The Green Mountain Boys were a militia group formed in the 1760s in the New Hampshire Grants region of Vermont. Led by the fiery Ethan Allen, they resisted New York's attempts to control Vermont lands through violence and intimidation.
When the American Revolution erupted, the seasoned Green Mountain Boys immediately joined the rebel cause.
Their knowledge of wilderness fighting, honed from years skirmishing with the British and New York settlers, made them invaluable scouts and rangers for the Continental Army. They launched daring raids like the capture of Fort Ticonderoga and helped win pivotal battles at Hubbardton and Bennington.
This ragtag band of Vermont frontiersmen played an outsized role in securing America's independence through their bravery, endurance, and pioneering spirit. The Green Mountain Boys became icons of the new nation's fight for freedom.
Raising the Flag of Revolution
Dawn's rosy fingers crept over the surrounding peaks as the contingent of men marched up the wooded slope of Mt. Defiance.
Their muffled footfalls and labored breathing pierced the crystalline silence of the May morning. Reaching the summit, Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold gazed down upon the imposing walls and neat lines of Fort Ticonderoga guarding Lake Champlain below.
The formidable British fort was an eagle's nest, with cannons bristling and ramparts manned by the enemy's alert sentries. Allen and Arnold knew those cannon would be a key strategic asset for the brewing Revolution. But how to wrest this fortress from the bearlike grip of British force?
As the sun crested the mountains, Allen bellowed to his motley band of Vermont farmers and woodsmen - the legendary Green Mountain Boys. Let every man descend upon the fort at once! His brazen audacity sparked their flinty courage. With a shout, they charged downhill and swarmed into the fort.
Rousing drunken British soldiers from their beds at musket-point, Ticonderoga was taken within minutes, without a drop of blood spilled.
The Green Mountain Boys hoisted Old Glory in triumph, thundering a volley from the fort's own cannon to salute the dawn of liberty.
Ambushing the Redcoats at Bennington
A year later, the war now raging, a large force of 1,000 British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries trudged through a driving rain towards Bennington, Vermont.
Their boots churned the road to mud as they marched to seize precious horse stables that would cripple the colonial supply lines. Colonel John Stark awaited them there with his band of 400 Green Mountain Boys, contention in their eyes.
As the lobster backs approached, noon's light dimmed to an eerie gloom with the storm clouds. Suddenly the staccato of musket fire crackled from the tree line bordering the road! Startled redcoats dove for cover, only to be enfiladed from the other side by Stark's expert marksmen. They returned volley after volley, their deadly aim honed from a lifetime haunting these Vermont woods.
Redcoats fell by the dozens as green-clad Vermont boys swarmed around their shattered flanks. The mercenaries broke ranks and fled from the colonials they had branded as cowardly.
A bold dash by the Boys captured the enemies' cannon, turning them back upon the British in a brutal rout. By sundown, the Green Mountain Boys had once more carried the day against staggering odds, their frontier cunning flummoxing rigid British tactics.
Winter Siege at Quebec
Ice choked the St. Lawrence River as 31 year-old Colonel Benedict Arnold led a grueling march through the frozen wilderness of Maine.
His hardy force, including Green Mountain Boys Ethan Allen and Roger Enos, slogged waist-deep through snowdrifts in frigid December. Their course was set for the cliffs of Quebec, the British stronghold in Canada.
After six weeks of relentless trudging north, hacking their trail through virgin forest, Arnold's frozen, starving troops finally gazed upon the imposing stone walls of Quebec on New Year's Eve. That night they gathered around flickering campfires, trying to boil snow for a meager broth. In the morning they would assault this unconquerable citadel.
At dawn, cannon fire echoed off the fortress as hundreds of American troops floundered through snow towards destiny. Musket balls and grapeshot ripped through their ranks. Scaling ladders crashed down from the ramparts, splintered and bloodied. The attack stalled at the base of the mighty walls.
The siege dragged on for months, the Americans half-frozen and wracked by smallpox in their crude encampments. But their iron-willed fortitude, a trait forged in the Vermont wilderness, stymied the British until reinforcements finally arrived in spring.
This climactic struggle broke the British hold on Canada, with Vermont men like Allen and Enos playing pivotal roles. Their long-honed resilience changed the course of history.
Time and again in the Revolution's darkest hours, when liberty's future seemed imperiled, the intrepid Green Mountain Boys rose to the challenge. At Ticonderoga, Bennington, Quebec, and countless wilderness skirmishes,
Vermont's frontiersmen proved indispensable. Their courage, tenacity and cunning helped wrest freedom from the mighty British Empire.
Their legendary exploits became etched into the story of America's birth, inspiring future generations to defend liberty against any odds.
- Bellesiles, M. A. (2010). Revolutionary outlaws: Ethan Allen and the struggle for independence on the early American frontier. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press.
- Bryan, F., & McClung, H. (2017). Freedom's seeds: The Green Mountain Boys and the American Revolution. Chester, CT: Globe Pequot Press.
- Callo, J. F. (2011). The November campaign: America’s forgotten crisis in Quebec and the birth of the United States Army. Yardley, PA: Westholme Publishing.
- Pell, J. H. (1929). Ethan Allen. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
- Vermont Historical Society. (n.d.). Green Mountain Boys. https://vermonthistory.org/explorer/green-mountain-boys