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This work takes us beneath the veneer of the famous “Green Mountain Boys” to reveal the true story of how a hardened, quasi-commando army happened to be present in America’s northern colonies at the start of the Revolution.
Under their first dynamic commander, Ethan Allen, the Green Mountain Boys indeed formed and fought against a larger, oppressive power—this was the Colony of New York, which repeatedly tried to make claim to Vermont land. Meantime Vermont itself was termed the“Hampshire Grants,” and was considered to be a part of that similarly nebulous New England territory.
The Vermonters would have little of it, however, even as British Canada also extended its covetous eye, and under Ethan Allen formed their own militia to combat encroachers from either side. Allen was not an innocent in the mix, and had his own agenda, including financial or landowning ones. But the spirit he and his men showed in defense of their isolated mountains has come to epitomize America’s own spirit of independence against any untoward or unwanted regime.
When the Revolution against Britain arrived, the Green Mountain Boys were one of the few organized, experienced combat units Washington could call on from the northeast. And they were immediately put to good use, seizing the British fortress at Ticonderoga and afterward helping to invade Canada. But in mid-1777 was declared the“Republic of Vermont,” sending a signal to all comers that those rustic fighters didn’t wish to be governed by anyone except themselves.
Nevertheless, at the Battle of Hubbardton, and then Bennington, the Green Mountain Boys performed good service on behalf of the United Colonies. Eventually the Vermonters would be persuaded to join the new nation itself, even if, as this fascinating book proves, they never considered that path such an easy one.