As we await our May 1st reopening, we have some news to share for the month of February.
We mentioned in the last newsletter that there would be a reenactment for the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Bennington. A Website has been created with information on the basic schedule of events and rules for participants.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the Friends of Bennington Battlefield Newsletter are invited to do so! Articles that will be considered for submission must relate in some way to the events, figures or commemoration of the battle. The deadline for submission for the next edition is June 15th. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
Our monthly discussions continue to be lively. Please consider joining us as we mull over An eyewitness account of the American Revolution and New England life : the journal of J.F. Wasmus, German company surgeon, 1776-1783. We will meet up at 6:00 PM at Brown’s Walloomsac Taproom in North Hoosick, NY.
The next meeting of the Friends of Bennington Battlefield will occur March 16th, time and place TBD. Keep a look out for updates.
A dragoon volley captured by photographer Stephen Bradley during the 2014 reenactment.
Finally, inspired by the work of Robert Selig in collecting primary sources on the battle, we are continuing that undertaking by including an excerpt from The Journal of Claude-Nicolas-Guillaume de Lorimier. More such sources may be found here and clicking the "Education" tab.
I sent off Captain Lamothe [to headquarters] to make a report of what had happened and I received orders to rejoin the army. We marched for Sarasota [sic] the next day and there I was sent under Colonel Baum’s command in the direction of Bennington. Baum had been ordered to advance until he was repulsed, which we did successfully, driving off all the ambushes that had been laid for us. However, once we reached the hills around Bennington we ran into opposition from a considerable number of the enemy. This made me decide to call a halt and I wrote a note to the respectable colonel to hurry forward. He did this, even though he had to march all night, and came up on our position at daybreak. When he had judged for himself the great number of the enemy he decided to ask for reinforcements from the army, and while we were waiting for them our troops hurriedly dug themselves in and established a two-gun battery. On the second day we received a reply that Major Breymann was coming up with 500 men.
When they heard this, the Indians asked me to suggest to Colonel Baum that we fall back upon the reinforcements during the night which was very dark and which would serve to cover our withdrawal. I did speak to the Colonel and he replied that the Indian’s idea was sound and that he was grateful for their suggestion, but his orders were so strict that he could not withdraw and leave his position undefended. I said nothing of all this to anyone, for the whole lot, Indians and volunteers alike, would have abandoned us. The next morning we saw a great deal of movement and perceived that the enemy was preparing to attack. I established myself on some high ground with my Indians, and there I heard four musket shots on our right, the same number on our left and four behind us. Not doubting that this was the enemy’s signal to attack, I went and found the Colonel and suggested to him that I be allowed to go forward with the left-hand column of my Indians in the hope that we might succeed in routing the enemy. Colonel Baum approved.
I returned to my Indians and we had marched about 600 yards when our scouts were killed just in front of us. The Indians fell back upon the camp and only one Caughnawaga named Jakonowe came forward with me. The enemy spotted us and we became the target of a considerable fusillade. The Indian and I flung ourselves flat on the dead run to let the volley go by and then I rejoined my party. I wasn’t hurt, but I found them in disorder. By this time, Colonel Baum was coming under heavy attack and since I had only about 150 men I sent Martin Hasaregoua [to scout]; he came back saying the enemy were too numerous for us to try an attack.
I fell back on the left and Martin went out ahead to scout, or so he said, since I didn’t see him again until we got back to Sarasota. I still continued the movement I had started, believing that I might take the enemy in the read by surprise. To do this, I had to jump over a fence and there I fell into a fairly deep valley where I found myself face to face with the left-hand column of the enemy. I gave the war cry and we fired, but we got a volley in return from the American rear column that had come up to join the column of the left. Fortunately for us, the enemy wavered an in their confusion bean firing at each other. Their fire went over our heads, but we were hemmed in on all sides and couldn’t make our way back into the camp.
Here I have forgotten to mention that Major Campbell had accompanied me as a volunteer. In the midst of all this firing, I just had time to shout to him, “Let’s get back to the reinforcements,” which we did at top speed. Once we were out of danger I saw that I was short one man and that poor Major Campbell had swooned. This held us up for a while, since we set about hastily picking blueberries and feeding them to the major so that he was soon fit to travel again.
Not far from this place we met Major Breymann who ordered his troops to doff their packs and we turned toward the enemy on the double. But we had hardly gone 400 yards along the base of a very high crag when we received a terrible volley of musket fire from some traitors who, two hours earlier, had come into our entrenchments as friends on Major Skene’s recommendation. These wretches subjected our troops to a dreadful fire and there was nothing we could do about it because the rock was too steep for us to get at them.
The major asked me to climb the crag, which I did with my little party. When we came near, the scoundrels I had taken for friends and to whom I had given pieces of paper to stick in their hats that we might recognize them in battle, I cried out, “Who goes there?” They replied, “Friends” and opened fire on us. The Indians shrieked the war cry and without my being able to persuade them that it was a mistake, my own Indians left me, snaking their way from rock to rock, and I found myself alone. I went forward on the side where the enemy had withdrawn; there I saw a man making his way toward me. I called out, “Who goes there?” and he answered, “Friend,” while still advancing. I too made my way towards him, but fearing treachery I secretly cocked my gun and repeated, “Who goes there?” I had made up my mind to fire if he came another step in my direction, but he forestalled me. Saying “Congress,” he fired from the hip. His aim was so bad that the ball struck me in the leg. I fired in turn and got him in the stomach and then kneeled down to have a look at my own wound. I was just getting ready to go and see if my man was dead or alive when I saw about sixty Americans coming towards me. I fled limping off, and seeing that my leg held up under me I soon out-distanced the enemy while they fired several shots after me in vain. When I got back to the read party, I found Major Campbell ; Major Breymann was wounded in the shoulder, and his party was completely routed. I also found my won group of Indians who procured me a horse so that I could make it back to Saratoga.
Claude-Nicolas-Guillaume de Lorimier, At War with The Americans: The Journal of Claude-Nicolas-Guillaume de Lorimier, Translated by Peter Aichinger, Press Porcepic, n.d, 64-66.