Today, July 7, 1777: Hubbardton – Vermont’s Only Revolutionary War Battle
Between 1755 and 1763, the French and Indian War took place with the British. Around Lake Champlain, the French held key areas at the beginning of the war, but lost those areas by the war’s end.
One of the former French positions was Fort Ticonderoga, on the western shores of Lake Champlain in New York. After the French and Indian War, Fort Ticonderoga fell into disarray until a fire in 1773 destroyed the British fort at Crown Point. Upon the destruction of the fort, the British moved their position to Fort Ticonderoga, rebuilding much of the fort.
On May 10, 1775, just three weeks after the beginning of the Revolutionary War in Lexington, Massachusetts, Americans Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, along with Benedict Arnold, launched a surprise attack on Fort Ticonderoga, taking the fort from the British.
Over 60 tons of artillery and supplies were then moved from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston where they fortified Dorchester Heights. This reduced the defenses of the fort, which proved to be a mistake.
In June 1777, British General John Burgoyne devised a plan to drive south from Canada along New York’s eastern border and separating the New England colonies from the rest of the colonies, making them easier to defeat.
American General Arthur St. Clair was in command of Fort Ticonderoga with about 3,000 troops.
On July 1, 1777, Burgoyne landed his forces just north of Fort Ticonderoga. German General Baron Friedrich Adolf Riedesel and his Brunswickers, fighting with Burgoyne, landed just south of the fort.
On July 5, 1777, St. Clair decided to abandon Fort Ticonderoga after dark and headed 15 miles southeast into what is now Vermont. They crossed Lake Champlain using floating bridges. They marched towards Hubbardton and Castleton. They stopped at Hubbardton to give Colonel Ebenezer Francis time for his 11th Massachusetts Regiment to arrive. Francis’s regiment was serving as the rearguard, protecting the rest of St. Clair’s forces as they retreated southeast.
On July 6, 1777, while waiting for Francis and his regiment to arrive, St. Clair took most of his forces and headed on to Castleton, leaving Colonel Seth Warner and Colonel Nathan Hale behind to wait at Hubbardton for Francis.
Burgoyne learned that St. Clair had left Hubbardton with the bulk of his forces, heading to Castleton. He dispatched General Simon Fraser and Riedesel to pursue the retreating Americans.
On this day, July 7, 1777, Francis was not prepared for an attack, as he believed that his lead over the British was greater than it was. At 5:00 am, Fraser arrived just outside the American encampments at Hubbardton and launched his attack into the American lines. They advanced through the Americans, until Francis and Warner were able to regroup and form a strong defense between a couple of hills. Then Riedesel arrived and helped reinforce Fraser’s troops. As the American lines began to weaken, Warner ordered his troops to scatter into the woods and eventually join up with St. Clair at fort Edward further south.
When the battle was over, the American rearguard forces suffered 41 killed, 96 wounded and 234 captured including Nathan Hale. The British and German forces suffered 60 killed and 158 wounded.
Although the Battle of Hubbardton was a British victory, it was also an American victory in that the rearguard actions of Francis and Warner allowed St. Clair to retreat and regroup. A month later, Warner was part of the American victory at the battle of Bennington.
The Battle of Hubbardton was the only Revolutionary War battle to take place in what is now Vermont.
Sources for the above includes: An Epic Time Line of the Past; Hubbardton Battlefield; The Battle of Hubbardton 1777; Hubbardton Battlefield; Ti’s Evacuation and the Battle of Hubbardton; Battle of Hubbardton; The Battle of Hubbardton; Battle of Hubbardton; American Revolution: Battle of Hubbardton