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Setting of the Book My Brother Sam is Dead  

My Brother Sam is Dead takes place in Redding, Connecticut.

Where is Redding, Connecticut?

Redding, Connecticut is located in Southwest Connecticut. It's size is 31.5 square miles, about five miles from north to south, roughly seven miles from east to west. It encompasses 4.9% of Fairfield County.

Tim Meeker and his family live on Redding Ridge at the corner of Black Rock Turnpike, Church Hill Road and Cross Highway. This is also the location of the Anglican Church, William Heron, Jerry Sanford, Stephen Betts and General Parsons.

This is how Redding Ridge looks today:

This house is where Lt. Betts was located, (in the novel) to the right of this house would be Meeker's Tavern.

In the novel, the Anglican Church is to the left, Meeker's Tavern to the right. From this perspective you're looking North toward Jerry Sanford's farm.

Located in the Anglican Church's burial grounds is William Heron's Gravestone.


As shown in the map above, the Presbyterian Church is West of Meeker's Tavern. This is what the church looks like today:

Also on the map is Colonel John Read's house, this is what the house looks like:

This is the field Tim raced across after stealing the Brown Bess back from Sam in the novel:

Sam's Encampment is known as Putnam Memorial State Park today.

Every Winter there is a history walk to commomorate the encampments at Redding. There were three camps in Redding, two of which have been preserved which is nothing short of amazing...there are only about 5 preserved Revolutionary War encampments in the whole Country and we have 2 of them!

Background information on Redding, Connecticut

Redding, Connecticut was first settled in the early 1700's, prior to that approximately half of Redding was a part of Fairfield, Connecticut.

The above map shows Fairfield's boundary stretching from Long Island Sound north to Danbury.

In 1709, Fairfield surveyed it's northern boundary and it was found that it ended at a point best described using present day roads: Old Redding Rd., Diamond Hill Rd., Great Pasture Rd., Cross Highway, and Church Hill Rd. These roads would be the approximate northern boundary of the Fairfield long lots in 1709. Land north of these roads was the "country lands between Fairfield and Danbury" or oblong.]

Basically the setting for My Brother Sam is Dead is at or on this northern boundary line. This was likely done purposely by the authors as it allowed them to highlight the split loyalties in that timeframe. Redding Ridge was long considered a Loyalist settlement because from the very beginning it was settled by families that preferred the ideals of the Anglican Church.

John Read settled in the Oblong shortly after Fairfield's northern boundaries were surveyed. Several others settled in the Oblong prior to 1720, and all are believed to have been Anglicans. To make a very long and complicated story short, in the 1720's John Read and the other settlers were joined by new settlers and many of them were Presbyterians. Together these groups formed a township and called it "Reading" in honor of John Read.

When Tim Meeker states in the novel that Redding was "Divided in two parts" he is absolutely correct. Redding truly was divided in two parts, it had been since the very beginnning:

The Presbyterians built their church in Redding Center and The Anglicans built theirs on Redding Ridge.

There was no ill-will between the groups prior to the Revolution, in fact, the Presbyterians issued the following statement just prior to the completion of their meeting house:

"all those persons that inhabit or hereafter may inhabit in this parish, which profess themselves to be of the Church of England, shall have free liberty to come into this meeting house and attend the public worship of God according to the articles of Divines at Saybrook, and established by the laws of this Government…"

In a May of 1772 report by Anglican minister, John Beach, he notes:

"…the Church of England people are increasing more than 20 to 1, and what is infinitely more pleasing, many of them are remarkable for piety and virtue; and the Independents (Presbyterians) here are more knowing in matters of religion, than those who live at a distance from the Church. We live in harmony and peace with each other, and the rising generation of Independents seem to be entirely free from every pique and prejudice against the Church."

