Corporal Ebenezer Barton of Windham was a witness to General John Burgoyne’s surrender at the Battle of Saratoga.

In November of 1776, Capt. Richard Mayberry of Windham put out the call for local men who would step forth and join him in the fight for American freedom by enlisting in the Continental Army. Ten men immediately responded and the Windham Company, as they were known, was born.

They would become part of Company 5 in Col. Benjamin Tupper’s 11th regiment under the command of Gen. Horatio Gates, and they would follow him into one of the war’s most famous military campaigns.

The company was made up of Capt. Mayberry, Sgt. Josiah Chute (the grandson of town father Thomas Chute), Cpl. Ebenezer Barton and Privates James Jordon, William Mayberry, Robert Millions, John Swett, Peter Smith, Thomas Chute, David Mayberry and Benjamin Trott.

Sgt. Chute was wounded in the Battle of Hubbardton, the only battle fought in Vermont during the Revolution. He was hit in the shoulder by an enemy musket ball, but his injury did not stop him from rejoining others in the Windham Company who were now a part of the Saratoga Campaign.

This campaign began after the failed Battle of Quebec earlier in the year that left the Continental forces, beaten and sick, in retreat. The British hoped this defeat would quell the rebellion by isolating New England from the rest of the colonies by taking upstate New York and control of the Hudson River.

In the spring of 1777, the British ordered three of their armies to merge in Albany, New York. The trip was long and arduous, and by September, only one army, under the leadership of Gen. John Burgoyne, was close to their destination. Waiting for them outside of Saratoga, New York, was the Northern department of the Continental Army, which included the Windham Company, under Gates’ command.

The two armies clashed for the first time at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, known as the First Battle of Saratoga. The fighting was fierce and closely fought until Burgoyne ordered a column of German troops to support the British lines, which forced the Americans to pull back. Though the Continental troops were held at bay, the British suffered twice as many casualties as their American counterparts, and Burgoyne decided to stay put and rest his troops while they waited for reinforcements. In the meantime, Gates’ American troops were steadily increasing.

On Oct. 7, the British general realized reinforcements would not arrive. He sent a force to attack the American left flank in Bemis Heights, south of Saratoga. The Americans got wind of the plan and the British were forced to withdraw. Burgoyne was anxious to take his army north to safety, but cold rains and below-average temperatures were slowing down the retreat.

Gates took advantage of the situation. His soldiers surrounded the British troops with the help of Col. Thaddeus Kosciusko, a Polish engineer who built strong field reinforcements on Bemis Heights. Out of supplies and options, Burgoyne surrendered his army on Oct. 17 after the Second Battle of Saratoga. Cpl. Ebenezer Barton of Windham was one of the soldiers who was a witness to Burgoyne’s surrender.

This important battle proved to be a significant turning point in the Revolutionary War. In addition to giving the American army a major boost in morale, it helped persuade the French, Spanish and Dutch to become American allies. With France’s naval support, the Continental Army would go on to win the Battle of Yorktown that led to the end of the Revolution. We should all be proud that the town of Windham’s freedom fighters were among those who fought so bravely for the Saratoga victory and helped to forge the way to liberty and American independence.

Haley Pal is a Windham resident and an active member of the Windham Historical Society. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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