In the colonial era and during the events leading to the Revolution, Connecticut had a vital political role. During the Revolution it became known as "the Provision State" for its preeminence in giving logistical support. Because of this Connecticut suffered three major punitive expeditions; its native son Benedict Arnold was the hero of the first (see DANBURY) and the villain of the last (see NEW LONDON). The large number of Connecticut settlers in Ohio is a direct result of these raids, the Western Reserve being "reserved" by Connecticut for settlement by its people when it surrendered claims to all other western lands in 1786. The 500,000-acre tract in this reserve known as the Fire Lands was used to compensate citizens of Danbury, Fairfield, Norwalk, New Haven, and New London for their losses in British raids. But although Connecticut saw little fighting on its own soil, it sent a great many of its men off to serve in the Continental army, and for some, their absence from Connecticut helps to explain why the local militia showed so little valor in defending home and hearth. But most scholars note that the majority of Connecticut's Continental soldiers were reluctant enlistees, as was true for soldiers from most states.
Industrial prosperity since the Revolution has eliminated many of Connecticut's historical landmarks. Unfortunately, there is no published guide to historical markers. The inventory of 1962, presumably the most recent, lists 139 historical signs restricted to about 50 towns and containing minimal information. The following listing identifies the major historical landmarks in Connecticut, omitting a good many of purely architectural importance. Agencies with statewide responsibility are identified at the end of the section on Hartford.
Bridgeport, Fairfield County. Now a city of 141,000 people, Bridgeport—then called Newfield—was in the path of Governor Tryon's raid of 1779. The Grovers Hill Fort site on Black Rock Drive is where a protected gun emplacement was erected in 1776 to overlook a small harbor. From there Captains Daniel Hawley and Samuel Lockwood departed with twenty-five men in a whaleboat to capture Thomas Jones (1731–1792) at his home, Fort Neck, South Oyster Bay, Long Island. This happened on 6 November 1779. The Patriots seized the much-persecuted Judge Jones, who wrote a history of the Revolution from the Loyalist viewpoint (History of New York during the Revolutionary War, published in 1879), with the idea of exchanging him for General Gold Selleck Silliman. The latter had been a student at Yale, was chief of military activities in Fairfield County, and had been kidnapped earlier in the year by the Loyalists.
In April 1780 the two hostages were exchanged. The Gold Selleck Silliman home remains standing in Fairfield. Judge Jones's house, called Tryon Hall in honor of the governor, survived until modern times but has since disappeared. The unmarked site is on Merrick Road west of Cartwright Avenue in Massapequa, New York on Long Island. In the Library of Congress there are eighteen measured drawings of the house made from data gathered in 1934 by the Historic American Buildings Survey.
(Bridgeport Public Library Historical Collections, 925 Broad Street, Bridgeport, Conn. 06604; phone: (203) 576-7417. Website: www.bridgeportpubliclibrary.org.)
Compo Beach, Long Island Sound between Norwalk and Bridgeport. A force of two thousand British and Loyalist Page 46 | Top of Articleraiders landed in this vicinity on 25 April 1777 and debarked three days later after burning Danbury, fighting their way through a blocking position at Ridgefield, and launching a vigorous spoiling attack from Compo Hill to permit their safe withdrawal. The expedition had been escorted from New York by two frigates. Compo Road leads south from U.S. 1 in Westport Township to the present community of Compo Beach, which features a 29-acre park in the general area of the British landing and re-embarkation.
Danbury, Fairfield County. Emigrants from Norwalk settled this region of wooded foothills of the Berkshires in 1684. Good waterpower helped make Danbury an important manufacturing center from colonial days. The British mercantile system discouraged production in America of goods that would compete with English manufacturing, and the growing hat industry in the colonies led to passage in 1732 of the Hat Act, which imposed restrictions including export of hats from one colony to another. Danbury's long preeminence as a center of the felt industry dates from the beginning of felt hat manufacture in 1780.
The village was also an important supply depot for the Patriot forces in the Revolution, and consequently the objective of a devastating enemy raid in April 1777. General William Tryon, former royal governor of North Carolina and later of New York, led about 2,000 British and Loyalist troops from Compo Beach to reach Danbury, unopposed, on 23 April. The 150 Continental troops stationed in the area evacuated the small quantity of military supplies from the Episcopal church (see below), but the raiders, unimpeded by patriotic heroism, burned about 20 homes and twice that number of barns and storehouses, and destroyed military clothing and provisions, including a supply of about 1,700 tents.
General Benedict Arnold happened to be in the area, tending to his neglected personal affairs in New Haven and thoroughly disgusted with the failure of Congress to recognize his military accomplishments. Washington was urging Congress to promote Arnold to major general, and urging Arnold to stay in the service. The Danbury raid brought the "Whirlwind Hero" into the field, and the British met their first real resistance at Ridgefield. General David Wooster was mortally wounded in pursuing the British. He died five days later (2 May 1777), and is buried here in Wooster Cemetery on Ellsworth Avenue. Congress gave Arnold a horse and a promotion and voted Wooster a monument, but never got around to putting it up. The Masons erected one in 1854.
Enoch Crosby, the famous Patriot spy, was living in Danbury when the Revolution started (see FISHKILL VILLAGE, NEW YORK). The Early Episcopal Church site is now occupied by the South Street School at Main and South Streets. The old church was spared by the raiders of 1777 because most of its members were Loyalists, but Danbury got even by neglecting the structure, then moving it to the southwest corner of South Street and Mountainville Avenue, where it became a tenement house and finally was destroyed. The Colonel Joseph Platt Cooke House of 1770 at 342 Main Street was torn down in 1972 to make way for a bank. Having survived the British raid of 1777 (it was only partially burned), its visitors during the Revolution included Washington, Lafayette, and Rochambeau.