So heading into the Revolutionary period, members of the Presbyterians Church, and the Anglican Church were on opposite ends of the Religious spectrum in terms of ideologies, but for the most part, they got along. It was rather unique to have two Religious ideologies residing in the same town, the fact that they lived in "peace and harmony" is quite amazing. Having two churches in the same town, had additional benefits: it increased the potential settlers it could attract, and it allowed families the opportunity to switch allegiances, and remain in Redding. In most Connecticut towns, this was not possible. Those banished from the church or simply wishing to leave the church were forced to relocate to a new community.

The Revolutionary War erased "peace and harmony" and replaced it with "confusion and violence".

The Collier's make us aware of the confusion in Chapter 2:

Betsy Read: "Timmy are you on your father's side or Sam's?

Tim: "I wished she hadn't asked me that question. I didn't want to answer it ; in fact, I didn't know how to answer it. 'I don't understand what it's all about,' I said."

Sam: "It's simple, either we're going to be free or we're not."

Betsy: "It isn't that simple, Sam. There's more to it."

There was more to it as Betsy correctly states- religious affiliation weighed heavily on colonists positions on the war, especially in 1775 Redding, Connecticut.

It's important to understand that the Meeker's religious beliefs made them "Loyalists" by default. The Anglican Church was the Church of England, their preachers warned of rebellious behavior and prayed for the health and well being of the King and his Parliament each and every sermon. Conversely, Congregational ministers thundered anti-British tirades from their pulpits week after week, praying for the health and well-being of the troops and their generals. This religious influence resulted in many Anglicans siding with England and many Congregationalists siding with America.

The Rev. John Beach was continually harassed and in some cases threatened because he continued to pray for the health and well-being of the King and Parliment, which was customary for Anglican preachers of the time period. He writes:

"For some time past, I have not been without fear of being abused by a lawless set of men who style themselves the Sons of Liberty, for no other reason than that of endeavoring to cherish in my people a quiet submission to the civil government… "

Sam Meeker is unique in that he and his family are Anglican yet he is siding with the rebel cause. He has been influenced by views of those at his college- Yale. At that time period there were very few colleges in New England, and the few that did exist were more theologically based. The religion of choice at these colleges was Presbyterian. Presbyterians were generally pro-rebellion and thus students received information that promoted the benefits of a split with England via rebellious acts.

What is Droving? It is the Act of Driving Cattle to Market

A very important aspect of the story is Tim and Life Meeker's cattle drive to Verplancks.

Droving was very much a part of colonial america and Connecticut was very much a cattle rich state that became known as the Provision State because of its role in the American Revolution.

"Agriculture produced for market is commercial agriculture. During the seventeenth century Connecticut had marketed its surplus overland to Boston. In the eighteenth century with the settlement of new towns and more land clearing, new and better roads were built. It was now possible to trade with New York via a host of new water routes. Connecticut farmers bred a sturdy oxen which pulled in pairs either ploughs or two-wheeled carts for taking produce to points for shipping. Draft oxen usually weighed six hundred pounds but they were bred for weights up to sixteen hundred pounds to pull carts loaded with beef. "

A Map of Tim and Life's Cattle Route shown with yellow stars.

Redding and the Revolution

Early Militias
As early as 1739, a company or "train band" of sixty-four soldiers and three officers existed in Redding. "Train bands" were common in colonial times, they were local militias formed for the protection of town residents, generally they served as a defense from Indian attacks.

These local train bands were formally organized into regiments via an October, 1739 Act that stated: "…for the better regulating the Militia of this Colony, and putting it in a more ready posture for the Defense of the Same…all military companies in this Colony shall be formed into regiments…"

Redding being a part of Fairfield belonged to the "Fourth Regiment Connecticut Militia".

By May, 1754, there were two separate companies of militia in Redding - One (West militia) commanded by members of the Congregational society at Redding Center, the other (East militia) commanded by members of the Anglican society at Redding Ridge.

West Militia Officers, 1754: Samuel Sanford, Captain; Daniel Hull, Lieutenant; John Read, Ensign.

East Militia Officers, 1754: Joshua Hall, Captain; James Morgan, Lieutenant; Daniel Lyon, Ensign.

