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John Stark: Man Made for War

Jamie has a degree in molecular biology and has worked in Histology Labs for over ten years.

Abenaki Tribe (Illustration of Abenaki warriors by Robert Griffing)

Abenaki Tribe (Illustration of Abenaki warriors by Robert Griffing)

Who Was John Stark

John Stark, a lesser-known hero of the revolutionary war, was able to use his combined knowledge of combat to win battles against the British that changed the course of the Revolutionary War. He learned his skill in combat and war strategy from his experiences of being trained as an Indian Warrior, fighting with the Rangers in the French Indian War, and surviving the Battle of Bunker Hill. The fight between his militiamen and the Germans at Bennington is where his combined knowledge provided the advantage necessary to earn America’s independence.

Battle of Bennington

Life Among the Abenaki Tribe

Certain individuals raised in America prior to the Revolutionary War provided military knowledge necessary to battle the British and earn America its independence. John Stark was a man raised by Indians in Quebec, a Captain in the French Indian War, led a unit to Bunker Hill, and earned rank of Major General in the Continental Army. The experiences Stark learned through his life in combat led to victory of historic battles that changed the course of the War.

John Stark was born in Londonberry New Hampshire in 1728 when the East Coast of America was like the Wild West (Kosher, 2020). When he was 24 years old and hunting at the Pemiqeulasset River he was captured by Abenaki Indians (Kenny, 2011). The Abenaki captured him and carried him off to Quebec. While captured the Indians had Stark fight their best warriors with a stick in what was called the gauntlet. He immediately attacked the warriors in the front of the gauntlet and created surprise. This advantage led to the tribe accepting John Stark as their own and trained him to be an Indian warrior (Kenny, 2011). After fighting with the Abenaki in the French Indian War he gained the rank of Captain for a group called the Rangers before he moved back to New Hampshire and soon joined the Revolutionary War (Kosher, 2020).

Battle of Bennington

Brigadier-General John Stark at the Battle of Bennington on 16th August 1777 in the American Revolutionary War: picture by Frederick Coffay Yohn

Brigadier-General John Stark at the Battle of Bennington on 16th August 1777 in the American Revolutionary War: picture by Frederick Coffay Yohn

Battle of Bennington

Stark joined the Battle for Bunker Hill with the New Hampshire Minutemen. He moved the Minutemen into the center of the battle where they built field fortifications made of bricks and dug foxholes. The minutemen hid behind the fortifications and the foxholes until the British were right on top of them and then fired upon the Redcoats (Kosher, 2020). The casualties created by the minutemen helped to turn the Battle of Bunker Hill around and the use of fortifications in battle became widely taught in military training afterwards. Shortly after the Battle of Bunker Hill Stark participated in the Battle of Bennington, a battle that would also change the course of the Revolutionary War.

On August 8th, 1777, Stark led 1500 Militiamen from Manchester to Bennington (Kenny, 2011). He heard the Germans were invading Vermont and led his men to try to stop them in their tracks. When they arrived, he noticed that the Germans had started a line of canons in Bennington that created a barrage of artillery fire which prevented all troops from moving forward (Kenny, 2011). He led his Militiamen quickly to the front to face the canons and started a fire along the front which created a smoke screen and gave the advantage to his militiamen and won the battle. The canons would not have been easy to overcome if it were not for the charge of Stark and his men. Once again, his strategy in battle made its way into military officer training after the war.

John Stark at Bennington

John Stark at Bennington

"Live Free or Die: Death is Not Worse Evil"

After John Stark learned to be a warrior by the Abenaki Indians and learned about true combat during the French Indian War he was able to combine all his knowledge of battle to help America earn its independence during the Revolutionary War. He earned his respect by changing the rules of the game of war and by being brave enough to charge a line of canons to gain advantage in combat. The words he wrote in a letter after the Battle of Bennington became the motto of Vermont and recently quoted by many Americans: “Live Free or Die: Death is not worse evil.”



Kenny, Jack. (2011). History. General John Stark – The man, the motto, and the “Coverup.”

Kosher, John. (2020). Military History. Rising above rank: Overlooking a studied insult by congress, John Stark rallied to the patriot at Bennington in 1777.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Jamie Lee Hamann


John Hansen from Queensland Australia on July 04, 2021:

An interesting history lesson, Jamie. Thank you for sharing the story of John Stark.

Sankhajit Bhattacharjee from MILWAUKEE on July 04, 2021:

nice post...we should know history...

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