The Danbury Scott-Fanton Museum and Historical Society, formed in 1947 by a merger of older organizations, has preserved four old structures: the John Rider House (c. 1785), the John Dodd House and Hat Shop (1790), the Charles Ives Homestead (c. 1780), and the King Street One-Room School. The first two are house museums adjoining Huntington Hall, a modern administrative building and museum, in downtown Danbury at 43-45 Main Street. The other buildings are being restored on property owned by the Society adjacent to Rogers Park.
(Danbury Museum and Historical Society, 43 Main Street, Danbury, Conn. 06810; phone: (203) 743-5200; website: www.danburyhistorical.org.)
Fairfield, Fairfield County. Roger Ludlow took part in the Swamp Fight of 1637 that wiped out what remained of the Pequot Indians. (Their population, estimated at three thousand, was nearly depleted. However, the Western Pequots received federal recognition as a tribe in 1983 and emerged as a powerful economic force in southeastern Connecticut when their casinos, which opened in 1992, prospered.) The battle site is just east of the presently settled area of Fairfield, Connecticut.
Attracted to the real-estate development possibilities of the site, Ludlow settled Fairfield in 1639, although he first took interest in the area after his success in battling the Pequots. The town prospered, giving its name to the county, but was virtually destroyed by British raiders during the Revolution. Abandoned on the approach of General Tryon's expedition in July 1779, Fairfield was occupied by the British on 8 July. Four small houses were spared, apparently because the British used them during their brief stay, but the rest were burned. The Patriots reported the loss of 83 homes, 54 barns, 47 storehouses, 2 schools, 2 churches, and the courthouse. Nearby Bridgeport outstripped Fairfield after the Revolution, but the latter is nevertheless a thriving town of about 57,000 people today.
Marked historic sites in Fairfield are McKenzies Point, off which the British anchored in July 1779; the beach where they landed and Beach Road, which they used in occupying the town; and the green, where Tryon posted the proclamation calling for inhabitants to swear Page 47 | Top of Articleallegiance to King George III. The Town Hall, rebuilt on the green in 1794, has records dating from 1648. Opposite the green at 636 Old Post Road is the Fairfield Historical Society, a venerable institution dating from 1903 and active today. The Society has a museum, archives, and library.
The Gold Selleck Silliman House (1756) is still standing. Privately owned, this large, clapboard structure with a central chimney has been somewhat remodeled. The house is historic not only as the home of a prominent Patriot general but as the site of his kidnapping on 1 May 1779 by Loyalists. The Patriots retaliated by kidnapping Judge Thomas Jones (see BRIDGEPORT) and holding him a few days at the Silliman house before taking him to Middletown. Mrs. Silliman fled to Trumbull, where she stayed at a tavern on Daniels Farm Road; there on 8 August 1779 she gave birth to Benjamin Silliman, who became a prominent and influential scientist of the first half of the next century. (The historic tavern has been destroyed.) The Gold Selleck Silliman House is at 506 Jennings Road in Fairfield, about 200 yards east of the Black Rock Turnpike.
(Fairfield Historical Society, 636 Old Post Road, Fairfield, Conn. 06430; phone: (203) 259-1598; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Farmington, Hartford County. In 1640 this area was established as Tunxis Plantation, a frontier trading center about 10 miles west of Hartford and Wethersfield. Rochambeau's French army camped here in the summer of 1781 en route to join Washington's forces for an attack on New York City. The site is marked by a plaque on a boulder in the small park at Main Street and Farmington Avenue. The Stanley-Whitman House at 37 High Street, a two-and-a-half-story saltbox with a great center chimney and a long sloping rear roof, was built about 1720 and is of exceptional architectural interest (framed overhang with pendants). A National Historic Landmark, in 1935 it opened as the Farmington Museum, displaying seventeenth- and eighteenth-century objects of particular note. Now a town of about twenty-three thousand, Farmington is perhaps best known for Miss Porter's School for Girls (established 1843).
Fort Griswold State Park
Fort Griswold State Park, Fort and Thames Streets, Groton, New London County. The New London raid by Benedict Arnold on 6 September 1781 included reduction of two forts defending the mouth of the Thames River: Fort Trumbull on the west and Fort Griswold on Groton Heights. The latter, defended by Lieutenant Colonel William Ledyard with about 140 militia, was a square fort with stone walls 12 feet high, a fraised ditch, and outworks. (A fraise is a form of palisade, but the
pointed timbers are slanted horizontally toward the front.) Fort Trumbull was not designed for defense against an attack by land, so its small garrison of twenty-four men under Captain Adam Shapley delivered one volley of musket and cannon, spiked their eight guns, and reinforced Fort Griswold.
The British attack on the latter position was led by Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Eyre, who landed on the east side of the river with two British battalions, the Third Battalion of New Jersey Loyalists, a detachment of German light infantry (jaegers), and some artillery. Total strength was about eight hundred.
Fort Griswold resisted repeated assaults for about forty minutes. Eyre was mortally wounded in the first attack, and his second in command, Major Montgomery, was killed on the parapet while leading another effort. A bas-relief at Old Fort Griswold, used as the frontispiece of Benjamin Quarles's study, The Negro in the American Revolution Page 48 | Top of Article(1961), shows the barefoot black servant of the fort commander killing Montgomery with a spear. (This man, Jordan Freeman, and another black orderly, Lambo Lathan, were killed later in this action.) Christopher Ward, in his standard work on the Revolution, The War of the Revolution, says Montgomery was killed by Captain Shapley, but sources remain divided.
The odds were too great, however, for the Patriots. How the subsequent massacre occurred is not known. It is said that Ledyard was stabbed with his own sword after surrendering it to a Loyalist officer, whereupon an American officer stabbed the latter, after which the victors bayoneted a great many of the vanquished.
Benedict Arnold reported 85 Patriots killed at Fort Griswold and 60 wounded, most of them mortally. The Americans reported about 75 killed, only 3 of them before the surrender. None of these figures are reliable, but Arnold's own losses of about 50 killed and 150 wounded indicate the severity of the fighting around Fort Griswold.
The 860-acre state park contains portions of the stone fortification and earthworks. A 135-foot monument on the hill near the fort was dedicated in 1830 to the victims of the massacre and lists their names, reflecting the racism of the era by listing the African American victims last under "Colored Men," and giving Lambert Latham, who had fought heroically in the battle, the first name "Sambo." The site provides an excellent point of observation. The nearby Monument House, operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution, has relics of the battle, period furniture, china, and other exhibits. The Fort Griswold State Park is located at 57 Fort Street, Groton, Conn. 06340; phone: (860) 445-1729. Information about Fort Griswold is available from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); phone: (860) 424-3200; email: email@example.com.
Greens Farms, Long Island Sound, Westport Township, Fairfield County. Governor William Tryon's Connecticut Coast raid of July 1779 reached this place on 9 July and destroyed more than two hundred buildings, according to one report (though most accounts put the figure at about 30). The punitive expedition had previously ravaged Fairfield, and it ended at Norwalk. The name of the colonial settlement is preserved in the present village, which shows on highway maps.
Guilford, Long Island Sound, New Haven County. Because it was not among the many shore towns destroyed by British punitive expeditions, Guilford, settled in 1639 by English Puritans under Reverend Henry Whitfield, has three surviving houses of the early colonial era. What may be the oldest stone dwelling in New England stands as the Whitfield House, on Whitfield Street, built in 1639 and used as a fort, church, and meeting hall. The massive two-and-a-half-story structure with steeply pitched roof and huge end chimneys was restored in 1936—perhaps too well for architectural historians to accept—and is a state museum. The Hyland House (1660) at 84 Boston Street and Griswold House (1735) at 171 Boston Street are National Historic Landmarks, both open to the public.
Guilford was the starting point for the highly successful raid led by Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs (see MEIGS HOUSE SITE) in May 1777. There is historical confusion about this operation, which followed Governor Tryon's raid on Danbury by about a month. Most authorities give 23 to 24 May as the dates, but some have it taking place on 12 or 29 May.
Whatever the exact time, about 170 men under Meigs left Guilford in 13 whaleboats escorted by 2 armed sloops, rowed from Sachem Head through British warships in the Sound without being detected in the night, and surprised and defeated Lieutenant Colonel Stephen De Lancey's "battalion" of 70 Loyalists at Sag Harbor, Long Island (see under NEW YORK), killing 6 and capturing the rest. Meigs then burned 100 tons of hay, 10 transports, and the wharves. He was back at Guilford by noon, having covered almost 100 miles in 18 hours without losing a man. Congress voted him "an elegant sword."
(Dorothy Whitfield Historic Society, 84 Boston Street [Hyland House]; Guilford Keeping Society, 171 Boston Street [Griswold House], phone: (203) 453-3176; and Henry Whitfield State Historical Museum, 248 Old Whitfield Street, phone: (203) 453-2457; all in Guilford, Conn. 06437.)
Hale (Nathan) Birth Site
Hale (Nathan) Birth Site, near Coventry, Tolland County. The house in which Nathan Hale was born (6 June 1755) was pulled down after the new family home was built adjacent to it. According to local tradition, the newer house incorporates a part of the one in which Nathan was born. Hale was executed as a spy on 22 September 1776, more than a month before the family moved into the new structure, and he never saw it. The Nathan Hale Homestead, as it is called, has been restored and furnished handsomely by the Antiquarian and Landmark Society of Connecticut (Hartford) (255 Main Street, Hartford, Conn. 06103).
The site is 4.5 miles from the village of Coventry at 2229 South Street, Coventry, Connecticut. The phone number is (860) 742-6917. From the junction of Conn. State Highway 31 (from South Coventry) and U.S. Highway 44A in Coventry, go west 0.5 mile on U.S. 44A, turn south on Silver Street, follow this south to South Street, and turn east to the site. State highway markers are on U.S. 6 near Andover and at the junction Page 49
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of the road that runs to the site along the southwest side of Wamgumbaug Lake near South Coventry.
Hale (Nathan) Schoolhouse
Hale (Nathan) Schoolhouse, East Haddam. On a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River, behind St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, is the first school in which Nathan Hale taught for one season after graduating from Yale (1773) and before moving to teach in New London. The school originally stood on the town green at the junction of Main Street and Norwich Road. In 1799 it ceased to be used as a school and was moved up to the front yard of what became St. Stephen's in the 1890s. Here it was a dwelling for one hundred years. Saved then from demolition, it was moved to its present location behind the church at 29 Main Street and it has recently been furnished with desks and a fireplace to restore its colonial appearance. Owned by the Sons of the American Revolution, it is open on weekends. The graves of General Joseph Spencer (1714–1789) and his wife are in the nearby churchyard.
