Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Pratt Migration V-Asa in the War IV

How did General Stark's plan of attack work at the so-called Battle of Bennington??
The plan worked out better than could have been expected. Colonel Baum was operating
at a tremendous disadvantage. He had been informed that the natives in the area were Tories. When the flanking columns in the guise of small groups of farmers (including Asa) appeared about three o'clock in the afternoon he assumed they were coming to help him, until they opened fire at close range.* Thereupon Colonels Hobart and Stickney advanced. The Canadians and Indians fled; the Tories ran after one volley, leaving Colonel Baum and the main position on the high ground northeast of the river with only his German and British troops and a few other brave souls.
* The New Hampshire militiamen had neither uniforms nor bayonets, thus they did not appear military..
Stark gave the order to attack, shouting, "There they are! We'll beat them before night, or Molly Stark will be a widow." The river was easily fordable and presented no obstacle, but the German dragoons on the hill resisted stoutly for two hours until their ammunition ran low and Colonel Baum fell mortally wounded. The first phase of the battle was over; the militia, disorganized by their victory, were scattered everywhere throughout the captured enemy camp. Then Colonel Breymann appeared on the scene leading the German reinforcements sent by General Burgoyne.
Now it was General Stark's turn to worry. He hastily gathered a few men together and attempted to make a stand across the main road to the southwest but was soon forced backward. Here he was fortunately joined by Colonel Warner's regiment which had finally arrived from Manchester. As other men appeared from the scene of the first battlefield (including Asa?) Stark and Warner gathered enough strength to repulse the German attacks, then assaulted the enemy on both flanks. About sunset Colonel Breymann, wounded, his coat shot full of holes, and with his mens' ammunition almost gone, ordered a retreat. The Americans undertook an immediate pursuit and pressed vigorously forward, and the retreat became a rout. The German drums beat the signal for a surrender conference but this noise meant nothing to the Americans who kept on firing until darkness put an end to the fighting. The Ammericans lost about 30 killed and 40 wounded, while the German-British casualties were over 900 men killed, wounded or captured.
Afterward General Stark paid tribute to his troops: "Too much honor cannot be given to the brave officers and soldiers for gallant behavior. They fought through the midst of fire and smoke, mounted two breastworks that was well fortified and supported by cannon..."
The significance of the Battle of Bennington: After Bennington General Burgoyne was no longer able to live off the land and had to supply his army from far-away Canada. This situation soon led to the halting of his invasion.
"As a final note to the significance of the Battle of Bennington, it may be observed that on October 17 Major General Burgoyne at Saratoga, New York, surrendered his entire army to the Americans. It was the greatest victory of the Revolutionary War to date. Stark's achievement at Bennington had led directly to the collapse of Burgoyne's 1777 campaign".
The British historian Trevelyn has recently written: "Bennington proved to be the turning point of the Saratoga campaign which was the turning point of the War." Makes you proud to be a Pratt, doesn't it?
NEXT: The New Hampshire Militia goes home.

Emailed Oct. 16

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