"...They are ours, or this night Molly Stark
sleeps a widow!"
The battle of Benington
John Stark served as a second lieutenant under Major Robert Rogers during the French and Indian War. He gained valuable
combat experience and a detailed knowledge of the northern frontier of the American colonies.
When General Jeffery Amherst, in 1759 ordered Rogers' Rangers to journey from Lake George to the Abenaki village of St.
Francis, deep in Quebec. The Rangers went north and attacked the Indian town. Stark, Rogers' second-in-command of all
ranger companies, refused to accompany the attacking force out of respect for his Indian foster-parents residing there. He
returned to New Hampshire to his wife, whom he had married the previous year.
At the end of the war, Stark retired as a captain and returned to Derryfield, New Hampshire.
The Battle of Bennington:
In 1777, Burgoyne sent an expedition under Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum to capture American supplies at Bennington,
Vermont. Stark heard about the raid and marched his force to Bennington. Meanwhile, Baum received intelligence that
Bennington was held by 1,800 men. On August 14, Baum asked Burgoyne for reinforcements but assured his army commander
that his opponents would not give him much trouble. Colonel Seth Warner also set out with his 350 men to reinforce Stark.
After waiting out a day of rain, at 3:00 PM on the 16th Stark sent 200 militia to the right, 300 men to the left, 200 troops against
a position held by Tories, and 100 men on a feint against Baum's main redoubt. In the face of these attacks, the Indians,
loyalists, and Canadians fled, leaving Baum stranded in his main position. As his envelopment took effect, Stark led his remaining
1,200 troops against Baum, saying, "We'll beat them before night or Molly Stark's a widow." After an ammunition wagon
exploded, Baum's men tried to hack their way out of the trap with their dragoon sabers. Baum was fatally hit and his men gave
up around 5:00 PM. With Stark's men somewhat scattered by their victory, Breymann's column appeared on the scene. At this
moment Colonel Seth Warner's 350 Green Mountain Boys arrived to confront Breymann's men. Between Stark and Warner,
the Germans were stopped and then forced to withdraw. The New Hampshire and Vermont soldiers severely mauled
Breymann's command but the German officer managed to get away with about two-thirds of his force.
By keeping the British from getting supplies, and by subtracting several hundred men from the enemy, Stark's action contributed
to the surrender of Burgoyne's northern army after the Battles of Saratoga by raising American morale. For this feat Stark won
his coveted promotion to brigadier general in the Continental Army on October 4, 1777.
Molly Stark gained historical notoriety due to her husband's battle call of "There are your enemies, the Red Coats and the
Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!" before engaging with the British and Hessian army in the Battle
of Bennington. Molly Stark is also known for her success as a nurse to her husband's troops during a smallpox epidemic and for
opening their home as a hospital during the war.
She is honored throughout New Hampshire and Vermont with many businesses, streets and schools that bear her name, and the
Molly Stark State Park in Wilmington, Vermont. The Molly Stark Trail, a byway otherwise known as Route 9, that crosses
southern Vermont is named for her and is thought to be the route used by General Stark on his victory march home from the
Battle of Bennington.
At Hudson Crossing Park, you can visit Stark's Knob and see pillow basalt from millions of years ago. Historians have
determined that it was on the top of that hill that John Stark and his army, in 1777, placed canon to prevent the Burgoyne's army
from fleeing north and virtually "Put the cork in the bottle."
One of our board members, who is also an artist and his friend, learned that at one point John Stark was disappointed with the
American Congress over them not authorizing a new uniform after he had taken command of his troops. The story goes that it
was Molly who convinced him to stay the course and not quit the cause. Therefore, in her honor, they designed "Molly's Knob"
that stands near our boat dock.
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