(East Haddam Historical Society, 264 Town Street, East Haddam, Conn. 06423.)
Hartford, Connecticut River. No dramatic military action occurred here in the capital of Connecticut during the Revolution to give it "historic landmarks" for today's tourist to visit. But the place, first occupied by the Dutch in 1633 and settled a few years later by Englishmen from around Cambridge, Massachusetts, had a large political role in colonial and federalist politics. The Treaty of Hartford in 1650 established the boundary between New Amsterdam and the New England colonies (a line running due north of Greenwich, and diagonally across Long Island from Oyster Bay). The Hartford Courant, founded in 1764 and still publishing (285 Broad Street), is one of more than one hundred periodicals established in Hartford, and is America's oldest newspaper with a continuous circulation under the same name; it was very influential in the critical years before and after the Revolution in shaping public opinion.
The old town square, laid out in 1637, is now called City Hall Square. Here is the Old State House, an outstanding example of colonial architecture designed by Charles Bulfinch (its construction supervised by John Trumbull), completed in 1796, used as one of the state's Page 50 | Top of Articletwo capitols until 1873 (sharing the honor with the capitol in New Haven), and then the sole capitol until 1879 (when the new building was completed). It is a National Historic Landmark. The present State Capitol (1880) is embellished with historic art inside and out. Relics include Israel Putnam's tombstone and Lafayette's camp bed. The State Library and Court Building contains a full-length portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart and the original charter of 1662 (or a duplicate signed also by Charles II the same year). The Connecticut Historical Society's museum has Israel Putnam's sword, Nathan Hale's diary, and a piece of the original charter of 1662.
(Antiquarian and Landmarks Society of Connecticut, 255 Main Street, Hartford, Conn. 06106; phone: (860) 247-8996. Connecticut Historical Commission, 59 South Prospect Street, Hartford, Conn. 06106; phone: (860) 566-3005. Connecticut Historical Society, 1 Elizabeth Street, Hartford, Conn. 06105. Connecticut State Library, 231 Capitol Avenue, Hartford, Conn. 06115; phone: (860) 253-7412.)
Litchfield Historic District
Litchfield Historic District, Litchfield County. The 250th anniversary of Litchfield, a pretty little town of about 1,400 people, was celebrated in 1969. Although no fighting took place in the region during the Revolution, Litchfield was an important communications hub, with routes to New York City and Albany from Boston, Hartford, and New Haven. The town was a military depot and workshop for the Continental army in the north. More than five hundred Litchfield men went away to serve in the war, among them four companies of Sheldon's Horse, recruited in the vicinity by Benjamin Tallmadge. Ethan Allen's birthplace also survives in Litchfield. Another local man who left for the war was Aaron Burr, brother-in-law of Tapping Reeve and the latter's first law student.
About forty structures and other landmarks are within the relatively small Litchfield Historic District. The most important are listed below; all but the first are private homes today and not open to the public.
The Judge Tapping Reeve House (1773) and Law School Building (1784) are on South Street and Wolcott Street, a block from the green. Judge Reeve quickly became famous as a teacher of law and is generally credited with founding the country's first law school (1774). Ten years later he found it necessary to erect the small frame structure in his side yard. Judge Reeve's graduates make impressive statistics: 101 members of Congress, 34 chief justices of states, 40 judges of higher state courts, 28 United States senators, 14 governors of states, 6 cabinet members, and 3 justices of the United States Supreme Court. Two (Aaron Burr and John C. Calhoun) became vice presidents of the United States. (Aaron Burr, whose father was the second president of Princeton, had graduated from that college with distinction at age sixteen. His sister Sally married Reeve, who was also a Princetonian. Aaron was Reeve's first student and was nineteen when he left to become an "unattached volunteer" on Benedict Arnold's march to Quebec.) The houses are open to the public and operated by the Litchfield Historical Society, which also has a museum on the green and a research library.
The Ethan Allen Birthplace, a small, gambrel-roofed house on Old South Road, is believed to date from 1736 (scratched on a fireplace), which would make it the oldest in the village.
Sheldon's Tavern on North Street dates from 1760. The WPA Guide says it was designed by William Spratt, a London architect serving in the British army, and that Spratt added the ornamental railing on the roof in 1790 when the inn became a private residence. Other authorities say that Spratt only designed the elaborate entrance portico and palladian window added after 1760. George Washington's diary records his spending a night here.
The Benjamin Tallmadge House of 1775 is next to Sheldon's Tavern. Colonel Tallmadge (whose original home was in Setauket, New York), one of Washington's most esteemed subordinates and companions during the Revolution, became a businessman in Litchfield after the war. He added the second-story porticos after seeing Mount Vernon, to which the house bears a marked resemblance. The so-called Colonel Tallmadge House of 1784 was built by him as a store just south of his home. In 1801 it was moved to its present location across North Street and a few doors farther north.
Oliver Wolcott the Older was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and governor of Connecticut from 1796 until his death the next year. The family has a remarkable record for filling this office, best summarized by the fact that the senior Oliver Wolcott's sister Ursula had the distinction of having a father, brother, husband, son, and nephew (Oliver, Jr.) who were governors of Connecticut. The Older Oliver Wolcott House is presently owned by a direct descendant of the man who built it in 1753 to 1754. Part of the statue of George III from Bowling Green (see under NEW YORK CITY: MANHATTAN) was molded into bullets by local ladies working in the side yard of this house. It is a simple frame structure of two and one-half stories with a gable roof and central chimney. Located on South Street opposite the Tapping Reeve House, it is near the handsome house of 1799 owned at one time by Oliver Wolcott, Jr. A contemporary building to the rear of the latter structure houses the Oliver Wolcott Library.