Members of both companies served with British troops in the French and Indian War (Seven Year War). Redding and the War, 1775-1777 After the battles in Lexington and Concord, members of both militia's (East & West) again served together with The 10th Company, 5th Connecticut Regiment which joined other colonial militias for the Invasion of Canada in June/July 1775.

Zalmon Read, Ezekiel Sanford, David Peet and Benjamin Nichols appear as officers in William E. Grumman's history, titled Revolutionary Soldiers of Redding, Connecticut. Most of Redding soldiers returned in November of that same year, though some did remain during the siege of Montreal that winter.

The Redding Militia's were again called to duty in March of 1776. Orders to assemble and march to New York City were issued for the Battle of Long Island, but this time, the Anglican East Company militia, mutinied and refused to assemble. In response, the Connecticut General Assembly issued arrest warrants for the militia's officers (Daniel Hill, Peter Lyon, Samuel Hawley) causing some East Company members to flee to the enemy for refuge.

Redding's West Company militia did assemble, march and fight in the Battle of Long Island, the Battle of Fort Washington and the Battle of White Plains in 1776.

The first action of the town in regard to the war is found in the records of a town meeting held on April 2, 1777, when a committee was appointed "to hire a number of soldiers to serve in the Continental Army." It was also voted that the "sum or sums said committee promise to or do pay to those soldiers…be paid by town rates, and the Selectmen are ordered to and desired to make a rate to collect the money." In the same meeting a committee was also appointed "to take care of the families of those soldiers that are in service of their country." A month later evidence of the war's affect on town officials was recorded in a May 5, 1777 meeting appointing "David Jackson, Seth Sanford, Thaddeus Benedict, and John Gray as selectmen" to take the place of Stephen Betts and James Rogers who had been taken prisoner by the British during their march through Redding en route to Danbury. Betts and Rogers were later released in September of 1777.

British Raid of Danbury, 1777
The British Army's march through Redding Ridge is the only direct contact Redding residents had with British troops in the Revolution. It created much excitement and afforded the Collier's an opportunity to bring that excitement to life in my brother Sam is dead. Twenty-four vessels carrying around 1,550 regular British troops and some 300 Loyalist militiamen from "Browne's Provincial Corps", many of whom were originally from Connecticut, arrived on the shores of Compo Beach in Westport, Connecticut on April 25, 1777. Their mission: destroy the rebel military supply depot at Danbury, Connecticut.

Lord Howe, the commander of the British troops, stationed at New York City, had long meditated an attack on Connecticut and news of provisions being stored at Danbury provided the incentive he desired. Howe chose William Tryon, the deposed British governor of New York, as Commander and two military men: Brigadier General James Agnew, second in command and Brigadier General Sir William Erskine as third in command for the expedition.

Tryon had been Governor of New York up until the Revolution and was said to have been consumed with "an inveterate hatred and thirst for revenge" on the rebel Yankees. He had a special grudge against Connecticut, the sturdy little colony that had thwarted him in a variety of ways: "Her horseman had scattered organs of revolutionary propaganda through the streets of New York; her "Sons of Liberty" had plotted against him even in his own city; treated with contempt his proclamations, using them as specimens of the governor's pleasant humor."

Tryon had the further merit of being intimately acquainted with the towns and landscape of Connecticut. He had been as far inland as Litchfield, had probably visited Danbury, and had been dined and feted at Norwalk, Fairfield, and New Haven. He seems to have acted as a *guide to the expedition while giving **Agnew and Erskine the responsibility of tactical operations.

*Tryon was aided by local Tories who had fled from the area and joined the British army. The locals intimate knowledge of the roadways and landscape in and around Southwestern Connecticut was a vital asset to the British troops.

**Agnew was injured at some point during the weekend and Erskine took over as second in command.; He was very capable in that role. Earlier that winter, Erskine had led a foraging expedition to New Jersey in which "he routed the rebels with great slaughter; he took no prisoners."

