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RELATIVE TO THE FOUR BRASS CANNON TAKEN FROM
THE BRITISH AT BENNINGTON.
(REFERRED TO ON PAGE 38 OF THE JOURNAL.]
Middlebury, Jan. 21, 1845. Hon. WM. WILKINS,
Secretary of War :
Sir :-By a Resolution of the General Assembly of Vermont, at its late session, it is made my duty to request of the General Government the delivery to this State of the four brass cannon taken by the “Green Mountain Boys” from the British at Bennington, on the 16th of August, 1777. Their possession is desired for the purpose of their being permanently deposited in the State House as a memorial of the valor of the Green Mountain Boys, in the memorable engagement referred to; and I cannot doubt that it will give to the Executive of the United States great pleasure to comply with a request dictated by a desire to honor the memory and cherish the spirit of such
I am not entirely advised whether all the cannon alluded to are in the possession of the General Government.-Some of them I think I have seen in the Arsenal at Washington, with engravings indicating that they were taken at Bennington, and I am informed that there is, probably, one or more of them in the Arsenal at Watervliet, in the State of New
Will you have the goodness to cause inquiry to be made in regard to the cannon referred to, and to respond to this communication at your earliest convenience.
I have received a communication from the Ordnance Office, advising me that the quota of arms that will be due in the year 1845 to the State of Vermont, will amount to about 200 muskets, and asking me to desig
nate the kind of arms which will be wanted, and whether, if it be field Artillery, the appropriate equipments, harness, &c., will be required. Before making reply to this inquiry I desire to ascertain whether, in case any of the cannon requested can be found, the carriages necessary for their mounting, together with the equipments, harness, &c., would be furnished in lieu of an equivaleut value of the arms due this State ; and if so, to what portion of the 200 muskets they would be equivalent.
I have the honor, &c.,
February 20, 1845.
Excellency's letter of the 21st ultimo, reporting the substance of a resolution of the General Assembly of Vermont, in relation to “brass cannon taken by the Green Mountain Boys' from the British at Bennington on the J6th of Aug. 1777."
Should the guns referred to be found in the possession of the Ordnance Corps, they are among the other trophies of the War of the Rev. .olution, and are held as public property of the United States. It would not be deemed proper for this Department to have them delivered as your Excellency suggests, as part of the arms provided by existing laws for arming the militia. But as the General Assembly indicate a wish to have the cannon captured at Bennington placed in the State House of Vermont, it is respectfully suggested that the application should be made to Congress—who, it is believed, have, during the present session, entertained a proposition for selecting some place of deposite for Revolutionary trophies.
Secretary of War. His Ex'y Wm. SLADE,
Governor of Vermont.
STATE OF VERMONT, Executive DEPARTMENT,
April 22, 1845.
Secretary of War:
A resolution was passed by the Legislature of this State, at its last session, directing me to request of the General Government the delivery of the caanon taken by the “Green Mountain Boys" at Benningion, in the year 1777, to be deposited in the State House of this State. In compliance with that instruction, I addressed a letter to the Secretary of War on the 21st of January last, to which I received a reply declining the delivery, and suggesting an application for them to Congress.
In that reply the Secretary said-—-" It would not be deemed proper for this Department to have them delivered as your Excellency sugo
gests, as part of the arms provided by existing laws for arming the militia." I deern it due to myself to correct a misapprehension into which the Secretary seems to have fallen. I did not request that the cannon should be delivered to Vermont as part of the arms provided for arming the militia. After making the request, I suggested the inquiry “ whether, in case any of the cannon requested can be found, the carriages necessary for their mounting, together with the equipments, har: ness, &c., would be furnished in lieu of an equivalent value of the arms due this State.” Vermont, I need hardly say, could not consent to ask for the possession of those trophies of “Green Mountain" valor, upon any such ground as the reply to my letter supposes me to have assumed, but feels that she has a strong claim to them upon the ground of the agency of the Green Mountain Boys in their capturemas honorable to them, as it was signally instrumental in turning the tide of war, at one of the most critical periods of he Revolution.
As preliminary to an application to Congress, which seems to have become necessary, unless you should reconsider your predecessor's decision, I have to request that you will do me the favor to cause inquiry to be made, as soon as practicable, for the purpose of ascertaining the number of cannon taken at Bennington, now in the possession of the United States, and their present location, and that the result of such inquiry may be communicated to me.
They may all, I believe, be readily identified by an engraving on each, indicating their capture on the 16th of August, 1777.
I have the honor, &c., &c.,
May 8, 1845.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency's letter of the 22d ultimo. It would afford me great pleasure, if consistent with my public duty, to promote the views of the Legislature of Vermont, and the wishes of your Excellency.
I transmit herewith a report of the Officer in charge of the Ordnance Bureau of this Department, by which it will be seen that the two brass cannon captured at Bennington on the 16th of August, 1777, are safely preserved, as well as other trophies of the Revolution.
It is believed the Executive has no authority to dispose of any trophies which are held in charge of this Department for the country. How far Congress may be disposed to gratify the State of Vermont, in yielding to her these trophies, which her gallant sons had so distinguished a share in capturing, your Excellency must judge. I certainly should not offer any personal objections to such disposition of the cannon captured at Bennington.
W. L. MARCY,
Secretary of War. His Ex'y Wm. SLADE,
Governor of Vermont.