(Litchfield Historical Society, 7 South Street, Litchfield, Conn. 06759; phone: (860) 567-4501.)
Meigs (Return Jonathan) House Site
Meigs (Return Jonathan) House Site, Middletown, Middlesex County. The house itself was torn down in 1936; the site is at 64 Crescent Street in a town of some 43,000 people, first settled in 1650. Son of a hatter, Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs (1740–1823) is interesting not only because of his remarkable Revolutionary War record as a combat commander but also for his delightful name, which was handed down from his father, who had been so named by his own father. As the story goes, Meigs's grandfather was courting a Quaker lady who had just about rejected him as a prospective husband when she suddenly relented and called out "Return, Jonathan!"; the overjoyed suitor vowed to make those sweet words his firstborn son's name.
Colonel Meigs of the Revolution started as a lieutenant in 1772, was a captain when he led a company to Boston, and was a major (second in command to the controversial Roger Enos) during Arnold's March to Quebec. One of the valuable journals of this expedition was kept by Meigs. Captured after scaling the walls of Quebec, he was on parole until exchanged a little more than a year later (10 January 1777). Promoted to lieutenant colonel, he conducted a brilliant raid from Guilford to Sag Harbor, Long Island (see under NEW YORK). He later had a major role in the capture of Stony Point, New York, and in stopping the mutiny of Connecticut troops in May 1780. When Arnold's treason was discovered, Meigs's Sixth Connecticut ("Leather Cap") Regiment was the first sent to defend the West Point area from the expected British offensive. The Connecticut regiments were reorganized shortly thereafter, and Meigs retired from military service (1 January 1781). After the war he became a surveyor for the Ohio Company of Associates, a leader in settling the region, and later an Indian agent.
Colonel Meigs's son and namesake became governor of Ohio. Another namesake (1801–1891), a nephew, was a prominent lawyer.
(Middlesex County Historical Society, 151 Main Street, Middletown, Conn. 06457; phone: (860) 349-0665.)
Mystic, New London County. The 37-acre Mystic Seaport Village recreates a coastal village of the nineteenth century, the time when famous clipper ships were built here. Among the dwellings is the Samuel Buckingham House (1768). The others date from after the Revolution, a total of nearly sixty structures of various sorts. Historic ships are exhibited at the wharves.
The Denison Homestead (1717), on Pequot-Sepos Road about 1.5 miles from Mystic, is on the 200-acre site of the original "mansion house" built by Captain George Denison, commander of Connecticut troops in King Philip's War. It is restored to show how eleven generations lived here. (Address inquiries to Denison Society, Pequot-Sepos Rd. P.O. Box 42, Mystic, Conn. 06355; phone: (860) 536-9248.)
Newgate Prison and Granby Copper Mines
Newgate Prison and Granby Copper Mines, East Granby, Hartford County. Often called the Simsbury mines, these were first worked in 1707. "Granby coppers" were common currency after 1737. By 1773 the mines were no longer productive, and they became Connecticut's jail for burglars, horse thieves, robbers, and—appropriately—counterfeiters. The place was named for Newgate Prison in London. During the Revolution it housed Loyalists and prisoners of war, acquiring an even more evil reputation than its namesake. In 1827 the newly completed prison at Wethersfield replaced Newgate. The aboveground structures, dating mostly from the early nineteenth century, had fallen into ruin when the Connecticut Historical Commission acquired the site in 1968. These have been restored, and the site was opened to the public in 1972. In 1976 Newgate Prison was declared a National Historic Landmark. Presently visitors can tour the 70-foot mine, where underground cells are preserved. A museum interprets Newgate's history as a prison and as probably the first copper mine developed in British America.
Take Exit 40 off I-91, heading West on Route 20. Proceed for approximately 8 miles until you come to the intersection of Routes 187 and 20. Continue up the hill, take a right at the signal light. Head north on Newgate Road for 2.3 miles; Olde New-Gate Prison is on the left.
(Connecticut Historical Commission, 59 South Prospect Street, Hartford, Conn. 06106.)
New Haven, New Haven Bay. A band of recently arrived English Puritans established the town and colony at this choice location in 1637. A few years later it was expanded into the New Haven Jurisdiction to include the towns of New Haven, Guilford, Milford, Stamford, Bramford, and (across the Sound on Long Island) Southold. This "jurisdiction" dissolved in 1664.
The older portion of the modern city preserves the original layout of square blocks around the 16-acre green, the first such city plan in America. In about 1750 New Haven started its period of greatest prosperity, becoming a major port for the expanding trade with other American colonies and the West Indies. Benedict Arnold moved here as a young man of twenty-ome to open a shop to sell drugs and books, and soon became a successful merchant sailing his own ships to Canada and the West Indies. New Haven was notorious as a center for illicit trade, and consequently a hotbed of Revolutionary sentiment from the start of the resistance to British authority.
The prime objective of General Sir Henry Clinton's punitive expedition along the Connecticut Coast in July Page 52
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1779 was New Haven. Brigadier Garth's division of his force attacked the place on 5 July. It was delayed briefly at a bridge across West River by a small body of volunteers including Yale students, but the raiders detoured along Milford Hill to the Derby Road and entered the town about noon. Reinforcements from the second division landed on the east side of the harbor and attacked the small position at Black Rock, now preserved as Fort Hale Park (see below). Garth intended to burn the town the next day, as soon as he had secured his position. But the local militia was massing in such strength that Garth withdrew from the town without being able to organize what he called "the conflagration it so richly deserved." The town did not suffer the fate of Fairfield, Greens Farms, and Norwalk, which were burned during the next few days.