Via 40 or 50 flatboats the troops disembarked at Compo between five and six in the afternoon, and that same evening marched to Fairfield, about seven miles distant, where they encamped for the night.

News that the British had landed at Compo, encamped at Fairfield, and would march through Redding the next day, was conveyed to the residents at an early hour, and occasioned the greatest consternation and excitement. Money and valuables were hastily secreted in wells and other places of concealment; horses and cattle were driven into the forests, and the inhabitants along the enemy's probable route held themselves in readiness for instant flight.

On receiving intelligence of the landing at Compo, Captain Zalmon Read mustered his company of militia, and forthwith marched to intercept the invaders. At a place called Couch's Rock, in Weston, Connecticut, they came suddenly upon a British flanking company and were taken as prisoners. Town selectman, James Rogers, Timothy Parsons, Russell Bartlett and 13 year old, Jacob Patchen were among the prisoners. In Charles Burr Todd's History of Redding, Todd relates that:

"Timothy Parsons, had a fine musket which he particularly valued; this a British soldier took, and dashed to pieces on the stones, saying it should waste no more rebel bullets."

Meanwhile, Colonel Joseph Platt Cooke, commander of the 16th militia regiment in Danbury, had followed General Gold S. Silliman's instructions and sent all available men from Danbury to Fairfield. Silliman mistakenly assumed that the British intended to attack Fairfield. Other troops were sent toward the Hudson River, in response to a number of ships the British had strategically positioned there to confuse the American generals. This left the Military Depot at Danbury in a vulnerable state.

On the morning of the 26th, at a very seasonable hour (11am-12 noon), the British troops arrived and halted at Redding Ridge. During the halt the main body of the troops remained under arms on the green in front of the Anglican Church. Tryon, Agnew, and Erskine were invited into Esquire William Heron's home (the first house south of the Christ Church Episcopal, no longer in existence). Here they were reported to have been "hospitably entertained with cake, wine, and it is presumed, many hopeful prognostications of the speedy collapse of the rebellion."

Shortly after their meeting, a file of soldiers entered the house of Lieutenant Stephen Betts, a prominent patriot who lived across the street from the church and seized him. Daniel Sanford, his son, Jeremiah Sanford (19 years old), and 16 year old, Benjamin Lines, met a like fate. Three of Redding's loyalists joined British Troops on this day: Samuel Hawley, James Gray, and Joseph Lyon. Lyon had been in hiding for 33 days.

As the army prepared to resume its march north, a horseman was observed spurring rapidly down *Couch Hill Road (present day- Sunset Hill Road) toward them. He was within musket shot before discovering their presence and though he turned to fly when he saw their red coats, he was shot, and severely wounded in the attempt. He proved to be a messenger from Colonel Cooke in Danbury, bearing dispatches to General Silliman. His name was Lambert Lockwood. Tryon had formerly known him in Norwalk, where Lockwood had rendered him a service, and Tryon seems to have acted on this occasion with some kindness, as he released him on parole, and allowed him to be taken into a house so his wounds could be dressed.

*Bethel, CT historians have the same narrative occurring on Hoyt's Hill in Bethel. Luther Holcolm is the unfortunate horseman in Bethel's rendition of the story. Whomever the horseman actually was he was likely carrying an S.O.S. from Cooke; Danbury was in grave danger.

All in all, the British troops spent one to two hours on Redding Ridge before resuming their march to Danbury with the **Redding militiamen captured in Weston, Patriots Stephen Betts, Daniel Sanford, Jeremiah Sanford and a non-combatant (B. Lines) captured in Redding. One British soldier, Bernard Keeler, deserted at Redding Ridge and lived in town until his death in 1827.

**Betts, Bartlett, Lines, Patchen, and most of the Redding militiamen would all eventually return to Redding. Daniel Sanford, Jeremiah Sanford, Daniel Chapman, and David Fairchild died in captivity while being held in the "sugar houses" of New York, where sanitation was deplorable and disease was rampant.

