Officers according to the Troops they Raised
by which Reason som officers was superseded or as they
call affronted."

Under the misleading impression derived from Lin-
coln's letter to Schuyler, Congress on the 19th of August,
three days after Stark's indendent instructions had enabled
him to render effective aid "to the common cause," passed
the following vote of censure, in complete ignorance of the
victory at Bennington:

^^Besolved, That a copy of general Lincoln's letter be
forthwith transmitted to the council of New-Hampshire,
and that they be informed, that the instructions which gen-
eral Stark says he has received from them are destructive
of miUtary subordination and highly prejudicial to the com-
mon cause at this crisis; and therefore that they be desired
to instruct general Stark to conform himself to the same
rules which other general officers of the militia are subject
to whenever they are called out at the expence of the
United States."

208 stark's command at bennington

In the debate on this resolution, the New Hampshire
delegates defended her action, on the basis of reasons con-
tained in a letter from Josiah Bartlett. "The militia of
that State had lost all confidence in the General Officers
whohad the command at Tyconderoga . . . they would not
turn out nor be commanded by such officers; the preserva-
tion of the lives of the inhabitants on our frontiers . . .
made such orders at that critical time absolutely necessary;
we were not about to justify General Stark for making a
demand of rank in the army at that critical time, but we
well knew he had a great deal to say for himself on that
head, and had . . . distinguished himself, while others
were advanced over his head. . . . We informed Congress
that we had not the least doubt but the first battle they
heard of from the North would be fought by Stark and
the troops commanded by him. . . . Judge of our feelings,
when the very next day we had a confirmation of what we
had asserted by an express from General Schuyler giving
an Account of the victory obtained by General Stark and
the troops under his command. We believe this circum-
stance only will make those easy who have been trying to
raise a dust in Congress."

The vote of censure by Congress was certainly ill-
timed; probably it would have never been proposed had
Congress waited one day longer. On the 4th of October,
Congress was better informed and passed a vote that was
more generous and more just.

^'■Resolved, That the thanks of Congress be presented
to general Stark of the New-Hampshire militia, and the
officers and troops under his command, for their brave and
successful attack upon, and signal victory over, the enemy
in their lines at Bennington; and that brigadier Stark be
appointed a brigadier general in the army of the United

The New Hampshire instructions to Stark were doubt-
less in theory "destructive of military subordination"; but
"military subordination" had to yield to the more imper-

STARK's command at BENNINGTON 209

ative necessity of a military force capable of "the preser-
vation of the lives of the inhabitants on our frontiers."
At that memorable three days' session in July, 1777, the
members of the New Hampshire General Court and of the
Committee of Safety were confronted, not with a ques-
tion of rank, but with the far more vital one of self-preser-
vation. They knew that a brigade could not be raised in
face of the universal loss of confidence in the generals of
the Northern Department, and of the fear that any militia
would be called to the "southward," away from the threat-
ened frontier. They had been summoned in extra session
not in response to calls for continental troops but to
answer the cry of distress from their Vermont neighbors.
They knew that men would volunteer promptly to serve
under Stark and that he was admirably fitted by nature and
experience to manage such a volunteer militia unhampered
by restrictions. They therefore left it to his discretion
whether he should join with continental troops or not.

The peculiar instructions giving Stark an independent
command seem admirably adapted to meet the peculiar
exigencies of the situation. That they were so adapted is
proven by the results which followed. Stark's independent
command enabled him, first, to recruit a brigade of 1,492
officers and men in six days, and to move forward at once,
knowing his volunteers would follow without hesitation;
second, to insist on a flank attack, based on sound
strategy; third, to reconvert Schuyler to this sound
strategy; fourth, to co-operate with militia from Vermont
and Massachusetts in retaining at Bennington a force suffi-
cient to check Baum and win the battle of Bennington;
and finally to restore confidence and then to march with
victorious troops to Stillwater and Saratoga.

Without the independent command, the presence of
Stark and his brigade at Bennington was an impossibility.
Without Stark and his brigade, the victory at Bennington
was impossible. Without Bennington, who can say what
a difference there might have been at Saratoga.^" It is

210 STARK's command at BENNINGTON

unnecessary to enlarge upon the importance of the Battle
of Bennington; it has been recognized from that day to
this by both American and British contestants and his-
torians. It is enough to refer to Washington's estimate of
what he called "the great stroke struck by Gen. Stark near
Bennington"; and to the judgment of the latest and most
epigrammatic of the English historians of the Revolution:
"Bennington . . . proved to be the turning point of the
Saratoga campaign which was the turning point of the
war." To one who examines carefully the records of that
day or the judgments of this, Stark's independent com-
mand appears a turning point not only in a decisive battle,
but also in a decisive campaign, and in an epoch-making
movement. To the sober second thought of his day or

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