New York's Bennington Battlefield Grows by 23 Acres, Just in Time for the 245th Anniversary of the Battle
Colleen Cheslak, 202-367-1861 x7234
(Hoosick Falls, N.Y.) — Thanks to the power of collaboration, the American Battlefield Trust and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation were able to join forces to see Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site grow by 23 acres this summer, just in time for commemoration of the engagement’s 245th anniversary. At this Rensselaer County site, Patriots under General John Stark defeated Crown forces led by Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum on August 16, 1777, as part of the Northern Campaign that culminated at Saratoga. Acquired by the battlefield preservation nonprofit in the summer of 2020, the 23-acre property was transferred to the state this summer, following the completion of a landscape restoration project, which opens the door to new interpretive and recreational possibilities at the state park site.
“The Trust functions best when we are able to provide support to battlefield sites where preservation threats are present, making use of a nationwide preservation network,” said Trust President David Duncan. “At Bennington, we established a relationship early on with state park staff, just as the Trust was beginning its dive into the preservation of Revolutionary War battlefields. So, when a preservation opportunity arose, our friends in New York alerted us and we are so glad they did!”
With a notable impact on the trajectory of the American Revolution, Bennington is defined as a “Class A” battlefield in the National Park Service’s Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the U.S. During the first engagement of the Battle of Bennington, the 23-acre property — considered core battlefield land — served as part of the location where Crown forces retreated to and surrendered, evidenced by artifacts found on adjacent, state-owned battlefield land. The land even held the key to the complete preservation of the battlefield’s surrender site.
Despite undeniable historic value, the opportunity came with challenges. Notified in January of 2019, the Trust learned that the 23-acre property had recently been sold at a tax sale and proceeded to engage in conversation with the owner, who was initially reluctant to sell. But the nonprofit remained committed to the prospect of preservation and a deal was struck in late 2019 — with the condition that the owner must remove the single-family structure on the property. The following summer, the Trust officially acquired the historic acreage.
Additional steps were necessary to fully prepare the site for its fateful transfer to New York State. While the past owner had cleared the bulk of the modern building, the Trust pursued further clean-up. In June of 2022, the process was completed with the 23-acre tract’s transfer to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
“We are pleased to incorporate this property into Bennington Battlefield State Historic Site. It will allow us to protect both the archaeological record of the battle and the historic landscape for future generations,” said Historic Site Assistant David Pitlyk. “It has strong historical importance which we look forward to interpreting. Its significance is matched by its beauty — the tract expands our property along the scenic Walloomsac.”
To date, the Trust’s preservation activities in New York total just over 300 acres of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields, including properties at Saratoga and Sackets Harbor. This number is set to expand as the organization pursues its goal to preserve 2,500 acres of Revolutionary War battlefield land for the 250th anniversary of America’s founding conflict.
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 55,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.