As the British marched toward Danbury, the remaining patriots of Redding anxiously awaited the approach of the Patriot troops in pursuit. At length they came in view, marching wearily, in sodden, disordered ranks, a small army of five hundred men and boys, led by Brigadier General Silliman. They were comprised of soldiers from the companies of Colonel Lamb's battalion of artillery, with three rusty cannon, a field-piece, part of the artillery company of Fairfield, and sixty Continentals; the rest were an untrained assemblage, chiefly old men and boys. It was eight o'clock in the evening when the troops arrived at Redding Ridge-an evening as disagreeable as a northeast rainstorm with its attendant darkness could make it. Here the troops halted an hour for rest and refreshment. At the expiration of that time a bugle was heard from far down the turnpike; then the tramp of horsemen was heard and presently Major General Wooster and Brigadier General Arnold, dashed into the village of Redding Ridge.

On hearing that the British were so far ahead, it is said that Arnold became so enraged that he could scarcely keep his seat, and his terrible oaths fell on his auditor's ears like thunder claps. Wooster at once assumed command, and the column moved forward through the muddy and heavily rutted roadway as far as Bethel, where it halted for the night.

At Danbury, but three miles distant, Tryon's force was at rest, and might have been annihilated by a determined effort, but the Continental command was hampered by the weather conditions, heavily rutted roadways and fatigue.

Benedict Arnold to McDougall, West Redding, April 27th, 1777, 10am:

"Last night at half past eleven, General Wooster, General Silliman and myself with six hundred militia arrived at Bethel, *eight miles from Danbury. The excessive heavy rains rendered their arms useless, and many of the troops were much fatigued having marched thirty miles in the course of the day without refreshment."

*distances from Danbury vary from 2.5 miles to 8 miles, depending on who is reporting back to their superiors. In this case Arnold incorrectly states they were 8 miles from Danbury; They were within 3 miles of Danbury, at the intersection of Elizabeth Street and Blackman Avenue.

The British had reached Danbury at approximately 5:00 pm and driven off the Patriots who had been attempting to remove supplies. Later that evening, seven patriot defenders who had stayed behind opened fire on British troops from a house in town owned by Major Daniel Starr, among the patriots was "Ned", a slave of Redding's Samuel Smith. Two companies of British regulars charged and put the dwelling to the torch killing all the men inside.

*This was the story behind the beheading of Ned in My Brother Sam is Dead.

Before their departure early the next morning, the British had destroyed much of the Rebel's depot: barrels of pork and beef, barrels of flour, bushels of grain, hogsheads of rum and wine, thousands of shoes, stockings and tents among other supplies. Provisions the Continental troops would long for come the winter of 1778-79.

Following the events of April 26th and 27th, Redding played a supporting role to the Continental army's efforts in the War of Independence.

May 8, 1778, Captain Zalmon Read and Asahel Fitch were appointed to provide "shirts, shoes, stockings and other articles of clothing for the Continental soldiers."

December 17, 1778, another committee was appointed to care for the families of the following soldiers from Redding: Nathan Coley, Stephen Meeker, Elias Bixby, Jeremiah Sherwood, Samuel Remong. These soldiers were among General Israel Putnam's encampment in Redding.

Putnam's Winter Encampment
General Israel Putnam's division of the Continental Army encamped in Redding in the winter of 1778-1779. This division was comprised of General Poor's brigade of New Hampshire troops under Brig. General Enoch Poor, a Canadian Regiment led by Col. Moses Hazen, and two brigades of Connecticut troops: 2nd Brigade Connecticut Line regiments commanded by Brig. General Jedediah Huntington, and the 1st Brigade Connecticut Line regiments commanded by Brig. General Samuel H. Parsons. This division had been operating along the Hudson (Eastern New York) during the fall, and as winter approached it was decided that it should go into winter quarters at Redding, as from this position it could support the important fortress of West Point in case of attack, intimidate the Cowboys and Skinners of Westchester County, and cover lands adjacent to Long Island Sound. Another major reason was to protect the Danbury supply depot, which had been burned by the British the year before but resurrected to keep supplies going to Washington's army.

