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General John Stark, at the Battle of Bennington.

Fought on August 16th of 1777, and often called the turning point of the American War of Independence, the Battle of Bennington directly led to the Battle of Bemis Heights where British General John Burgoyne was defeated. Led into battle by Brigadier General John Stark, troops amassed from neighboring militia by Ethan Allen and Seth Warner defended the colonial military stores in Bennington, VT. What did Brigadier General John Stark able to do during the battles of Saratoga to make them such a decisive turning point of the war?

Brigadier General John Stark succeeded at the battles of Saratoga, including the Battle of Bennington, not only because of his innovative (yet risky) battlefield tactics, but also because he had a well-established repertoire with his men, and the men of the Revolutionary War.

Stark, a popular and well-liked veteran of the French and Indian war (1754-1763), had experience in the art of war. A charismatic and optimistic man, Washington had sent him home to recruit new troops in 1775. Stark traveled around in a cheerful and optimistic mood while talking to townsfolk as he recruited replacements for his troops. In only three weeks before The Battle of Bennington, Stark had raised a contingent of nearly 1,500 officers and men.

Stark had a talent for commanding men, exhibiting incredible tactical ability by providing purpose, direction, and motivation both on and off the battlefield. He was a lover of the cause. In John Stark's case "the cause was American liberty, and he never made any bones about it."

He developed ability to foresee the enemy's moves, and to forestall them. This gained him distinction amongst Revolutionary Officers . Upon hearing that there was a small band of Indians in the area, Stark dispatched Colonel Gregg with 200 men to investigate. From their reconnaissance, Stark learned of a large body of the enemy on their way . The British had followed Gregg on his return where they met up with Stark's army on the banks of the Walloomsac River. Rather than risk the lives of his men, Stark marched his men back about a mile and camped for the evening.

At this encampment, a council of war was called, where Stark proposed a tactic of double envelopment. Colonel Moses Nichols would be dispatched with two hundred men to the rear of Baum's left flank, while Colonel Samuel Herrick would take a detachment off three hundred men to the rear of Baum's right flank. Attacking Baum's front would be a force of three hundred men divided between Colonels David Hobart and Thomas Stickney.

At precisely three o'clock on August 16th, men from Herrick's and Nichols' attacked Baum's troops rear on the banks of the Walloomsac, effectively cutting off his lines of communication to reinforcements from Heinrich Breymann. Hobart and Stickney pressed on for a full frontal attack. A call for reinforcements came in from Nichols and Stark led his remaining one hundred into battle. The battle ensued for two hours, lasting until Baum had depleted his ammunition.

At sunset, Baum retreated with Stark close behind. Stark pursued them until dark and then allowed them to leave for fear of losing more of his men. By the end of the battle, Stark had lost only 30 men in battle, with 40 wounded. The enemy lost 209 men with 700 men captured and marched to Massachusetts . Also lost in battle was Colonel Baum, with his instructions from General Burgoyne falling into the hands of the American rebellion. Stark immediately forwarded these plans onto the Council of New Hampshire.

After the Battle of Bennington, most of the militiamen returned home to New Hampshire as their enlistment time was up. This did not deter Stark, who collected a new brigade from New Hampshire to continue towards the cause. During the Battle of Bemis Heights, Stark and his troops recaptured Fort Edwards, causing problems for Burgoyne's troops that retreated from Bemis Heights on October 12th .

Brigadier General John Stark's determination, persevering battlefield tactics, and love for the cause helped bring victory to the American during the Saratoga campaigns. While risky, his maneuvers at the Battle of Bennington let to victory and the eventual surrender of General Burgoyne at Saratoga in October. For his efforts, he was appointed to Brigadier General of the Continental on October 4th 1777 and notified of his new appointment by letter on the 5th. General Stark was promoted to Major general when he retired from the service in 1783.

(This was a paper I wrote for my Military History course at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. I wantd to make sure it got out to the masses. Hopefully someone can use part of it)

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