The most important historical landmark surviving in New Haven is Connecticut Hall (1752), all that is left of Old Brick Row of Yale College. This dormitory has the room occupied by Nathan Hale as a student.
New Haven Green is where Captain Benedict Arnold assembled his Second Company, Connecticut Governor's Foot Guard, on 22 April 1775, two days after the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, and forced the New Haven selectmen to surrender the keys to the municipal powder house.
The old burial ground of the First Church of Christ, part of which is covered by the present structure (the fourth on the site) is on Temple Street in the middle of the green. The oldest of the 137 historic gravestones dates from 1687.
Yale University has several notable libraries and museums, including the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (which houses a Gutenberg Bible and books from the college library of 1742), the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Sterling Memorial Library, and the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments.
East Rock Park, which starts about a mile northeast of the green, preserves a point used by the Indians for signaling and the place where many inhabitants of New Haven took refuge during the British raid. The 426-acre park encompasses a rock that is 359 feet high and 1.5 miles long.
Fort Hale Park overlooks the harbor from the east. Here Governor Tryon's division of the punitive expedition, mainly Loyalists and Germans, overcame a small garrison and three guns that had caused them considerable annoyance during their landing a short distance south at Lighthouse Point (so called after 1840). Tryon re-embarked from Fort Hale when Garth withdrew from New Haven and continued his raid to the south. The place was called Fort Rock before being renamed in honor of Nathan Hale after the Revolution.
The Pardee Morris House, 325 Lighthouse Road, was built in 1685, partially destroyed during the Revolution, and rebuilt in 1780. With period furnishings, it is among the "Sites Also Noted" by the National Survey and open to the public (hours limited).
Back in the center of town, the New Haven Colony Historical Society, 114 Whitney Avenue, has a regional museum.
(New Haven Preservation Trust, 900 Chapel Street, Box 1671, New Haven, Conn. 06510; phone: (203) 562-5919.)
New London, Thames River, New London County. About 3 miles from where the river enters Long Island Sound, and a good natural harbor, the site was settled in 1646 by John Winthrop the Younger with Puritans from Massachusetts. In 1658 it adopted the name New London, having been called Nameaug, and the Thames lost its Indian name at the same time. Colonial landmarks surviving in the present city of 26,000 are the Antientist burial ground laid out in 1653, the Old Town Mill built about 1650 and rebuilt in 1712, the Joshua Hempsted House of 1678 (open to the public), and the lighthouse of 1909 on the spot where the original one was put up in 1760.
Benedict Arnold's raid of 6 September 1781 destroyed about 150 buildings, including 65 private dwellings, and did damage valued by a committee after the war at $486,000. The "Fire Lands," a 500,000-acre tract in the Western Reserve (now in Ohio), was used to repay Connecticut citizens for war losses in New London and other towns raided by the British.
New London was picked for this raid because the traitor Arnold knew the terrain from his childhood, Connecticut was a vital source of supplies for the Continental army, and New London was an important naval base. Some twenty privateers had been fitted out in the three years after the congressional resolution of March 1776 permitted their use against "enemies of these United Colonies." (Arnold destroyed about twelve ships; fifteen escaped upriver.) Another purpose of the New London raid was to divert Patriot strength from the force marching to Yorktown. The principal military action of the raid (and one of the last battles of the Revolution in the north) took place on the site of Fort Griswold State Park.
Benedict Arnold claimed that most of the destruction in New London was caused by accidental fires, which his troops made every effort to control. The Patriots accused him of viewing the scene from the old cemetery (on Hempstead Street north of Bulkeley Square) "with the apparent satisfaction of a Nero." The cemetery has about one hundred graves of Revolutionary War veterans.
Several other historic sites exist in today's New London. Fort Trumbull State Park, rebuilt by the United States Navy in the late 1830s, opened to the public in 2002. Located at 90 Walbach Street, it sits on the same grounds as the original Fort Trumbull made famous in Benedict Arnold's raid on Fort Griswold. Only one building remains from its Revolutionary War days: the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse, which is now located at Union Plaza in downtown New London. The historic building, referred to as "the traveling schoolhouse" by local historians for its many locales, is where the Patriot spy taught from March 1774 until July 1775, when he left his career as a teacher to become a lieutenant in the Seventh Connecticut Militia. In Williams Park, facing Broad Street, is a duplicate of the Nathan Hale statue located in New York City's City Hall Park. The Nathaniel Shaw House, 11 Blinman Street, was the home of the marine agent responsible for equipping the state's naval vessels, giving sailing orders, and overseeing disposal of privateersmen's prizes. The New London County Historical Society, founded in 1870, has occupied the Shaw House since 1907. The phone number is (860) 443-1209.
(New London Landmarks, 49 Washington Street, New London, Conn. 06320; phone: (860) 442-0003.)
Norwalk, Fairfield County. The site was bought from the Indians by Roger Ludlow and Daniel Patrick, then settled in 1651 by a small company from Hartford. Many legends are associated with the place. The home of Colonel Thomas Fitch, an officer of the Seven Years' War, is called the "Yankee Doodle House" because he is said to have inspired the song (see also FORT CRAILO under Page 54 | Top of ArticleNew York). A memorial fountain was erected by the DAR in memory of Nathan Hale, who obtained his schoolmaster disguise here before heading for Long Island on his fatal mission. The chair in which Governor Tryon sat on Grumman's Hill to watch his troops burn the town in July 1779 has been preserved. (This ended his Connecticut Coast raid, which started at New Haven on 5 July and passed through Fairfield and Greens Farms before reaching Norwalk on 11 July.) Otherwise, the landmarks of the Revolution have been obliterated in a modern industrial city of over eighty thousand people.
