Bennington is a town in Bennington County, Vermont, United States. It is one of two shire towns (county seats) of the county, the other being Manchester. The population was 15,764 at the 2010 census. By population, Bennington is the largest town in southern Vermont, the third-largest town in Vermont (after Essex and Colchester), and the sixth-largest municipality in the state (after Burlington, Essex, Rutland, Colchester, and South Burlington).
Bennington is home to the Bennington Battle Monument, which is the tallest human-made structure in the state of Vermont. The town has ready access to natural resources and waterpower, and a long history of manufacture, primarily within wood processing. The town is also recognized nationally for its pottery, iron, and textiles.
First of the New Hampshire grants, Bennington was chartered on January 3, 1749 by Colonial Governor Benning Wentworth and named in his honor. It was granted to William Williams and 61 others, mostly from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The town was first settled in 1761 by four families from Hardwick and two from Amherst, Massachusetts. They were led by Capt. Samuel Robinson, who camped in the river valley on his return from the French and Indian War.
There are three historic districts within the town today: Old Bennington, Downtown Bennington and North Bennington. Of these, Old Bennington is the original settlement, dating back to 1761 when Congregational Separatists arrived from Connecticut and from Amherst and Hardwick, Massachusetts. In the early 1800s, Downtown Bennington started developing, and by 1854 the county’s population had reached 18,589.
Battle of Bennington
The town is known in particular for the Battle of Bennington, which took place during the Revolutionary War. Although the battle took place approximately 12 miles to the west in what is now the state of New York, an ammunition storage building located in Bennington was an important strategic target. On August 16, 1777, Gen. John Stark’s 1,500-strong New Hampshire Militia defeated 800 German (Hessian) mercenaries, local Loyalists, Canadians and Indians under the command of German Lt. Col. Friedrich Baum. German reinforcements under the command of Lt. Col. Heinrich von Breymann looked set to reverse the outcome, but were prevented by the arrival of Seth Warner’s Green Mountain Boys, the Vermont militia founded by Ethan Allen. In 1891, the Bennington Battle Monument was opened. The monument is a high stone obelisk that is the tallest human-made structure in Vermont. It is a popular tourist attraction.