Putnam Memorial State Park - Redding

Putnam Park CT
Putnam Park CT

Connecticut State has had many nicknames - The Nutmeg State, The Constitution State, ...The Provision State. The latter name is applied with respect to the fact that Connecticut, a state since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, supplied more food and cannons to The Continental Army than any other in The Revolutionary War.

While CT does not boast of decisive battlegrounds, its supply lines and warehouses were necessary to defend. William Tryon The Tyrant led an invasion of Connecticut in Fairfield County that resulted in the successful destruction of the Danbury army supply depot. The following year General Putnam established an encampment in Redding along Black Rock Turnpike - the route Tryon had previously used.

This camp was partially to meant to deter any additional raids on the rebuilt supply depot. Today, Putnam Memorial State Park preserves the site of this encampment. It is the oldest state park in Connecticut by virtue of the fact that it was named as a State Memorial and preserved before the existence of the CT State Park System.

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Come Holy Spirit Come!
Let thy bright beams a - rise;
Despel the sorrow from our minds,
the darkness from out eyes.
Lebanon - S. Mather 
From a songbook of Colonial Music

Fireback Row - Putnam Park - Redding CT
Fireback Row - Putnam Park - Redding CT
I visited Putnam State Park on a supremely beautiful Sunday morning and it was a surprise delight. The ride out on Black Rock turnpike is always a pleasure - no matter the season. Perhaps I should have visited in the winter to get the full historic effect - it is, after all, a memorial to a winter encampment. But, the park is more than historic site, it has walking trails, picnic areas, a youth camp, a museum, and a separate visitors center.

The encampment here was employed for a winter season between 1778-1779. General Poor's New Hampsire Brigade and Colonel Moss Hazen's 2nd Canadian Regiment with a combined force of 1300 camped at the site of the park. Two nearby camps housed The Connecticut Brigades totalling eight regiments. Two rows of rock piles describe where the huts once stood. These are the remains of the firebacks - the rear part of a fireplace.

The memorial museum is not to miss. I had arrived early on a Sunday and thought that the building would not be open, but to my surprise it was. The volunteer manning the museum was a source of extraordinary energy, enthusiasm, pleasure, and facts of history. I talked with gentleman for a half hour. He showed me each artifact in sequence. The man's two favorite items on display are a lock from the 1600's and and an arrowhead several thousand years old. My favorite items include: A dragoon helmet - one of only two original still in existence from the Revolutionary period, and the display of flax linen production (I have a textile science minor degree - so I'm a big textile geek).

The gentleman in the museum filled me in on the revolutionary war history of the whole area including the March of Tryon The Tyrant:

A recreation of a typical hut at Putnam State Park
A recreation of a typical hut at Putnam State Park
William Tryon was the deposed governor of New York Colony. His reputation is that of a viscous and despicable man who captured young boys and sent them to die in the prison ships in NY Harbor - for which there is a monument at a Brooklyn park.

General Tryon landed with 2000 red coats at Compo Beach in Westport. He marched them up Old Redding Road from Fairfield and then up Black Rock Turnpike towards Danbury. On the third day they reached Danbury and torched the supply depot there. Along the return trip to Compo his rear guard was attacked by General Benedict Arnold and General Wooster at Ridgefield. The British took many casualties. There was a second attack which was more devastating, but also resulted in the death of General Wooster. General Arnold's horse was also shot out from beneath him. In the end General Tryon retreated back to New York City. He returned to the Connecticut shoreline a number of times to pillage and generally disgrace The Connecticut rebels.

Isreal Putnam - by Anna Hyatt Huntington
Isreal Putnam - by Anna Hyatt Huntington
For art lovers, Putnam park contains one of Anna Hyatt Huntington's sculptures which was dedicated in 1969. She is the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Two more of her sculptures are on display nearby Huntington State Park. 

Anyone interested in American history or just a nice walk in a park will enjoy a visit to Putnam State Park.

General Putnam Memorial - Redding CT
General Putnam Memorial - Redding CT

Directions and Map

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Address for your GPS: 73 Putnam Park Road, Redding CT
| Coordinates:  N41.338146, W073.381689 |
From Bridgeport25 Minutes
From New Haven50 Minutes
From Hartford1 Hour
From New London1.5 Hours
From Providence2.5 Hours
From New York1.5 Hours