The Vermont War of Independence (also known as the Vermont Revolution) was a conflict in the North American War, fought between the Kingdom of New England and the Liberation Army of Vermont, who attempted to secede from New England and establish the Second Vermont Republic. In the end, the revolt was crushed and Vermont returned to New England control.
History of the Conflict
Roots of the Conflict
The Second Vermont Republic's modern-day roots lie in the North Eastern portion of the North American War, during which anti-New England sentiment arose in Vermont over the invasion of the Republic of New York, due to its cultural proximity to New York. In March 1997, the Liberation Army of Vermont was formed by Howard Dean, a former Whig politician who was expelled for voicing anti-New England sentiments.
The Liberation Army of Vermont began a series of guerrilla attacks on New England military and political facilities, particularly in south-western Vermont. Its successes triggered a rise in nationalist sentiment in Vermont, which culminated in the beginning of secessionist protests in August 1997. During this time, LAV cells began to be formed in all major towns and cities. It also began bombings outside Vermont, the most infamous example of which was the bombing of the Kennedy Islands Legislature on November 5, 1997. This bombing brought the struggle of the Vermont separatists to global attention, and brought them both praise and censure.
Finally, on January 3, 1998, the Vermont Revolution began, with attempts by urban cells to seize control of over 70 towns and cities. Although many of these attempts failed, particularly in eastern and northern Vermont, by the end of January over 60% of the state had fallen. On 22 January, Montpelier fell to the LAV in the First Battle of Montpelier, forcing the resignation of Governor Jim Douglas. General Howard Dean proclaimed himself President of the independent Second Vermont Republic.
The First Stage of the War
The LAV's success was short-lived; although it had support from Quebec and New York, the Liberation Army of Vermont lacked the military resources to preserve its borders against the technologically superior New England forces. In the long term, New England's blockade ensured that it lacked the capability to fend off enemy invasion. The Liberation Army of Vermont focused on maintaining its borders through a series of guerrilla campaigns across the state, but without major capability for territorial advances. New England's campaigns focused mostly on bombing, which the Liberation Army of Vermont had little capability to stop; in a raid on Montpelier on 5 August, nearly 1000 people were killed, forcing the capital's evacuation aside from military and government personnel.
The pivotal battle of the war was the Battle of Burlington. On September 9, a force of 8000 LAV troops, New York soldiers and ships and Quebecois mercenaries advanced on Burlington, which was defended by German and New England forces. New York naval forces engaged German forces on Lake Champlain, while LAV forces advanced through the town, aided by widespread revolt by residents. The advancing forces were quickly cut off from reinforcement by German tanks, cutting LAV reinforcements off five miles from the town. A series of napalm bombing raids destroyed much of the LAV force, and the town was quickly retaken by New England forces. Over 5 000 LAV soldiers perished in the fighting, with up to 5 000 civilian casualties. The battle effectively crippled Vermont's military capabilities, leaving it incapable of resisting New England invasion. Although the New York war turned against New England at this time, with the creation of the People's Republic of Quebec to aid New York, Vermont remained incapable of stopping the New England advance. General Robert Newman, military governor of Vermont and victorious general of the battle, was given a lordship on the battlefield by King Edward I, following the defeat of the LAV.
Although the war never escalated to the use of weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations, chemical weapons were used extensively by both sides. New England bombers released thousands of litres of Agent Orange, a German defoliant derivative of dioxin, designed to destroy the forests which served as cover for the LAV. This caused massive destruction of ecosystems within Vermont, and may have led to health problems in veterans of the conflict. Napalm was also used in attacks on LAV-friendly villages, attracting international condemnation. At the same time, the LAV continued its terrorist campaign across New England. On the 22 January 1999, the first anniversary of the declaration of the conflict, sarin was released into Boston South Station by LAV agents, killing 63 people and hospitalising hundreds.
The Fall of the Republic
Following the Battle of Burlington, New England began a major offensive into Vermont, retaking much of the southern half of the state within three months. The retreating Vermont forces lead a guerrilla, 'scorched earth' campaign against the advancing New England forces. During this time, attacks by the Liberation Army of Vermont focused on destroying supply lines and ambushes against New England convoys. Although this managed to slow the enemy down considerably, and even managed to force them into retreat in some cases, it was unable to stop their advance. On March 3, 1999, Bennington fell to New England forces after the five-day Battle of Bennington, during which time much of the town was destroyed by street-to-street fighting.
The pivotal Battle of the Winooski River was fought on June 6, 1999. An attempt by LAV forces to attack a New England convoy quickly turned into a complete rout, due to the leaking of LAV plans by New England sympathisers. Hidden reinforcements guarding the convoy emerged, leaving the ill-equipped, starving LAV forces outnumbered and outgunned. The battle decimated LAV forces, effectively cutting off foreign aid or LAV reinforcement to the beleagured republic. By August, Montpelier, the last town loyal to the Second Vermont Republic, was surrounded. On 11 August, New England troops invaded the town, killing President Dean and ending the Second Vermont Republic.
By August, Montpelier, the last town loyal to the Second Vermont Republic, was surrounded. On 11 August, New England troops invaded the town in the Second Battle of Montpelier, killing President Dean and ending the Second Vermont Republic.
The rump of the Liberation Army of Vermont continued attacking New England forces in the Green Mountains for the next two years, but enjoyed little success. On 3 March 2001, the last cell of Liberation Army of Vermont was destroyed by New England bombers, and the revolt was crushed.
Casualties from the war are still unclear; the Kingdom of New England's figures indicate 15 000 military deaths from the conflict, with 500 civilian deaths from terrorist attacks across New England. 15 000 LAV soldiers died as a result of the fighting. Civilian deaths are more uncertain, due to the unknown health effects of Agent Orange, and the Second Vermont Republic's refusal to publish statistics before its collapse and the subsequent destruction of records. 20 000 civilians is the median estimate, leading to a total of over 50 000 deaths from the conflict as a whole.