July 7th marks the anniversary of the 1777 Battle of Hubbardton, in Vermont. The battle was one of the only engagements in what’s now the state of Vermont during the American Revolutionary War, although the capture of Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and the Battle of Valcour Island in 1776 did spill over into Vermont as well.
Like the Battle of Bennington, it holds a particularly outsized role in the conflict itself owing to it having taken place in the lead-up to the Battles of Saratoga.
At the beginning of July 1777, British General John Burgoyne embarked on the Saratoga Campaign, an effort to try and gain control of the Hudson River Valley and take Albany, NY. His larger goal for the campaign was to wall off New England from the rest of the colonies and help bring an end to the rebellion.
Burgoyne and his forces departed from Quebec in June, and reached Crown Point by the 30th. The fort there was largely undefended and from there, he moved south to Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, where the American forces had been garrisoned. Those American forces, under the command of General Arthur St. Clair, were heavily outnumbered.
Fighting across Fort Ticonderoga‘s defenses began on July 2nd, but when the British forces brought cannons up to Mount Defiance to fire down on the fortification, St. Clair ordered an evacuation, and his forces retreated into the depths of the New Hampshire Grants towards Castleton and Hubbaron, Vermont. His retreat allowed Burgoyne to capture both locations on July 5th and 6th. From there, he set out to pursue and destroy the retreating American army.
On July 7th, he caught up with them at Hubbardton. The Green Mountain Boys, under the command of Colonel Seth Warner and the New Hampshire Regiment under Colonel Nathan Hale, were ordered to remain behind and protect the main army. As Christopher Wren writes in his book Those Turbulent Sons of Freedom: Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys and the American Revolution (Simon & Schuster, 2018) “Warner and his Green Mountain Boys had battle-tested such tactics in the retreat from Quebec” not long before, and that they were now fighting on “home ground.”
The British ultimately prevailed in the battle, but it was a costly victory. Warner and Hale bought valuable time for St. Clair, and the stiff resistance proved to be a much-needed morale boost to revolutionary forces. The Saratoga Campaign ultimately came to a halt, and Burgoyne would ultimately surrender after his defeat at the Battles of Saratoga in October.
You can visit the battlefield and walk along the same stretches of land where the two armies they faced off against one another. The Vermont Historical Society also has items from the battle at their museum in Montpelier.
Illustrations, from above: A diorama of the Battle of Hubbardton, Vermont 1777 in the museum of the Hubbarton Battlefield State Historic Site; and a detail from a 1780 map showing the area around Fort Ticonderoga; “Huberton” can be seen southeast of the fort.