BENNINGTON -- This Saturday is Bennington Battle Day across the state of Vermont, being the 237th anniversary of the Revolutionary War battle, but in Bennington the celebration will last all weekend.
The weekend will culminate in the Bennington Battle Day parade on Sunday, at 12:30 p.m. The parade, which is held in honor of Vermont's firefighters, will begin at the old middle school on Main Street and will make its way to the Bennington Fire Station via Depot Street and River Street. For those who cannot make the event, Catamount Access Television of Bennington and Greater Northshire Access Television of Manchester will simulcast the parade on their respective channels, with a pre-parade show beginning at noon. The pre-parade show will feature interviews with former CAT-TV staff member Judy Ziller and executive director of the Better Bennington Corporation, John Shannahan.
Historical re-enactments will also be taking place on both Saturday and Sunday at the Bennington Battle Monument and the Bennington Battlefield in Hoosick, N.Y. At the monument, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days, costumed reenactors will set up as a Living History Encampment, where there will be musket and artillery demonstrations, educational exhibits, and activities for children. Authentic cannons will be on display, and will be fired periodically throughout the day.
Also at the monument on Saturday, the Friends of the Bennington Battle Monument are putting on the Battle Day 5K road race.
At the battlefield, events will be ongoing throughout the day on both Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Here is the schedule of events for the two days, as provided by the Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site: Saturday, Aug.16: 11 a.m. Camps open to the public and Story of the Battle Exhibit opens (Barnett House, 30 Caretaker Road, Hoosick, N.Y.) Noon: Lunch. 1 p.m.: Meet the People of the Battle of Bennington (Barnett House). 1:30 p.m.: Troops participating in Nichols' Flanking March depart camp. 2:30 p.m.: Troop formation and safety inspection (Top of Hill). 4 p.m.: Storming of the "Dragoon Redoubt" (Top of Hill). 4:45 p.m.: The repulse of Breymann's relief force (Top of Hill). 5:30 p.m.: Remembrance Ceremony (Top of Hill). Sunday, Aug. 17: The day's events are all held near Barnett House, 30 Caretaker Road, Hoosick, N.Y. 10 a.m.: Camps open to public. 10:30 a.m.: Troop formation and safety inspection. 11a.m.: Stark's attack over the Walloomsac River. Noon: Lunch. 12:45 p.m.: Troop formation and safety inspection. 1:30 p.m.: "Battle for the Tory Fort. 2:15 p.m.: Pass in Review.
Additionally, the state of Vermont is offering free admission to it's state-owned historic sites on Saturday. The sites included are the Bennington Battle Monument, Mount Independence in Orwell, the Hubbardton Battlefield, Chimney Point in Addison, the Old Constitution House in Windsor, the Justin Morrill Homestead in Strafford, Eureka Schoolhouse in Springfield, the Chester A. Arthur Historic Site in Fairfield, and the Calvin Coolidge Historic Site in Plymouth Notch. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at Mount Independence, visitors will be able to view the short film "Commemorating the Battle of Bennington with Howard Coffin." At 2 p.m. on Saturday, the Hubbardton Battlefield will host storytelling with Vermont authors Nancy Means Wright and Lee Kemsley.
Some Bennington residents and guests will get a chance to start their Battle Day celebrations a little early, as the Village Chocolate Shoppe, at 471 Main Street, will be hosting a $5 ice cream buffet from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday Aug. 15, in commemoration of the holiday.
The Battle of Bennington, fought on August 16, 1777 in Walloomsac, N.Y., saw a colonial force of 2,000, led by General John Stark, defeat a detatchment of 700 British and German soldiers under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum, who had been sent by General John Burgoyne to raid Bennington for livestock and supplies. In Walter Hill Crockett's 1921 history, "The Green Mountain State, Vol. 2," he quotes Stark as rallying his men by saying, "There are your enemies, the Red Coats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow." In the end, 207 British were killed and 700 were captured, while the Americans had 30 killed and 40 wounded. Not long after the battle, Burgoyne would surrender at Saratoga and the French would join the war on the side of the colonies.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB