Ohio History Journal








In the days when forests covered most of New Eng-

land, when the Indian war-whoop still echoed on its bor-

ders, when children ate corn-meal porridge from pewter

porringers, and their elders stirred their hot drinks with

a poker heated in the fireplace -- in those good old days

two centuries ago, there was born one of the great heroes

of our Nation. To be more exact, on January 7, 1718,

in an old homestead at the foot of Hathorne Hill in

Salem Village, now Danvers, Massachusetts, was born

the subject of this sketch--Israel Putnam. It is interest-

ing to know that this old homestead -- the original prop-

erty of his great-grandfather -- is still standing, and in

1897 was suitably marked by the Israel Putnam Chapter,

Daughters of the American Revolution.

Israel Putnam came of brave and sterling stock.

His father, Joseph Putnam, was one of the few men

brave enough to defy the Rev. Samuel Parris and the

principal men in Salem Village for their persecution of

all those accused during the witchcraft delusion. For

six months his loaded firelock was within reach and his

swiftest horse kept saddled that he might escape if ar-

rested. This warm sympathy for all persons wrongfully

accused, great generosity and indomitable courage were

the birthright of Joseph Putnam's son, Israel.

* Read at celebration of birthday anniversary of Rutherford B. Hayes,

in Spiegel Grove State Park, Fremont, Ohio, October 4, 1927.


Israel Putnam 529

Israel Putnam             529

On his mother's side, too, Israel rightfully inherited

greatness. She was the daughter of Israel Porter who

married Elizabeth Hathorne, daughter of William Ha-

thorne, one of the most influential men in the colony.

Indeed, Salem Village had granted him large tracts of

land for his presence among them, regarding him as a

"public benefit." He was a soldier, legislator and judge.

Nathaniel Hawthorne, a lineal descendant (and the one

who preferred to add a W to the family name), in his

interesting writings of old Salem, quaintly pictures him

as "the grave, bearded, sable-cloaked and steeple-

crowned projenitor, who came so early with his Bible

and his sword and trod the unknown street with such

a stately port and made so large a figure as a man of

war and peace."

Israel Putnam was an unusually active and robust

youth. Books were few and school terms short, so in a

sense, our hero was turned loose upon nature for his

education. He loved out-of-door life and in athletic

sports with his playmates was ever the champion. His

fearlessness and quick thinking are all well displayed

in the following story. One day, while hunting birds'

nests with his playmates, he climbed out so far on a

limb that it broke. A lower branch happened to catch

him by the seat of his pantaloons and there he hung,

head downward, hands wildly beating the air for some-

thing to grasp and feet vainly struggling for a resting

place. His companions were powerless to help him until

he shouted to one of them to shoot the branch on which

he hung and let him down. So the gun was fired and

and down he tumbled, quite bruised, but as no bones

Vol. XXXVI--34.

530 Ohio Arch

530     Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

were broken, back he went the very next day and secured

the bird's nest.

When only twenty-one, Israel married Hannah

Pope, who was but eighteen. The following year the

young couple, with their baby, followed many of the

other Massachusetts settlers to East Connecticut. Their

pioneer blood had been stirred by the prospect of more

fertile land. The entire journey of seventy-five miles

was made on horseback. When they arrived, the mother

and baby were sheltered under a hastily improvised shed

of bark while the men -- Israel and his one black servant

-- felled trees, and in a few days a substantial log-cabin

was built. The soil was easily cultivated and in a few

years fertile fields were enclosed with stone fences, sleek

cattle, sheep and goats were grazing, and fruit trees

were blooming -- as Israel planted and grafted, intro-

ducing many new varieties. All this had been done by

the young landowner with only his negro servant to help


Many hardships must have been endured and the

indomitable spirit of the nest-hunting boy is well shown

in this youth of maturer years by the story of the wolf

hunt. A she-wolf caused Putnam and his neighbors

great loss by preying upon their sheep-folds. One morn-

ing young Putnam found seventy of his sheep and goats

dead. A hunt was started, the wolf tracked to her lair

-- a small cave. One whole day was spent in attempt-

ing to dislodge her. Dogs sent in, came out wounded and

refused to go back. Straw and sulphur were burned,

but all to no purpose. Finally, Putnam threw off his

coat and waistcoat, tied a rope around his legs to be

drawn out by, when he kicked as a signal, and with a

Israel Putnam 531

Israel Putnam              531

torch in his hand entered the cave. The entrance was

only two feet square, the cave uneven and not more than

a yard wide in any place, and so low overhead that in no

place could one raise himself from his hands and knees.