Colonel Aaron Burr, one of General Putnam's aides and a frequent visitor to Redding, had suggested that Putnam look over the area for a future winter encampment during a summer visit to General Heath's Brigade in Danbury. Putnam found the topography and location ideal. Three camp locations were marked and later prepped by artificers and surveyors under the direction of the Quartermaster staff: the first in the northeast part of Lonetown, near the Bethel line, on land owned by John Read, 2nd (now Putnam Park). The second was about a mile and a half west of the first camp, between Limekiln Rd. and Gallows Hill in the vicinity of present day Whortleberry Rd. & Costa Lane. The third camp was in West Redding, on a ridge about a quarter of a mile north of West Redding Station (vicinity of present day Deer Spring Drive & Old Lantern Road).

The main camp, which is now known as Putnam Memorial State Park, was laid out with admirable judgement, at the foot of rocky bluffs which fenced in the western valley of the Little River. 116 huts were erected to form an avenue nearly a quarter mile in length, and several yards in width. At the west end of the camp was a mountain brook, which furnished a plentiful supply of water; near the brook a forge was said to have been erected. The second and third camps, were both laid out on the southerly slopes of hills with streams of running water at their base.

Each of the camps were strategically positioned to defend main highways in and out of town: Danbury to Fairfield; Danbury to Norwalk; Redding to Danbury and points north (stage coach route).

As to the exact location of Putnam's headquarters, authorities differ, but all agree in placing it on Umpawaug Hill. Some of Putnam's officers were quartered in a house later owned by *Samuel Gold (Limekiln Rd.); others in a house later occupied by *Sherlock Todd (also on Limekiln Rd). General Parsons' headquarters were at Stephen Betts Tavern on Redding Ridge.

*Samuel Gold's and Sherlock Todd's house locations can be found on Beers 1867 map of Redding. They were not the owners during the winter of 1778-79. I use their names because it gives readers an opportunity to view the locations on a published map.

The troops went into winter quarters at Redding in no pleasant humor, and almost in the spirit of insubordination. This was particularly the case with the **Connecticut troops. They had endured privations that many men would have sunk under: the horrors of battle, the weariness of the march, cold, hunger, and nakedness. What was worse, they had been paid in the depreciated currency of the times, which had scarcely any purchasing power, and their families at home were reduced to the lowest extremity of want and wretchedness.

[**"It has been represented to me that the troops of Connecticut are in great want of Shirts, Stockings and Shoes. This leads me to inquire of you whether they have not received their proportion of these Articles in common with the rest of the Army. The troops in general have obtained orders for a Shirt and pair of Stockings per man and a pair of Shoes to each that wanted. If the Connecticut Troops have not been furnished … you will on receiving proper Returns for that purpose supply them in conformity to this Rule." -- George Washington to Deputy Clothier Gen. George Measam, Jan. 8, 1779]

The frustrations caused by the deprivations brought to a head the attempted mutiny on the morning of December 30th at Huntington's camp. The troops had decided on the bold resolve of marching to Hartford, and airing their grievances in person to the Legislature then sitting. The two brigades were plotting their escape when the threat of troop desertion was brought to Putnam's attention. He, with his usual intrepidity and decision of character, threw himself upon his horse and dashed down the road leading to his camps, never slacking rein until he drew up in the presence of the disaffected troops.

"My brave lads," he cried, "whither are you going? Do you intend to desert your officers, and invite the enemy to follow you into the country? Whose cause have you been fighting and suffering so long in-is it not your own? Have you no property, no parents, wives, children? You have behaved like men so far-all the world is full of your praises, and posterity will stand astonished at your deeds; but not if you spoil it all at last. Don't you consider how much the country is distressed by the war, and that your officers have not been any better paid than yourselves? But we all expect better times, and that the country will do us ample justice. Let us all stand by one another then, and fight it out like brave soldiers. Think what a shame it would be for Connecticut men to run away from their officers."

