The Green Mountain Boys were a militia organization first established in the 1760s in the territory between the British provinces of New York and New Hampshire, known as the New Hampshire Grants. Headed by Ethan Allen and members of his extended family, they were instrumental in resisting New York's attempts to control the territory, over which it had won control in a territorial dispute with New Hampshire. When these disputes led to the formation of the Vermont Republic in 1777, the Boys became the new republic's militia. Some companies served in the American Revolutionary War, including most notably the 1775 Capture of Fort Ticonderoga and later invasion of Quebec, and battles at Hubbardton and Bennington in 1777.
Following Vermont's admission to the Union in 1791, the original organization died away. Militia forces under this name were mustered during the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. Today it is the informal name of the Vermont National Guard which comprises the Vermont Army and Air National Guards.
The original Green Mountain Boys were a paramilitary militia organized in what is now southwestern Vermont in the decade prior to the American Revolutionary War. They comprised settlers and land speculators who held New Hampshire titles to lands between the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain, an area then known as the New Hampshire Grants, that is now modern Vermont. New York was given control of the area by a decision of the British crown and refused to respect the New Hampshire titles and town charters. Although a few towns with New York land titles, notably Brattleboro on the Connecticut River, supported the government in Albany, the vast majority of the settlers in the sparsely populated frontier region rejected the authority of New York.
With several hundred members, the Green Mountain Boys effectively controlled the area where New Hampshire grants had issued. They were led by Ethan Allen, his brother Ira Allen, and their cousins Seth Warner and Remember Baker. They were based at the Catamount Tavern in Bennington, only a short distance from the New York seat of government in Albany. By the 1770s, the Green Mountain Boys had become an armed military force and de facto government that prevented the Albany government from exercising its authority in the northeast portion of the Province of New York. New York authorities had standing warrants for the arrests of the leaders of the rebellious Vermonters, but were unable to exercise them. New York surveyors and other officials attempting to exercise their authority were prevented from doing so and in some cases were severely beaten, and settlers arriving to clear and work land under New York-issued grants were forced off their land, and sometimes had their possessions destroyed.
When the American Revolutionary War started in 1775, Ethan Allen and a force of his guerrillas, along with Massachusetts Colonel Benedict Arnold, marched up to Lake Champlain and captured the strategically important military post at Fort Ticonderoga, Fort Crown Point, and Fort George. The Boys also briefly held St. John's in Québec, but retreated on word of arriving British regulars. The Green Mountain Boys later formed the basis of the Vermont militia that selected Seth Warner as its leader. Some of the Green Mountain Boys preferred to stick with Ethan Allen and were captured along with Allen in August 1775 in a bungled attempt to capture the city of Montreal. A member of this unit was Congressman Matthew Lyon.
Vermont eventually declared itself an independent nation in January 1777, and organized a government based in Windsor. The army of the Vermont Republic was based upon the Green Mountain Boys. Although Vermont initially supported the American Revolutionary War and sent troops to fight John Burgoyne's British invasion from Quebec in battles at Hubbardton and Bennington in 1777, Vermont eventually adopted a more neutral stance and became a haven for deserters from both the British and colonial armies. George Washington, who had more than sufficient difficulties with the British, brushed off Congressional demands that he subdue Vermont. The Vermont Army version of the Green Mountain Boys faded away after Vermont joined the United States as the 14th U.S. state in 1791. They returned for the War of 1812, the Civil War, and later more formally as the Vermont National Guard.
- Ethan Allen – militia leader (general)
- Seth Warner – militia leader (colonel)
- Ira Allen – militia leader, and the founder of The University of Vermont
- Remember Baker – militia member (captain)
- Ebenezer Allen – militia member (lieutenant)
- Matthew Lyon – militia member (second lieutenant), and future congressman
- Thomas Rowley – militia member and spokesman, known as the “Bard of the Green Mountains” who “Set the Hills on Fire”
A remnant of a Green Mountain Boys flag, believed to belong to John Stark, is owned by the Bennington Museum. It still exists as one of the few regimental flags from the American Revolution. Although Stark was at the Battle of Bennington and likely flew this flag, the battle has become more commonly associated with the Bennington flag, which is believed to be a 19th century banner.
Vermont National GuardEdit
- Main article: Vermont National Guard
Today, the Vermont National Guard, composed of the Vermont Army National Guard and Vermont Air National Guard are collectively known as the Green Mountain Boys, even though women have served in both branches since the mid-twentieth century. Both units use the original Green Mountain Boys battle flag as their banner.
- Allen, Ira (1969) . The natural and political history of the State of Vermont, one of the United States of America. Charles E. Tuttle Company. ISBN 0-8048-0419-2.
- Cooper, Grace Rogers Thirteen Star Flags. Smithsonian Institution Press. 1973. Available online (21.7 MB).
- Van de Water, Frederic Franklyn (1974). The Reluctant Republic: Vermont 1724–1791. The Countryman Press. ISBN 0-914378-02-3.
- ↑ Cooper, 30