Revolutionary War Sesquicentennial 

US #643 was issued in Bennington, Vermont, though the battle took place in Bennington, New York.

On August 3, 1927, the US Post Office issued two stamps honoring significant events from the Revolutionary War in 1777.

One of the stamps is the Vermont Sesquicentennial stamp.  The stamp honors the Battle of Bennington and pictures a Green Mountain Boy.  The other stamp honors the Saratoga Campaign and pictures the surrender of General Burgoyne.  It also honors the Battle of Bennington, with an inscription on the right-hand side.

Although US #644 is called the “Burgoyne Campaign,” it commemorates several different events. In fact, General John Burgoyne isn’t the central character in the stamp and it wasn’t originally intended to honor him, as he was a British general fighting against America. The stamp pictures Burgoyne (left of center) handing his sword to General Horatio Gates of the Continental Army. The stamp image is based on John Trumbull’s 1821 painting Surrender of General Burgoyne.

US #644 was issued in Rome, NY, just a few miles down the road from Mystic’s home in Camden.

The history behind the stamps…

Known as Gentleman Johnny, General Burgoyne first arrived in Quebec in May 1777, planning to take control of New York’s Hudson River and Mohawk Valley. Commanding about 7,700 British troops, Indians, Germans, and American loyalists to Britain, Burgoyne captured Fort Ticonderoga. But he was slowed to only one mile a day by his excessive baggage train and the American forces who had cut down trees to slow his progress.

US #1722 pictures an injured general Herkimer directing his troops at the Battle of Oriskany.

The Battles of Fort Stanwix and Oriskany

On August 3, British lieutenant colonel Barry St. Leger began an attack on Fort Stanwix, located in present-day Rome, New York. As the fort’s 750 men defended themselves, a group of 800 soldiers from Fort Dayton began a 30-mile trek to provide support. However, St. Ledger knew they were coming and planned an ambush on them six miles from Fort Stanwix in Oriskany.

US #643 – Uncacheted First Day Cover.

Although St. Ledger’s Indian forces eventually retreated, about 200 Colonists were killed, 50 wounded, and their leader, General Nicholas Herkimer, was mortally wounded. With Herkimer’s men in no shape to relieve Fort Stanwix, Benedict Arnold put together a force of 1,000 men to come to their aid. In the meantime, the Indians rioted against the British, forcing St. Ledger to retreat to Oswego, leaving no one to meet Burgoyne at Albany.

US #1348 – This flag was reportedly carried by the Green Mountain Boys at the Battle of Bennington.

The Battle of Bennington

In the meantime, Burgoyne and his men were critically low on supplies. Knowing the Continental Army stored weapons and supplies at Bennington, New York, (present-day Walloomsac) Burgoyne sent a raid. They were surprised to find more than 1,600 soldiers from New Hampshire and Vermont protecting the supplies. More than 200 British soldiers were killed with another 700 taken prisoner.  (While the Battle of Bennington didn’t take place in Vermont, it was fought by Vermont soldiers just west of the Vermont border.)

US #1728 was also based on John Trumbull’s painting of Burgoyne’s surrender.

Surrender at Saratoga

Burgoyne continued to move toward Albany, losing another 600 men at Freeman’s Farm on September 19, 1777. Less than a month later, Benedict Arnold led another successful campaign against Burgoyne at Bemis Heights, taking the lives of 600 more British soldiers.  As his forces grew smaller and weaker, Burgoyne finally retreated north to Saratoga but was surrounded by American forces outnumbering him three to one. By October 17, he surrendered.

US #644 – Uncacheted First Day Cover.

The victories at these New York locations not only kept the British from taking control of New York, but they showed the doubtful French that the Colonists were capable of winning the war for their freedom. Shortly after Burgoyne’s surrender, the French joined the American cause and helped win the war.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. Great material. As I understand, Common Core doesn’t teach American history that far back. Kids need to know.

    1. They don’t teach the US Constitution either. We need a K-12 curriculum based on our country’s founding and establishment of “the rule of law”.

      1. “They don’t teach the Constitution”?…That’s just nutty. Of course we teach the Constitution. In our local middle school, the students need to pass a Constitution test in order to receive a promotion certificate.

    2. The age of exploration, colonial history, and the American Revolution/War for Independence are taught in middle school in California. That’s a lot to cover in one school year, but we try.

  2. I taught 8th grade SS and ALWAYS made it a point to go over the most significant battles
    of the Revolutionary War. The plan to cut NY in half, thus separating New England from the
    rest of the Colonies was based on a three pronged attack, Burgoyne coming down from Canada,
    St,Leger coming from the west and Howe coming up the Hudson from NY to Albany, where they were supposed to meet up and destroy the Continental Army and Militias thus cutting New england off from the rest of the Colonies. St. Leger never got to Albany because of the fights
    he had along the way. Howe left NY far to late and this left Burgoyne to wither on the vine.
    He did not have enough troops to carry out the mission alone.

  3. History, like a intersection accident, can be viewed from many angles. The same is true of these battles listed above. In the Battle of Ft. Stanwix/Oriskany, it is true that many Indians revolted because their camp was raided (by the rebels) while they were assisting the British but Benedict Arnold had coerced a Tory Indian scout to go to St. Leger and over state the size of his approaching army. St. Leger, because his force was reduced, took the bait and retired. In the Battle of Bennington, Vermont did not exist. It was called the New Hampshire Grants. It was Gen John Stark and his 1st NH Regiment that encountered and destroyed Col Baum’s (German mercenary) Army. Seth Warner, Green Mountain Boy was there but his men, scattered when Ft Ticonderoga fell, didn’t join him until the second part of that battle when the second German element arrived to support the first. At the Battle of Bemis Heights (Saratoga) Gentleman Johnnie stretched his supply line too thin. He was in the field twice as long as he had originally planned. With St. Leger out and Howe never planning to support this operation, Burgoyne was overextended. Horatio Gates was not an offensive battle general. The battle of Camden, S.C. proved it. He had relieved Benedict Arnold of his command. After sulking in his cabin and spurred on by spirits, Arnold took the field and took charge. It is true that his actions went a long way in results turning in favor of the continentals. British General Clinton did come as far up the Hudson as Stoney Point but no further. The threat of an opposing army at his back, may have caused Gates to give in to all of Burgoyne’s surrender demands. Thus goes the history. I love it, my ancestors were part of it, but I don’t teach it.

    1. My wife and I visited the Saratoga battlefield many years ago. This was especially interesting to me because I taught U.S. History at the high school level. We were wandering around when I called my wife over to see a certain stone monument. I pointed out that the stone depicted a boot, and the inscription said something about a hero in the battle but, curiously, neglected to mention the soldier’s name. She said that the brochure that we carried explained that the “boot monument” was placed to commemorate the timely actions of Benedict Arnold in helping to secure the American victory, but because of his later treason to the American cause, his name was intentionally left out. His leg had been seriously injured in the battle (I think it was his left leg), and it is said that though the man became a traitor, his leg was a hero.

  4. I wish Mystic Stamps offered short histories, along with stamps commemorating events, like those above. To get kids “hooked” on history, as well as giving them an interesting and fairly easy way to present to their classes. I, for one would buy such gifts for my great-nephews. Stamps, a few pictures, and an historical analysis – so many students today have no idea of how interesing and IMPORTANT our country’s history is.

  5. Born in New Jersey, raised on Long Island, New York 74 years ago , I always enjoyed New York’s history. This squib is really great.
    Thanks for the ride.

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