First Hand Account

Amos Churchhill 1859I am Amos Churchill, 85 years of age and today, July 7, 1859, is very special. The people of Hubbardton and nearby towns are dedicating a dignified marble monument to honor the only Revolutionary War battle fought in Vermont.  I have been asked to sit on the platform at the dedication ceremony and say a few words about the battle. This monument cost $500, and it was my privilege to subscribe $100 to help cover its costs.    

In 1777 I was three years old.  My grandparents Samuel and Thankful Churchill and some of their children were among the first nine families who settled the town of Hubbardton.  Their son Joseph, my father, moved us to Hubbardton from Sheffield, Massachusetts, in 1783, right after the war.  My grandparents and uncles told me many stories about the early days.  Especially in the fall of 1776, they saw many American soldiers.  An  American general, Horatio Gates, had ordered a road be built through here to reach Mount Independence, the new American fortification on Lake Champlain 25 miles to the northwest.     

Grandfather worried about the war, but he wanted to give his big family a good life in Hubbardton, where there was more opportunity than in Massachusetts.  In June 1777 more soldiers were heading to Mount Independence, telling my grandfather that the British, led by a general named John Burgoyne, were coming on the lake from Canada and to be prepared for something big to happen. They did not know if there were enough American soldiers to stop the British, but they would do their best.    

Then all day on July 6, 1777, American soldiers came south as fast as they could on the military road. They had with them whatever they could carry from Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga.  They had worked hard to build the new fortification, but since the British outnumbered them the officers decided the best strategy was to leave and fight later under better circumstances.  The soldiers were surprised to be woken up in the night and ordered to leave immediately.  They were greatly fatigued upon their arrival in Hubbardton. The leader, Lt. Gen. Arthur St. Clair, pushed the main army further south to Castleton, and ordered over 1,000 soldiers to guard the rear.  
It was getting light the morning of July 7 when Col. Seth Warner sent a detachment of soldiers to warn Grandfather and other townspeople of the danger.  Grandfather gathered his family and headed toward Castleton.  Two uncles stayed to fight.  Before the rest got to Castleton, it appeared the battle was over and they went back to their cabin.  Shortly after, a party of Tories and their Indian allies came through, tied Grandfather to a tree and threatened to burn him because he said he had no flour to give them.  Their leader, Justus Sherwood, decided to spare him, and brought Grandfather, my uncles, and other Hubbardton men as prisoners to Ticonderoga.  They were able to escape and Grandfather later found the rest of his family in Sheffield, Massachusetts, where my parents and I were living.   

Grandmother had guided all the women and children in the family back to Sheffield with only two horses, going across Vermont to Fort No. 4 in what we now call Charlestown, New Hampshire, and then southwest, over more mountains to avoid the British. It was 350 miles.  The British made her angry. They had wounded her horse when the family were fleeing from the battle, and she exclaimed: "I wish I had a gun, I would give them what they want."

In the fall of 1777, after Grandfather learned that the British under Burgoyne surrendered to the Americans, he brought his family to Castleton while he and my uncles rebuilt their home on the farm in Hubbardton. This was the first wood frame house in Hubbardton.  After the war, he told us the Battle of Hubbardton turned out to be the only one in the  Revolution fought in Vermont.  When I was little I thought my family was very brave, and when I grew up I appreciated that this battle was important in the American Revolution and fight for our independence. 

In 1856, I joined 40 other men from Rutland County to form the Hubbardton Battle Monument Association "for the purpose of erecting and maintaining a suitable monument" to commemorate our patriot soldiers.  On this dedication day, July 7, 1859, even though it is as hot as the day of the original battle, almost 5,000 people have come to show their respect.  Dignitaries have spoken about the battle, the Rutland and Brandon bands provided music, and a Brandon military unit gave us a lively battle recreation.  It is the fervent hope of all assembled here that this will be an enduring monument, showing that a grateful posterity knows how to honor the memory of its historic ancestors.