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The Battle of Bennington

Here is the account of the “Battle of Bennington” as related from the Brunswicker Journals:

Aug. 14.

Camp and head-Quarters at Douard’s House

The army set out from Fort Eduard under Major-General v.Riedesel’s orders, and took up its new position at Douard’s House.

It had been decided to throw a bridge across the river Hudson this side of the Saratogha Rapids, but as it was not ready Brigadier Fraser, who was to take up a position near Saratogha on the other side of the river Hudson, had to remain in his position today as well, and Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann moved into the camp about a gunshot behind Brigadier Fraser’s Corps.

Aug.15

Lt.-Col.Baum’s Report.

Lt.Col.Baum is attacked And repulses the enemy on The 14th

Lt.Col.Breymann’s Corps receives orders to Assist Lt.Col. Baum

Brig.Fraser’s Advanced corps Crosses the Hudson Is attacked again On the 15th And repulses The enemy

At 6 o’clock this morning General Burgoyne received a report from Lieutenant-Colonel Baum dated yesterday, the 14th, in which he notified that when he had wanted to march the whole way to Bennington on the 14th, his vanguard had been attacked by a rebel corps about 700 strong; however, when he had fired a few shots with his big guns at them, the enemy had made and some royalists who had come from Bennington, that another corps consisting of 1800 rebels was posted at Bennington in a fortified camp that had an advantageous position. This corps was expecting a reinforcement from the rebel army, and then intended attacking him in his position at Wolloms Coyk, which was close to Bennington on this side of the town. So he asked for a reinforcement which could assist him in carrying out his instructions. On receipt of this report General Burgoyne at once gave orders that General v.Riedesel should instruct Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann’s Corps to set out to the assistance of Lieutenant-Colonel Baum. General v.Riedesel, who was much concerned about this move, begged General Burgoyne to instruct Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann himself with respect to what he was to do, and General Burgoyne had this done in a few words by means of his aide-de-camp, Sir Francis Clarck. So Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann set out immediately with his reserve corps,. And left his tents as well as the equipage and ammunition his men could not carry themselves behind in the camp

In order to arouse the suspicious fears of the enemy at Saratogha, Brigadier Fraser had to set out at the same time with the advanced corps, whereupon he crossed the river Hudson by the swing bridge that had been thrown across the river on this side of the Saratogha Rapids, and took up his position on the heights of Saratogha. The heavy rain we had had for several days, the very bad roads resulting therefrom and the artillery to which worn out and exhausted horses were harnessed were the reasons why Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann had to remain in bivouac on this side of Cambridge today; but he took the precaution to inform Lieutenant-Colonel Baum of his approach, and the latter had moreover been informed of the departure of the Breymann Corps by a letter from General Burgoyne himself.

Lieutenant-Colonel Baum was again attacked today, but the enemy did not gain anything whatever thereby, and had to retire again after some shots had been fired at them from the big guns. The lieutenant-colonel had great confidence in the position he had taken up, and as he hoped the Breymann Corps would soon arrive he decided not to leave his post, but remained there quietly during the night between the 15th and 16th.

Aug.16.

Lt.Col.Baum’s Unfortunate Affair

Lieutenant-Colonel Baum’s unfortunate affair took place on the morning of the 16th, but nobody is really in a position to give an accurate account of it, as the different persons who were saved all give different report of the story. But after all the information has been collected, it is supposed that the following is about what happened.

Towards 9 o’clock in the morning detached bands in waistcoats and shirts and provided with guns assembled on different sides of his camp and in his rear. The Provincials and their leaders who were with the lieutenant-colonel assured him, that these were all friendly disposed royalists, almost 200 men of whom had already arrived under a certain officer in the militia named Forester. Colonel Skeenes, who was of the same opinion himself, is said to have assured Lieutenant-Colonel Baum of the same, and the lieutenant-colonel was still more confirmed in this belief, as these small bands lay down quite quietly in his rear, and the men wore the same badges on their hats as had been given to the Provincials in our army. Towards 10 o’clock the lieutenant-colonel was attacked exactly in the same manner as the day before, and the enemy was repulsed in the same manner. But shortly afterwards on a given signal the enemy attacked him on all sides and with the greatest vehemence, and now he plainly saw for the first time, that the troops which he had been told were royalists were nothing but rebels. Lieutenant-Colonel Baum, who had posted his Indians, Provincials and Canadians on various detached heights, was cut off from all these detached posts at the same time, and compelled to defend himself quite alone with the Dragoon Regiment. He withstood the enemy’s fire for more than 2 hours, but when he saw that his ammunition would soon be at an end, he considered it more advisable to save himself by means of a retreat. He cut his way twice through rebel bands, who have been estimated at between 4-5,000 men, but as there were no more cartridges at hand he gave the men orders to hang the guns over their shoulders and draw their swords, and then they forced their way through once more. Nothing more has ever been heard of him after this event, except that it is known that he and the dragoons who were not killed on the spot were taken prisoners. Most of the Indians, Provincials and Canadians who had been made over to this corps by our army saved themselves by escaping through the wood, and reached the army again in safety.

Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann set out from his bivouac at daybreak, and reached the bridge at St. Coyk Mills at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, where he met Governor Skeenes, who had probably left Lieutenant-Colonel Baum that morning before the engagement. The said Governor Skeenes assured Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann, that he was only 2 English miles from Lieutenant-Colonel Baum’s camp, but never told him anything whatever either about what had happened to Lieutenant-Colonel Baum or that he had heard a single shot. Ignorant of all that happened to Lieutenant-Colonel Baum’s Corps Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann’s great wish was to hasten on and join forces with Lieutenant Baum. So he crossed the aforesaid bridge with his corps, and after advancing about 1400 steps he saw a large troop of men in waistcoats and provided with guns, who were in possession of a hill to the left of him. The governor, Colonel Skeenes, assured Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann that they were not rebels but all royalists. However, the lieutenant-colonel, who would not rely on this assurance, sent off a patrol in that direction, in which Governor Skeenes took part and which was immediately greeted with a volley of shot.

Lt.Col.

Breymann’s Engagement

Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann ordered Major v.Barner to advance at once against the enemy with his battalion of Light Infantry, whilst he marched to the right with the Battalion of Grenadiers and posted his big guns between the two regiments so that they faced a block house the enemy were occupying, and thus the attack on the enemy commenced. Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann drove the enemy away from 3 heights, but as his munition for the big guns as well as for the troops had come to an end, he had to stop. The enemy, who had noticed this deficiency, again recovered. The lieutenant-colonel assembled his men (who were stationed rather far apart in the straggling woods) as well as he could, and remained facing the enemy until night cam on, when he considered it advisable to withdraw across the bridge, so as not to be cut off from it. In spite of all the trouble he took he could not save his guns, all the horses of which had been killed and the officer in command of the artillery mortally wounded and many artillerymen either killed or wounded, as they were within range of the enemy’s big and small guns, and he himself received a wound in the leg whilst engaged in the work of dragging the cannon back from which he employed his company, and he also got some more of his company either killed or wounded whilst doing so. So he made up his mind he would rather save the corps than sacrifice still more men in vain. Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann did not lose more of his corps than the dead and wounded he had to leave behind on the champ de bataille, so that no reliable report can be made of these men either as yet. The lieutenant-Colonel commenced his march back to Cambridge and from there to the army again at midnight, and reached the Batten-Kill in the afternoon.

Aug.17.

Gen. Burgoyne Advances as Far as the BattenKill on Receipt of the News of the 2 Unfortunate engagements

Occupies his former camp At Douard’s House.

General Burgoyne sent Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann and Baum the order yesterday afternoon, that they were to attack the enemy conjointly, if circumstances mad this possible and if they believed they would be successful in their attack. But these orders could not reach the two aforesaid commandants any more, as their unhappy fate had unfortunately been decided before same arrived.

General Burgoyne received the news of these 2 unfortunate events at 3 o’clock on the morning of the 17th, and as we had not been able to obtain any accurate news of the condition the two corps were in as yet, he decided to set out with the whole army after talking the matter over with Major-General v.Riedesel, so as to succor either the one or the other corps should this still be possible. Captain Gerlach was sent to give Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann orders to join the army, should he still be able to reach same, and to inform him of the advance of the army and that General Burgoyne would do everything to liberate him. General v.Riedesel had to lead the army, which set out at 6 o’clock in the morning. General Burgoyne had meanwhile gone to Brigadier Fraser’s Corps, who had also advanced against the enemy, as the latter had shown signs of attacking him where he had been stationed. General v.Riedesel received orders from General Burgoyne to remain near the Batten-kill with the army, and to take up his position there. At the same time the report came from Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann, that he had not only been saved, but that he was not more that 6 miles away from the army. On receipt of this report, which was immediately made known to General Burgoyne, the latter gave General v.Riedesel orders to lead the army back to its former camp at Duard’s House, and to give orders to the von Breymann Corps to occupy its old camp near the bridge on this side of the Saratogha Rapids.

After General Burgoyne’s designs on the magazine at Bennington had been frustrated, he could very well see \that he could not advance with the army until the provisions that were required had been brought to Fort George from Carillon, and that a much larger magazine would have to be constructed close to the river Hudson by men from the fort. He decided therefore to remain at Duard’s House with the army, and General v.Riedesel received orders to post himself at John’s Ferme 7 English miles on the other side of Fort Eduard on the way to Fort Anne with the 47th English Regiment and the v.Rhez and Hesse-Hanau Regiments as well as the artillery belonging to 6 heavy guns, in order to guard the communication with Fort Anne as well as with Fort George. So General v.Riedesel marched from Duard’s House with the aforesaid troops on the 18th and encamped at Fort Eduard.

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