When he had finished this stirring speech, he directed the acting Major of Brigades to give the word for them to march to their regimental parades, and lodge arms, which was done; one soldier only, a ringleader in the affair, was confined to the guard house, from which he attempted to escape, but was shot dead by the sentinel on duty- himself one of the mutineers. Thus ended the affair.

In January, Private Joseph P. Martin related two more uprisings in his camp journal, both were thwarted by regimental officers, but indicate some discontent among the troops still lingered. After that many of the Connecticut troops were placed on patrols at Horseneck, Stamford and Norwalk. Some were sent over to "no-man's land" in Westchester County and several hundred troops were sent to New London for guard duty and the construction of Fort Griswold.

Executions at Gallows Hill
Putnam was no stranger to deserters and spies. Nothing had so much annoyed Putnam and his officers during the campaigns of the preceding summer on the Hudson than the desertions which had thinned his ranks, and the Tory spies, who frequented his camps, and forthwith conveyed the information thus gathered to the enemy. To put a stop to this it had been determined that the next offender of either sort (deserter or spy) captured should suffer death as an example.

The opportunity to implement this determination soon arrived. Scouts from Putnam's outposts in Westchester County captured a man lurking within their lines, and as he could give no satisfactory account of himself, he was at once hauled over the borders and into the presence of the Commander-in-Chief. In answer to the commanders queries, the prisoner said that his name was Jones, that he was a Welshman by birth, and had settled in Ridgefield a few years before the war commenced; that he had never faltered in his allegiance to the King, and that at the outbreak of the hostilities he had fled to the British army, and had been made a butcher in the camp; a few weeks before, he had been sent into Westchester County to buy beef for the army, and was in the process of carrying out those orders at the present. He was remanded to the guard house, court-martialed and at once ordered for trial. Putnam had his first example.

On Feb. 4, 1779, Edward Jones was tried at a General Court Martial for going to and serving the enemy, and coming out as a spy. He was found guilty of each and every charge exhibited against him, and according to Law and the Usage's of Nations was sentenced to suffer Death: "The General approves the sentence and orders it to be put in execution between the hours of ten and eleven A.M. by hanging him by the neck till he be dead."

Two days after another General Court Martial was held for a similar offence: on Feb. 6, 1779, John Smith of the 1st Connecticut Regiment, was tried at a General Court Martial for desertion and attempting to go to the enemy, found guilty, and further persisting in saying that he will go to the enemy if ever he has an opportunity. "The General approves the sentence and orders that it be put in execution between the hours of ten and twelve A.M. for him to be shot to death"

General Putnam having two prisoners under the sentence of death determined to execute them both at once, or as he expressed it, "to make a double job of it," and at the same time make the spectacle as terrible and impressive as the circumstances demanded.

The scene which took place at the execution of these men on February 16 was described as shocking and bloody, it occurred on a lofty hill (known to this day as Gallows Hill) dominating the valley between the three camps. The instrument of Edward Jones' death was erected approximately twenty feet from the ground atop the hill's highest pinnacle. Jones was ordered to ascend the ladder, with the rope around his neck and attached to the cross beam of the gallows. When he had reached the top rung General Putnam ordered him to jump from the ladder.

'No General Putnam,' said Jones, 'I am innocent of the crime laid to my charge; I shall not do it.'

Putnam drawing his sword, compelled the hangmen at sword's point, that his orders be obeyed and if Jones would not jump, that the ladder be over-turned to complete the act. It was and he perished.

The soldier that was to be shot for desertion was but a youth of sixteen or seventeen years of age. The Rev. Nathaniel Bartlett, who was pastor of the Congregational Church in Redding for a period of fifty years, officiated as chaplain to the encampment during that winter, and was present at the execution. He interceded with General Putnam to defer the execution of Smith until Washington could be consulted- for reason the offender was a youth; but the commander assured him that a reprieve could not be granted.

