Today, the Vermont Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin remembers when Ethan Allen returned to Bennington on May 31, 1778 after his months of captivity.
From A Narrative of Col. Ethan Allen’s Captivity, from the time of his being taken by the British, near Montreal, on the 25th day of September, in the year 1775, to the time of his exchange, on the 6th day of May, 1778, by Ethan Allen, published in 1805:
I was confined in the provost jail at New York the 26th day of August, and continued there to the third day of May, 1778, when I was taken out under guard, and conducted to a sloop in the harbor at New York, in which I was guarded to Staten Island, to Gen. Campbell’s quarters, where I was admitted to eat and drink with the Gen. and several other of the British field officers, and treated for two days in a polite manner.
As I was drinking wine with them one evening, I made an observation on my transition from the provost criminals to the company of gentlemen, adding that I was the same man still, and should give the British credit by him (speaking to the Gen.) for two days good usage.
The next day Col. Archibald Campbell, who was exchanged for me, came to this place, conducted by Mr. Boudinot, the then American commissary of prisoners, and saluted me in a handsome manner, saying that he never was more glad to see any gentleman in his life, and I gave him to understand that I was equally glad to see him, and was apprehensive that it was from the same motive.
The gentlemen present laughed at the fancy, and conjectured that sweet liberty was the foundation of our gladness; so we took a glass of wine together, and then l was accompanied by Gen. Campbell, Col. Campbell, Mr. Boudinot, and a number of British officers, to the boat, which was ready to sail to Elizabethtown point.
Meanwhile I entertained them with a rehearsal of the cruelties exercised towards our prisoners; and assured them that I should use my influence, that their prisoners should be treated in future in the same manner, as they should in future treat ours; that I thought it was right in such extreme cases, that their example should be applied to their own prisoners; then exchanged, the decent ceremonies of compliment, and parted.
I sailed to the point aforesaid, and, in a transport of joy, landed on liberty ground,* and, as I advanced into the country, received the acclamations of a grateful people.
I soon fell into company with Col. Shelden, of the light horse, who in a polite and obliging manner accompanied me to headquarters, Valley Forge, where I was courteously received by Gen. Washington, with peculiar marks of his approbation and esteem, and was introduced to most of the generals, and many of the principal officers of the army, who treated me with respect, and after having offered Gen. Washington my farther service, in behalf of my country, as soon as my health, which was very much impaired, would admit, and obtain his license to return home, I took my leave of his Excellency, and set out from Valley Forge with Gen. Gates and his suit for Fish Kill, where we arrived the latter end of May.
In this tour the Gen. was pleased to treat me with the familiarity of a companion, and generosity of a lord, and to him I made known some striking circumstances which occurred in the course of my captivity.—
I then bid farewell to my noble Gen. and the gentlemen of his retinue, and set out for Bennington, the capital of the Green Mountain Boys, where I arrived the evening of the last day of May to their great surprise; for I was to them as one rose from the dead, and now both their joy and mine was complete.
Three cannon were fired that evening, and next morning Col. Herrick gave orders, and fourteen more were discharged, welcoming me to Bennington, my usual place of abode; thirteen for the United States, and one for young Vermont.
After this ceremony was ended we moved the flowing bowl, and rural felicity, sweetened with friendship, glowed in each countenance, and with loyal healths to the rising States of America, concluded that evening, and, with the same loyal spirit, I now conclude my narrative.
* To appreciate the real value of any of the pleasures of life, it is necessary, perhaps, to be for a while deprived of them.
Hunger, though an unpleasant sensation, gives us a most excellent relish for a well furnished repast; and the bird, who has recently escaped the confinement of the fowler, cleaves the ether with lighter pinions than his fellow, who has long hopped, languidly, from spray to spray, unconscious of the pains of captivity.
After such a recital of woes as the reader has witnessed, he will think that the feelings of Col. Allen on his arrival, must have nearly repaid him for the cruelty of his sufferings, and the length of his confinement.
“Swift as I move, where earth’s blest blessings dwell.
What glad presentiments my bosom swell!
What recollections! Memory’s power restores.
Home of my childhood, thy beloved shores!
Fair, bursting through oblivion’s mist, appear
Thy deep green vales, bold hills, and fountains clear.”
Home, a poem.
The Vermont Commemorative Silver Half Dollar Coin shows with an image of the Ethan Allen farm, circa 1910.