Hoosick Township Historical Society

The Skirmish at San Coick / St Croix - now known as North Hoosick.
(the first skirmish in the War over Walloomsac August 14, 1777)

It was the third year of the American Revolution and the British army was well into a campaign designed to divide the colonies in half with a massive three-pronged attack. The plan was for General Burgoyne with the main force of over 8000 men, to drive south through the Champlain Valley and into the upper Hudson Valley. General Howe was to advance from New York City through the lower Hudson Valley. Colonel Leger was to advance from Lake Ontario eastward through the Mohawk Valley. The three forces were to meet in Albany before the winter of 1777 ended the campaign season. By early August, Burgoynes army was slowed and weakened due to lack of provisions. Burgoyne assigned Lieut. Col. Friedrich Baum to lead an expeditionary force of about 500 men with a goal to capture military supplies held at Bennington and to collect cattle and horses along the road from Saratoga to Bennington for shipment back to the main army.

Baum halted his march at sundown on August 13th west of the Hamlet of San Coick.

General John Stark was assembling a force of American Militia in Bennington to oppose the advance of Burgoyne. With forces at 1000 men, Stark diverted his attention towards reports of British forces moving towards Bennington. Stark assigned Col. William Gregg to lead a scouting party of 216 men westward from Bennington along the road to Saratoga to make discoveries about the British forces.

Gregg halted his march at sundown on August 13th and posted his troops at the Mill in San Coick.

Very early on the morning of the 14th, Baum moved forward to San Coick, where he encountered Gregg and a brief skirmish ensued. This accidental meeting was the first skirmish of the battle that would follow.

Picture of San Coick Mill

The Following letter was written by British Col. Baum to General Burgoyne.

Sancoick, Aug. 14, 1777, 9 o'clock

I have the honor to inform your Excellency that I arrived here at eight in the morning, having had intelligence of a party of the enemy being in possession of a mill, which they abandoned at our approach, but in their usual way fired from the bushes, and took the road to Bennington. A savage was slightly wounded. They broke down the bridge, which has retarded our march about an hour. They left in the mill about seventy eight barrels of very fine flour, one thousand bushels of wheat, twenty barrels of salt, and about one thousand pounds' worth of pearl and potashes. I have ordered thirty provincials and an officer to guard the provisions and the pass of the bridge. By five prisoners here they agree that fifteen to eighteen hundred men are in Bennington, but are supposed to leave it on our approach. I will proceed so far today as to fall on the enemy tomorrow early, and make such disposition as I think necessary from the intelligence I may receive. People are flocking in hourly and want to be armed. The savages cannot be controlled; they ruin and take everything they please.

I am, etc.
F Baum

Following the skirmish at the Mill, Col. Gregg retreated toward Bennington to be met by General John Stark and the whole brigade along the road east of San Coick. Stark set his position in the hills that flanked the road above the flood plain of the Walloomsac River (Battlefield Park) and waited for engagement. British Col. Baum left a small guard at the Mill and continued on the road to Bennington where he met resistance from Starks troops. Baum’s scouts perceived a large American force (unknown to Baum,the final count was 2500) menposted on a ridge 1,000 yards before them. Baum set his position on some high ground and sent for reinforcements from Burgoyne’s main force (the total British force would be 1100). A tactical standoff on the 14th and rainy weather on the 15th held the forces at bay. On August 16th, 1777 a 48 hour battle began with the outcome a defeat for the British which was a considerable factor leading to the defeat of General Burgoyne’s army a few weeks later in Stillwater. The War over Walloomsac became known as The Battle of Bennington and is believed to have been the turning point for the American Revolution.

Compiled for HoosickHistory by Gary Kjelgaard - April, 2000.
Source: New York State Museum Bulletin No. 473, 1989 by Philip Lord Jr.

The following information is from Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York State by J. H. French, published in 1860.
Courtesy of: www.rootsweb.com

The Battle at Walloomsac was one of the most important of the military events connected with the expedition of Burgoyne in 1777. About the first of August, the British army reached the Hudson and took possession of Fort Edward. For several weeks they had been engaged in repairing the bridges and in clearing the roads from the impediments left by the retreating Americans; and, upon their arrival at the Hudson, Burgoyne congratulated himself that his troubles were at an end. His greatest source of embarrassment was in securing provisions for his army and in obtaining means of transportation. With 15 days' hard labor he was only enabled to bring 10 bateaux and 4 days' provisions from Lake George. Learning that the Americans had collected a large quantity of military stores, cattle, and horses at Bennington, he was persuaded by Major Skene, against the advice of his most experienced officers, to send a party to capture them. The detachment consisted of 500 Hessians, Canadians, and Tories, under the command of Colonel Baum. They were instructed "to try the affections of the county, to mount Reidsel's dragoons, to complete Peters's corps [of Loyalists], and to obtain a large supply of cattle, horses, and carriages." This accomplished, he was to scour the country from Rockingham to Otter Creek, go down as far at Brattleboro [Vermont], and join the main body by the great road to Albany. The detachment left the camp at Fort Edward on August 13; and on the evening of the same day they surprised and captured five Americans at Cambridge. On August 14, they advanced as far as the mill upon White Creek River, in the northeastern part of Hoosick, and within 12 miles of Bennington. General Stark, who commanded the American forces at Bennington, learning of the approach of the enemy, took immediate measures for defense. He sent an order to Colonel Warner, at Manchester, to march immediately with his regiment of Green Mountain Boys; he rallied the neighboring militia, and on August 13, he sent out an advance guard of 200 men, under Lieutenant-Colonel Gregg, to impede the progress of the enemy. On the morning of August 14, he marched with his whole force to the support of Gregg, and about five miles from Bennington, he met Gregg in full retreat, with the enemy within one mile of him. Both armies chose strong positions and threw up temporary entrenchments. Baum, alarmed at the number of Americans, sent for a reinforcement. On August 15, a heavy rain set in, and the day was spent in skirmishing and in preparing for the battle. Colonel Warner's regiment arrived at Bennington in the evening, and there stopped to dry themselves and recruit after their fatiguing march. Stark, fearing that the enemy might receive reinforcements, resolved to attack them early on the morning of August 16. Previous to the signal for attack, he made the following laconic speech to his men: "See there, men! There are the red-coats. Before night they are ours, or Molly Stark will be a widow." The attack was at once made simultaneously at all points. The Indians fled at the beginning of the conflict, and the Tories were soon driven from their posts, leaving the Hessians to sustain the weight of the engagement. After 2½ hours of hard fighting, the enemy gave way at all points, and commenced a disorderly retreat. While the Americans were busy in plundering the abandoned camp of the enemy, and in detached parties were engaged in pursuit, Colonel Breyman, with a reinforcement of 500 men, arrived. He met the flying fugitives about two miles from the scene of action and immediately charged upon the broken ranks of the Americans, the tide of battle driven helplessly from the field where they had so lately been victorious. At this moment Colonel Warner's regiment arrived from Bennington and checked the advance of the British. Stark rallied his broken forces behind the fresh troops, and soon the battle again became general. At sunset the British fled toward the Hoosick and were pursued by the Americans until dark. The Americans lost about 30 killed and 40 wounded. The British loss, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, was 934. The result of this battle was disastrous in the extreme to Burgoyne, and contributed more than any other event to his final surrender at Saratoga.