Wait Hopkins

Captain Wait Hopkins, Warner’s Additional Continental Regiment

Wait Hopkins was born October 9, 1738 at Harwinton, Connecticut. He was the son of Stephen and Jemima (Bronson) Hopkins.

Beginning in 1749, the New Hampshire governor Benning Wentworth issued numerous patents to land in the Green Mountains, counting on a vague border with New York to at least temporarily make the claims profitable. Settlers, moving in orderly, family-centered groups, took advantage of the new patents and moved into the area, establishing towns that were, although varied in religion and ethnic background, far from a wild frontier. In 1766, Wait Hopkins settled in Bennington, NH (the first of the “NH Grants” that would become the state of Vermont). In 1770, New Yorkers attempted to use a 1764 royal decision that the land belonged to them to move in Dutch settlers on new patents. Reacting to this incursion, Ethan Allen, a recent immigrant, formed the Green Mountain Boys, a group of men determined to protect their families’ lands, who used intimidation, violence, and harassment to drive off the hated “Yorkers.” Allen and his men successfully evaded the authorities, even posting a mock reward for their enemies in retaliation for bounties posted on their heads.

In the summer of 1775, Ethan Allen volunteered the Green Mountain Boys for service to the Continental Congress, transforming them into soldiers, not just outlaws. As such, on July 27, 1775, Wait Hopkins is listed as a captain and company commander in the Green Mountain Boys return of officers and men.

Using their knowledge of the area and Fort Ticonderoga’s weaknesses, Allen and Henry Knox seized the fort and its cannon, which eventually forced the British out of Boston.  

On July 5, 1776, Colonel Seth Warner’s Regiment was re-authorized by the Continental Congress as an Extra-Continental Regiment. Captain Hopkins transferred to Warner’s regiment and his commission dates from July 5, 1776. During this time he participated in the battles of Hubbardton on July 7, 1777 and Bennington on August 16, 1777.

All of the Additional Continental Regiments were having trouble enlisting recruits during 1778, as many of the States were paying additional enlistment bounties to new recruits for their own State Lines. This problem was made worse when General Washington ordered a draft of new recruits for Warner’s Regiment to Rhode Island instead of joining the Regiment. Political interference from New York with Vermont’s attempts to fill the Regiment was also a problem.

  Warner’s Regiment was involved in several skirmishes during 1778 & 1779.  The most significant engagement occurred at 14 Mile Island on Lake George, New York. In this battle, the Regiment lost 7 killed and 7 captured including Captain Wait Hopkins. The battle had occurred on July 15, 1779, when a group of officers led by Captain Wait Hopkins, accompanied by some civilians were on the island berry-picking. They were attacked by a scouting party of three white men and 24 Indians. Nine members of the Hopkins party were scalped and killed and the rest were taken prisoner. He left a wife, Mindwell Dewey Hopkins, and several children.

Sources: Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army, (Baltimore, 1914), 300; John E. Goodrich, The State of Vermont: Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 1775 to 1783, (Rutland, 1904), 107, 109-110, 623, 669, 682-683, 776-777, 814-815, 828, 831, 836-837; William R. Cutter, New England Families, Genealogical and Memorial, Volume IV (New York, 1914), 2004; Gavin K. Watt, The Burning of the Valleys, Dundurn Press (1997), 103–05; Elizabeth Cometti, ed. The American Journals of Lt John Enys, (Syracuse University Press, 1976), 51; Selected Wartime Service Records of Captain Wait Hopkins.