By the end of July 1777, the British invasion from Canada under General John Burgoyne had progressed to Fort Edward on the Hudson River. Desperately in need of supplies, Burgoyne dispatched an expedition on August 11 under Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum to capture the American storehouses at Bennington, Vermont, which were thought to be guarded by only a handful of rebel militia. About half of Baum's troops were mercenaries who spoke only German. Although from Brunswick, these men, like all German troops, were commonly called "Hessians" by the Americans. The rest of Baum's force consisted of small detachments of British sharpshooters, Indians, Canadians, and American loyalists.
The British, however, had grossly underestimated American strength. New Hampshire had raised more than 1,500 men under General John Stark to meet Burgoyne's threat, and additional militia from Vermont and western Massachusetts also turned out. On August 14, aware that American resistance was growing, Baum encamped his troops on and around this hill, just five miles from Bennington, to await further reinforcements.
On August 16, following a day of rain, Stark deployed his troops to attack Baum from all sides. In a two-hour battle, Baum's outposts collapsed and his main position atop this hill was overrun, but not before Baum's dragoons fought off the attackers with their sabers. Too late to help Baum, reinforcements under Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich Von Breymann approached from the west, only to be driven off by Seth Warner's Continental Regiment. Baum was killed in the battle, as were over 200 of his men, and all but a few of the remainder became American prisoners.
"Wherever the King's forces point, militia to the amount of three or four thousand assemble in twenty-four hours,
" a frustrated Burgoyne wrote to his superiors after the defeat. Vermont, he added, contained "the most rebellious race on the continent, and hangs like a gathering storm upon my left
." The Americans made their stand at Saratoga, where Burgoyne, his army weakened by dwindling supplies, surrendered on October 17, 1777.
]Colonels Nichols & Herrick Join Forces
At 3:00 PM on August 16, a column of 200 New Hampshire militiamen led by Colonel Moses Nichols joined a column of 300 Vermont troops under Colonel Samuel Herrick at a point several hundred yards to the north of this site. Both columns had escaped detection by marching wide around Baum's fortifications. Five hundred militiamen formed for battle and charged the breastworks on this hill. Baum's men responded with a murderous fusillade of cannon and musket fire, which lasted until their ammunition was exhausted. The Americans converged on the hill, and in savage hand-to-hand combat overran Baum's main position. Only a handful of the defenders escaped death or capture.
Colonel Moses Nichols led 200 New Hampshire militia around this hill to avoid detection by Baum's sentries.