John Smith was described as "extremely weak and fainting" as he was led by Poor's Brigade Chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Evans, approximately 200 yards from the gallows to the place he was to be shot. Putnam gave the order and three balls were shot through his breast: he fell on his face, but immediately turned over on his back; a soldier then advanced, and putting the muzzle of his gun near the convulsive body of the youth, discharged its contents into his forehead. The body was then placed in a coffin; the final discharge had been fired so near to the body that it had set the boy's clothing on fire, and continued burning while each and every soldier present was ordered to march past the coffin and observe Smith's mangled remains; an officer with a drawn sword stood by to ensure they complied.

It was indeed a grisly scene, and many have questioned the accuracy of the accounts published about it because it seems almost too ghastly. But it should be said that: boldness, firmness, promptness, decisiveness- were the chief elements of General Israel Putnam's character, and at this particular crisis all were needed. There was disaffection and insubordination in the army, as has been noted. Desertions were frequent, and spying by the Tories was almost openly practiced. To put a stop to these practices it was vitally necessary to the safety of the army, to see that these sentences were carried into effect.

Theft of Cattle & Livestock
The journals of private Joseph Plumb Martin (stationed with the 8th Connecticut in Parsons' middle camp) shows the desperate lack of food and poor weather conditions endured by the troops throughout January:

"We settled in our winter quarters at the commencement of the new year and went on in our old Continental Line of starving and freezing. We now and then got a little bad bread and salt beef (I believe chiefly horse-beef for it was generally thought to be such at the time). The month of January was very stormy, a good deal of snow fell, and in such weather it was mere chance if we got anything at all to eat."

Given the conditions, it is difficult to blame the soldiers that took matters into their own hands and ventured out of camp in search of provisions. The citizens of Redding, did not see things this way, those who initially felt quite honored by the selection of their town for the army's winter quarters, soon grew tired of soldiers looting their livestock. The soldiers position was that they were the one's fighting the country's battles and plundering the neighboring farms was within their rights as men of war. To them a well-stocked poultry yard, a pen of fat porkers or field of healthy heifers offered irresistible cuisine when compared to the horse-beef they were being offered back at camp. After a time, however, the wary farmers foiled the looters by storing their livestock over night in the cellars of their houses and in other secure places.

This was an issue throughout the war and the letter below shows that George Washington was aware of it. It also highlights why looting was difficult to stop, as looters could claim they had confiscated the provisions because they were in danger of being sold to the British.

To Major General Israel Putnam, From George Washington, Philadelphia, December 26, 1778. "I have not a Copy of your instructions with me, but if my memory serves me, I was as full in my directions respecting the conduct of Officers who shall be sent upon the lines as I possibly can be. The Officer must determine from all circumstances, whether Cattle or any species of provision found near the lines are in danger of falling into the hands of the Enemy, or are carried there with an intent to supply them. If it is thought necessary to bring them off, they must be reported and disposed of as directed by your instructions. I was very particular upon that Head, because I know that great Acts of Injustice have been committed by Officers, under pretence that provision and other kinds of property were intended for the Use of the Enemy. I would recommend the bringing off as much Forage as possible but I would not advise the destruction of what we cannot remove. I think your plan of sending out a large party under the command of a Field Officer and making detachments from thence, a good one; and if you and General McDougall can agree upon a cooperation of your parties I think many advantages will result from the measure. You may agree upon the mode of effecting this, between yourselves."

Troops Leave Redding
The troops left Putnam's encampment in stages, Colonel Hazen's Canadian regiment were detached from the New Hampshire brigade and ordered to Springfield, MA; they left on March 27th. The New Hampshire regiments also left on March 27th for their new assignments in the Hudson Highlands. Huntington's 2nd Connecticut Brigade left for Peekskill right after May 1st , and Parsons' 1st Connecticut Brigade was the last to depart on or about May 27th … also bound for duty at the Highlands.

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