Green Mountain Boys

Green Mountain Boys

Green Mountain Boys, popular name of armed bands formed (c.1770) under the auspices of Ethan Allen in the Green Mountains of what is today Vermont. Their purpose was to prevent the New Hampshire Grants, as Vermont was then known, from becoming part of New York, to which it had been awarded by the British. Land speculators, such as Allen and his brothers, and settlers banded together in armed groups to defend their lands. Their methods were threat, intimidation, and actual violence against the New Yorkers, and they managed to keep the region free from New York control, establishing (1777) instead a separate government that ultimately achieved (1791) statehood for Vermont. In the American Revolution the Green Mountain Boys figured prominently in 1775, when, under Allen's leadership, they captured Ticonderoga. In 1777 Seth Warner and John Stark led them to victory at Bennington—one of the notable achievements of the revolutionaries in the Saratoga campaign.

The Green Mountain Boys were historically, the militia of the Vermont Republic. Today it is the informal name of the Vermont National Guard which comprises the Vermont Army and Air National Guard.

Historical unit

The original Green Mountain Boys were paramilitary infantry organized in 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, what 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 Grants 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 been 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.

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 important military posts at Fort Ticonderoga, Fort Crown Point, Fort Ann, and the town of St. John (Battle of Fort St. Jean) in Québec. The Green Mountain Boys later formed the basis of the Vermont militia which 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 attack on 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 Canada 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.



A remnant of a Green Mountain Boys flag, believed to belong to John Stark, is owned by the Bennington Museum. It is one of the few regimental flags from the American Revolution that still exists. 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 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, this despite the inclusion of women in both branches since the mid-twentieth century. Both units also use the original Green Mountain Boys battle flag as their banner.

See also


  • Allen, Ira (1969). The natural and political history of the State of Vermont, one of the United States of America. Charles E. Tuttle Company.
  • Cooper, Grace Rogers (1973). Thirteen Star Flags. Smithsonian Institution Press. Available online (21.7 MB).
  • Van de Water, Frederic Franklyn (1974). The Reluctant Republic: Vermont 1724–1791. The Countryman Press.

External links

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