The Battle of Hubbardton 1777
War: American Revolutionary War
Date: 7th July 1777.
Place: New York State on the road south east from
Combatants: British and Americans
Generals: Brigadier Simon Fraser commanded the British,
Baron Riedesel commanded the Germans and Colonels Francis and Warner
commanded the Americans.
Size of the forces: About 1,000 British and German troops
against around 1,000 Americans.
Uniforms, arms and equipment:
The British wore red coats and headgear of bearskin caps,
leather caps or tricorne hats depending on whether the troops were
grenadiers, light infantry or battalion company men. The German
infantry wore blue coats and retained the Prussian style grenadier
mitre with brass front plate. The Americans dressed as best they
could. Increasingly as the war progressed regular infantry regiments
of the Continental Army wore blue uniform coats but the militia
continued in rough clothing. Both sides were armed with muskets and
Winner: The British and German troops.
24th Foot: Later the South Wales Borderers and now the Royal
Regiment of Wales.
Francis 11th Massachusetts
Hale’s 2nd New Hampshire Regiment
Warner’s Green Mountain Men from Vermont
General St Clair’s troops left Fort Ticonderoga on 6th July 1777
hastening to put as much ground between themselves and the pursuing
army of General Burgoyne in their retreat to the South. The weather
was hot and the march, along the rudimentary track through the
forest, was heavy going. After 26 miles the Americans reached
Hubbardton, a minute hamlet. St Clair marched on, leaving Colonel
Seth Warner and his Green Mountain Boys to await the rearguard of
Colonel Francis’ 11th Massachusetts and Hale’s 2nd New Hampshire
Once the rearguard reached Hubbardton, Francis and Hale decided to
camp overnight in the hamlet to allow their men to recover from the
rigours of the evacuation of Ticonderoga and the long march. They
assumed they had outstripped the British and German troops and put
out no proper picquet line.
In fact Brigadier Simon Fraser had pressed the pursuit and that
night camped near to Hubbardton. The British 24th Regiment with
British and Brunswick Grenadiers and Light Infantry resumed the
advance at 3am and coming upon the Americans as they breakfasted,
promptly attacked. The first Americans to be assaulted, Hale’s New
Hampshires, gave way in disorder. Warner’s and Francis’ Regiments
quickly formed up and resisted strongly. The fighting was intense
and Major Grant, commanding the 24th, was killed.
The Americans formed a line stretching through wooded country,
with hills on each flank. Fraser sent his grenadiers to climb the
hill to the American left and outflank them. The hill was steep and
the encircling move took longer than expected. In the meantime
Colonel Francis attacked advanced around Fraser’s left flank,
reinforced by some of Hale’s regiment who were returning to the
battlefield. Fraser, whose force was inferior in numbers to the
Americans, found himself in some difficulty.
The sound of the battle was heard by General St Clair, the
American commander, to the south. He ordered two militia regiments
to return and support Francis, but they refused.
Battle of Hubbardton
To the North-West Riedesel also heard the firing and came up in
support of Brigadier Fraser as quickly as he could. Riedesel sent
the Brunswick Jaegers ahead and as they came onto the battlefield
they attacked the American right flank. The firing was fierce. The
tide of the battle swung back in favour of the British, as the
grenadiers finally cleared the hill on the American left and Fraser
attacked their centre. Colonel Francis was killed and the American
line began to break up.
The battle ended with the capture of numbers of American soldiers
and 12 guns.
British and German casualties were 14 officers and 195 soldiers.
American casualties were 12 officers and 300 soldiers. As the
British held the field the American wounded were mostly captured.
The American retreat to the South continued with the British in
pursuit. The casualties were high in this battle for the number of
troops involved, reflecting the determination of the American
It is reported in Fortescue’s account of the battle that a party of
American soldiers approached the British line with their arms
reversed, a token that they intended to surrender. The British
withheld their fire. The Americans fired a volley, causing a
significant number of casualties, and withdrew. This sort of “ruse
de guerre” has been common in warfare. It seems unlikely that any
such incident would have happened on as large a scale as is
suggested by Fortescue.
- History of the British Army by Sir John Fortescue
- The War of the Revolution by Christopher Ward