238 YEARS OF HISTORY IN 298 KILOMETERS – 11 JULY 2015

What with Alex’s visit and our trips to Bromley, the 4th of July in Plymouth Notch, some planned adventures this coming week in Vermont, why would I be back in Vermont today you ask? Easy – the 238th anniversary of the Battle of Hubbardton fought on 7 July 1777. The only Revolutionary War battle fought in Vermont (of course you know the Battle of Bennington [VT] was really fought in New York!) this was the first event that eventually lead to the British defeat at Saratoga.

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I was last at the battlefield 24 August 2013, and you may wish to reread that post but the battle reenactment seemed a good reason to exercise BLUE BELLE. Do we need a good reason? NO!

We  pulled out of town shortly after 9 AM. Traveling through Chester, this 1858 General Store was open (usually closed when I pass through). Of course I stopped.

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and the interior. Original fixtures, but now mostly gift type items and a few select overpriced antiques.

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We (that is BB2 and I – albeit alone) arrived in remote Hubbardton (west of Rutland) about an hour and a half later. There is a super slab stretch of US4 heading west out of Rutland, and BB2 likes it when she can legally travel at 65-70 MPH.

We parked (I answered questions about my “ride” to inquisitive folks) and headed to the battlefield (parking was north of where you usually park due to the festivities). We walked south towards the visitor center.

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Note to self — check space on SD cards often. Along with my trusty Canon S95 I brought my Nikon D3100 for some close up (telephoto) uniform shots.  If your shutter will not work, you will discover that your SD card is full. Well, I put my D3100 back in BB2’s Boot – less to carry.

We first saw the Rebel troops mustering.

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I chatted with this Rebel for awhile. He portrayed an individual from Attleboro who was in the battle. I learned from him that a musket does not have rifling. That is the terminology difference, and you know that you never know which way a musket ball will go (since there is no rifling to stabilize it), thus the close firing range (50-80 yards) and shooting in volleys throwing lots of lead out.

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What is wrong with this camp fire?

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Usually at encampments I see nice blocks of turf dug out and set aside, and the fire low in the ground. Thus it does not spread, and the heat is concentrated. The fires here were on metal plates.  Well, it seems as though this battlefield (basically unchanged in 238 years) is now hallowed ground. At this time in history, bodies were often just left on the battlefield – that happened here. The family that owned the land returned 7 years later and found bones everywhere on their farm land. They gathered them, and buried them. As a result the entire area is considered sacred ground even though no bones have been found as yet. The State of Vermont started acquiring this land in the 1950s.

On the south side of the visitor center the British soldiers were camped for the weekend. They did remain, however, at the site for two days after the battle in 1777. Here arms are being inspected.

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The same view you would have seen 238 years ago. The split rail fence you see surrounds the site of the original farmhouse from 1777 when this was farmed just before the battle as the Americans were retreating from Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence followed by the British and Germans. Remember, most of the uniforms and clothing were wool – great for those 70 and 80 degree days.

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(Editorial Note (well this is all editorial notes) — how can you not be enamored by the views?) My video of the concert on July 5th has been my most watched video. Here is today’s Fife and Drum group:

And, I enjoy looking at the sutler’s wares:

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Today’s military actions were just showing 18th century maneuvers. Tomorrow morning will be the actual battle reenactment starting at 8 AM with the troops assembling and marching at 7 AM.  To see that, BB2 and I would have to leave shortly after 6 AM — THERE IS A LIMIT TO SHUNPIKING !!!

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I chatted with the owners of this brass cannon that was found in a house in Dorset 40-45 years ago. It is possible this is the 4th cannon (and the one “missing”) used at the Battle of Bennington. They are still researching it – what a treasure.

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Well, we had no plans after Hubbardton Battlefield, but BLUE BELLE was whining that I had never taken her to New York State – she said, “are you afraid of the Mann Act?”  I reminded her that: 1) we had crossed state lines before; and, 2) she was of age (don’t remind a lady of that — as we left the parking field she choked, and we coasted this time to a shady spot. I now know where to tap her – so I popped the bonnet, rapped on the Dashpots, and off we went).

BLUE BELLE applied her brakes to get this shot (even though spelled wrong)

BLUE BELLE applied her brakes to get this shot (even though spelled wrong)

 

 

To save you having to get your maps out, I have marked one up for you below. Not having seen the west side of Lake Bomoseen before, off we went. I hoped it would be nicer than the eastern shore, and with Victorian cottages. Yes it was nicer and we saw some.

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You can see my route (partially) into Rutland, out on Route 4 (65-70) up to the Battlefield, then around the lake down to Fair Haven, across the border to Whitehall, NY, and then back to Putney to pick up Route 140 (great road) back to VT 103 and home. Follow that?

Fairhaven I have to learn about – great 19th century brick buildings.

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Then we arrived in Whitehall – the Birthplace of the US Navy

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Lake Champlain ends here, and the Champlain Canal begins, connecting the lake to the Hudson River.

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I chatted for awhile with a local resident, and then with the owner of these Clydsedales – I spent a half hour learning about these uncommon black Clydesdales (only about 255 in the states) and horse behavior, horse shoe replacement (nailed into what would be finger/toe nails) and the frequency, types of horses the Amish prefer, and on and on.  I love having no schedule and just visiting with strangers. He was here to later give rides before the fireworks.

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Driving into town, for the first time I saw Skene Manor high up above town. The local resident said there were tours, so once all my conversations were done I headed up the mountain. I got there at 4:20, and should have gone there on the way into town first – it is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 4 – next time.

Skene Manor, Whitehall, NH

Skene Manor, Whitehall, NH

And, looking back from the front door to Whitehall and the Champlain Canal.

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Well (back to the map above) back east on Route 4, south on 22A, cut over to Poultney, VT to pick up 140.  I love 140 (check out that last trip in 2013) and to 103 and home. Wanted to eat out, but nothing appealed to me, and I had one leftover meal waiting for me at home.

I arrived home having experienced 238 Years of History in 298 Kilometers (185 miles). Checking my garden I made my first harvest.

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Let me see, $36 plus for plants divided by one summer squash and two cherry tomatoes. Average $12 each. A start, can’t wait to be down to 12 cents each.

RAY RECOMMENDS – A day trip to Hubbardton Battlefield and environs. So close, but so far back in time.

and, RAY RECOMMENDS – “like” Vermont State Historic Sites on Facebook. That way you can plan you next adventure at one of these great venues.

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3 Responses to 238 YEARS OF HISTORY IN 298 KILOMETERS – 11 JULY 2015

  1. Jim says:

    Fascinating tour — as always, Ray. Thanks! Who would ever have thought the USN had its start on Lake Champlain???! Interesting about that Redcoat in one of the photos wearing dark glasses, but I’d imagine even then that eyeglass wearers could ‘smoke’ the glass to cut down on the glare.
    And I’m sure that Blue Belle’s engine turned over a wee bit faster when Blue Bell( ) Lane hove into view!

  2. JUANITA Sweet says:

    LOVE the post Ray. Wayne and I seriously considering heading to Hubberton when they have their next reenactment. Juanita

  3. Betty says:

    Love the tour, Ray! The canal reminds me of the canals along the Great Lakes. And if there are Clydesdales, where is the beer? …you know us and our frequent stops 🙂

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