Norwich, head of the Thames River, New London County. Uncas the Mohegan, famous friend of the white settlers, defeated his Narragansett sachem counterpart 3 miles north of the present city in 1643. The original settlement of Europeans, established in 1659 and called Mohegan until 1662, was an important port during the eighteenth century. Benedict Arnold's home was here from his birth in 1741 until he sold the family property on the death of his parents twenty-one years later and went to live with his sister Hannah in New Haven. Norwich was the home of the Huntington family: Benjamin (1736–1800) was a member of the Continental Congress, a judge, and the first mayor of the town (1784–1796); Jabez (1719–1786) a Patriot leader and militia general during the Revolution; his son Jedediah (1743–1818) a general in the Continental Army; and another son, Ebenezer (1754–1834), a soldier during the Revolution and later a congressman. Samuel Huntington (1731–1796), in another line of the family, settled in Norwich after being admitted to the bar in 1758. He was prominent in the politics leading to the break with England, a member of the Continental Congress throughout the war, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and president of the Congress for almost two years (29 September 1779 to 6 July 1781). During the last ten years of his life he was governor of Connecticut.
Leffingwell Inn is a well-restored structure dating from 1675, opened as an inn by Norwich's most prominent founding father, Thomas Leffingwell, and operated during the Revolutionary era by Colonel Christopher Leffingwell. Still known as "Thomas Leffingwell's publique house" after Thomas himself ceased to be active, under Christopher's management it was an important center of Revolutionary politics. George Washington was entertained at the inn. The structure reflects the colonial practice of making a mansion by joining two small houses and adding ells. Leffingwell Inn is restored, furnished with seventeenth- and eighteenth-century pieces, and open to the public at odd hours, and it displays a number of rare items. It is at the junction of Connecticut Highways 2, 32, and 169 (Turnpike Exit 81), at 348 Washington Street (Society of the Founders of Norwich, Connecticut, P.O. Box 13, 405 Washington Street, Norwich, Conn. 06360; phone: (203) 889-9440.)
Norwichtown Green, center of the original settlement, has been designated a historic district. The Royal Mohegan Burial Ground, near the junction of Sachem and Washington Streeets, has the grave of Uncas, who died about 1682.
Putnam Cottage, Greenwich, Fairfield County. From this little house, which dates from about 1730, the sixty-one-year-old Israel Putnam is reputed to have made his legendary flight (26 February 1779) to escape capture by a patrol of British dragoons. Although the story should not be given much credence, Putnam Cottage is on the list of "Sites Also Noted" by the National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings in 1964. A highway marker on U.S. 1 at 243 Putnam Avenue in Greenwich is in front of the "cottage," formerly Knapp's Tavern. Under the care of the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter since 1906, it has two rooms restored in the style of the seventeenth century and various historical relics. The marker mentions the "famous ride down 'Put's Hill.'" The Post Road is cut through the rock at about the place where the general would have ridden down to the valley.
Putnam Memorial State Park
Putnam Memorial State Park, just north of Redding, Fairfield County. The encampment of several Continental brigades under the overall command of General Israel Putnam during the exceptionally severe winter of 1778 to 1779 is preserved in this 183-acre state park. The blockhouses and palisade have been restored, a museum has relics of "Connecticut's Valley Forge," and traces of original buildings are preserved. Recreational facilities include picnicking, pond fishing, and hiking.
"Old Put" rode from here to inspect outposts around Greenwich (see PUTNAM COTTAGE). The site of his legendary killing of a wolf in its den during the winter of 1742 to 1743 is in Wolf Den State Park, between Pomfret and Brooklyn, Windham County. The legendary hero of the Colonial Wars who became known in the Revolution as "Old Put" had moved into the latter area of Connecticut around 1740, when in his early twenties. The great-grandson of an English immigrant to Massachusetts (1634), he was a cousin of General Rufus Putnam and granduncle of the founder of Putnam's Sons publishers.
Ridgefield Battle Site
Ridgefield Battle Site, Fairfield County. Governor William Tryon's two thousand British and Tory raiders returning to their ships after burning Danbury on 26 April 1777 were blocked the next afternoon by a force of Continentals and militia under Generals Benedict Page 55 | Top of ArticleArnold and G. S. Silliman around Ridgefield (15 miles south of Danbury). General David Wooster nipped at Tryon's heels with two hundred militia, snapping up about forty prisoners before he was mortally wounded. About midafternoon the raiders hit the blocking position at Ridgefield and forced Arnold to withdraw. A highway marker on a little hill on Main Street south of the junction of the Danbury Road reads "Battle of Ridgefield, April 27, 1777. The Third and Chief Engagement Occurred on This Ridge."
The British camped a mile away. A Loyalist guided them the next morning around another delaying position established by Arnold on the route to Compo Beach. The raiders then debarked after conducting a four-hundred-man spoiling attack that disrupted an intended American assault.
Congress was finally forced to recognize Arnold's exceptional merit and promote him to major general. He had had one horse killed beneath him, another wounded, and had narrowly escaped capture. Wooster died five days after the action at Ridgefield and is buried in Danbury.
