The Green Mountain Boys

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The Green Mountain Boys were a short-lived yet influential militia organization that played a large part in the defense of what is now Vermont in colonial America.

Ethan Allen is the most well-known member of the group, which also contained several members of Allen’s extended family. The group took its name from the area’s Green Mountains.

The group formed in the 1760s and operated in the New Hampshire Grants, a territory between New York and New Hampshire. An early success for the group was protecting the Grants’ independence from New York colonists who wanted to run the land for themselves and had the blessing of the British Crown. The Green Mountain Boys, however, effectively policed the Grants and kept out New York influence. Some of these conflicts turned violent.

Under Allen’s leadership, the Green Mountain Boys made a name for themselves during the Revolutionary War. On May 10, 1775, the militia, along with forces commanded by Benedict Arnold, seized control of Fort Ticonderoga, a place and fortress of great strategic importance. Situated on Lake Champlain, the fort provided its occupants with a commanding view of the surrounding area.

The Green Mountain Boys also captured a British fort at Crown Point, also in the Lake Champlain area.

Later in 1775, Allen and several members of the Green Mountain Boys joined Arnold in an attempt to seize Montreal; the invasion failed, and the invaders were captured by the British.

The militia disbanded the following year, and many of its members fought on as part of the Green Mountain Continental Rangers, under the command of Seth Warner. (By that time, Allen had been appointed lieutenant colonel in the Northern Army of New York.) The Rangers fought in the Battle of Hubbardton and the Battle of Bennington, both in 1777. Two years later, the Rangers disbanded.

Among the members of Ethan Allen’s extended family to serve alongside Allen with the Green Mountain Boys were his brother Ira, his cousin Ebenezer, his cousin Remember Baker, and Warner, who was also a cousin of Allen.

Vermont became a state in 1791, and subsequent forces from that state adopted the name Green Mountain Boys, notably in the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. The name lives on today as an informal name for the state’s National Guard (even though women have served in the state’s military groups for many years).

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