Still standing in Ridgefield is the Keeler Tavern, where the British emplaced a gun after driving Arnold from the barricade mentioned above. A cannonball remains embedded in a corner post of the tavern, fired by Tryon after the battle of Ridgefield. The house had been shelled by the British earlier, and a man climbing its stairs had a cannonball pass between his legs. "I'm killed! I'm a dead man!" he is reported to have shouted after falling to the foot of the stairs and insisting that both legs were gone. "As soon as he was undeceived," as Benson Lossing told the story after visiting the tavern in 1848, "he put them [the legs] in requisition, and fled, as fast as they could carry him…." The Keeler Tavern Preservation Society opened the Keeler Tavern as a museum in 1966. It is located on Main Street (Route 35) in Ridgefield.
(Ridgefield Library and Historical Association, 472 Main Street, Ridgefield, Conn. 06877; phone: (203) 438-2282. The Ridgefield Historical Society, The Scott House, 4 Sunset Lane, Ridgefield, Conn. 06877; phone: (203) 438-5821; website: www.ridgefieldhistoricalsociety.org.)
Stratford. The Captain David Judson House, 967 Academy Hill, is most interesting for the slave quarters in the basement. The house has been restored to how it probably looked in 1775, when the Judsons owned seven slaves. The house is owned by the Stratford Historical Society, which also operates the Catherine Bunnell Mitchell Museum next door. An exhibit in the latter explores slavery and the role of African American soldiers during the Revolution. There are also a number of documents relevant to the Revolutionary period and an account by the slave Jack Arabas, who successfully sued for his freedom after his owner reneged on a promise to free him if he joined the Continental army. The House and Museum are open from June through October on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 A.M. to 4 P.M. Take Exit 53 from the Merritt Parkway south to Main Street and then continue 5 miles to Academy Hill. Phone: (203) 378-0630.
(National Society of Colonial Dames in Connecticut, 211 Main Street, and the Wethersfield Historical Society, 150 Main Street; phone: (860) 529-7656. Both addresses are in Wethersfield, Conn. 06109.)
Trumbull House and War Office
Trumbull House and War Office, Lebanon, New London County. Jonathan Trumbull the Elder (1710–1785) became governor of Connecticut in 1769 and held this office until his voluntary retirement after the Revolution, a year before his death. He was the only governor on the Patriot side when the Revolution started. Connecticut being the principle source of food, clothing, and munitions for Washington's army, Trumbull's most important activity was managing this support. More than 1,200 meetings of the Connecticut Council of Safety were held in the converted Trumbull store next to his home, many of them pertaining to supply. The appellation "Brother Jonathan," which the British used as early as March 1776 to designate Americans, may have originated from Washington's alleged remark "We must consult Brother Jonathan" when faced with a particularly tough problem; he would have been referring to the elder Jonathan Trumbull. (The latter's son and namesake was paymaster general of the Northern Department while his brother Joseph was commissary general of the army.)
The sites are marked on Lebanon Commons. Trumbull's house, built by his father in 1740, is the property of the DAR. The store, built probably in 1732, was restored in 1891 when acquired by the Sons of the American Revolution. Both buildings have been moved, and the "War Office" is no longer next to the Trumbull home, but diagonally across the green.
(Lebanon Historical Society, 856 Trumbull Highway, on the Historic Lebanon Green, P.O. Box 151, Lebanon, Conn. 06249; phone: (860) 642-6579.)
Webb Deane Stevens Museum
Webb Deane Stevens Museum, 211 Main Street, Wethersfield, Hartford County. The historic Wethersfield Conference on 21 to 22 May 1781 between Washington and Rochambeau in the Webb House, a handsome old frame house, has long been accepted as laying the strategic groundwork for the triumph at Yorktown. "Many secondary accounts erroneously state that at the Wethersfield conference (22 May 1781) Washington was told by the French that Admiral de Grasse was definitely coming north to cooperate with the allies …," writes Don Higginbotham in The War of American Independence (1971). "Though Page 56 | Top of ArticleRochambeau did have advance notice of de Grasse's plans, he felt obliged by his instructions not to disclose the information at that time…. Several very recent works, failing to consult Fitzpatrick or Freeman on this point, repeat the mistake" (p. 388 n50).
The Joseph Webb House was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1961. (Also in Wethersfield is the Buttolph-Williams House of 1692.)
Readers who wish to corroborate this question for themselves can check the two well-known sources cited by Higginbotham: Fitzpatrick, ed., Writings of Washington, XX, pp. 103-104, and D. S. Freeman, Washington, V, p. 296 n87.
There is no historical doubt as of this writing that Washington spent several days in May 1781 in the Webb House. He arrived on 19 May, rode to Hartford on 21 May to meet Count Rochambeau and returned with him to the Webb House, and the next day had a conference that broadly outlined the plans for a combined Franco-American offensive against New York City. Virginia figured in the discussion only in that Washington hoped British troops there would ease their pressure on Lafayette if weakened by detachments sent to defend New York.
The house built by Joseph Webb in 1752, meanwhile, is a well-preserved two-story structure of considerable architectural interest. Its setting is enhanced by the broad street of old trees and old homes on which it stands today. One of these is the home of Silas Deane, America's first diplomat abroad; south of the Webb House, it was built in 1776.
The other namesake house was built in 1788 by Isaac Stevens for his bride, Sarah Wright. The Milford Cemetery, just off Cherry Street near the center of Milford, was established in 1642. This historic cemetery contains the graves of several African American Revolutionary War soldiers. Even more unusual, there is a plaque honoring these soldiers on the town green.
Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3486500013