Putnam crawled in and on, until, at the very end of the

cave, he saw two balls of fire glaring at him as the wolf

growled and gnashed

her teeth. He gave the

signal, but so great

was the excitement of

his rescuers, that he

reached the exit minus

his shirt and severely

scratched and bruised.

Nothing daunted, he

procured his gun, en-

tered again and

crawled toward the

wolf. When he fired,

he was again quickly

dragged out, this time

completely stunned by

the discharge of the

gun in such narrow

quarters. Quickly recovering, he entered for the third

time, and now his S. O. S. brought him out clothed and

in his right mind, his dead trophy being hauled out with

him. Israel's fame was now fairly established, the

term, "Old Wolf Put," being a familiar one. The wolf

den continues to be one of the most interesting spots in

picturesque Pomfret, now a part of Brooklyn, Connecti-

cut, and is annually visited by patriotic pilgrims.

532 Ohio Arch

532      Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

Israel Putnam was thirty-seven years old when the

"call for arms" came. The ambition for supremacy in

America had been between Spain, France and England,

but, as Spain had not occupied or made settlements as

had the other two, the real contention narrowed down

between France and England. The Seven Years' War,

soon to be declared, was the fourth between these two

nations. In 1755, the disturbed condition between them

reached a dangerous climax. This condition had little

interest for the New England farmers until it imperiled

their homes; then they became aroused, especially on ac-

count of the revengeful Indians whom the French had

enticed into their service, and the American phase of the

conflict, known as the French and Indian War, now be-

gan almost a year before the formal declaration of war.

When the stirring appeal was made for volunteers,

Israel Putnam was one of the first in his colony to re-

spond, and in the early summer of 1755, he bade fare-

well to his wife and six children -- the eldest a lad of

fifteen, who with his mother carried on the work on the

farm during his father's absence -- and with the other

Connecticut volunteers started across the country for

Albany, where they were joined by the forces from the

other colonies and a band of Indian allies. This pro-

vincial army was unsoldierlike as to its outward appear-

ance. It was composed chiefly of farmers in their or-

dinary clothing with their own firelocks, hatchets, belts,

cartridge boxes and blankets, but this crude army, which

the French considered a "mere mob of country men,"

contained sterling quality and a knowledge of Indian

warfare unknown to the army trained in military tactics.

This was soon proven in the Battle of Lake George, their

Israel Putnam 533

Israel Putnam             533

first engagement. Here Putnam received his "first bap-

tism of fire" and also his first commission, being ap-

pointed lieutenant by the Connecticut Assembly. The

French fled in great confusion and terrible loss, but in a

short time rallied and fortified themselves at Ticon-


Israel Putnam now began to win distinction as one

of Rogers' Rangers. It had been apparent for some

time that the ordinary soldier was at a great disadvan-

tage in the woods infested with Indians lying in ambush.

There were needed, for special duty, men who knew In-

dian modes of warfare and who were ever ready to out-

wit the enemy. After the Battle of Lake George, Robert

Rogers, who, with one hundred men, had escorted the

provision wagons from Albany to Fort Lyman, was or-

dered to reconnoiter the strongholds of the French. He

at once recognized the fearlessness and quickness of Is-

rael Putnam and selected him as one of his men, with

the rank of captain.

There was no invariable rule for this method of scout-

ing and fighting, but the Rangers were instructed "to

distress and harass the French and their allies" in every

way. Nothing can surpass the adventurous hardihood

of their lives. Summer and winter, day and night were

were alike to them. Embarked in whale-boats or birch

canoes they glided under the silent moon of a summer

night, or in the tomblike silence of the winter forest they

strode on snowshoes over the spotless white of the snow-

drifts or glided on skates over the glistening ice. Some-

times there would be a band of thirty men sent out to-

gether, sometimes only two lonely scouts, but, be that

as it may, it is said, "So perfect was their mode of attack

534 Ohio Arch

534     Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

and defense that a hundred Rangers were enabled to do

more service than thousands of the British Regulars."

Putnam was always to be found in the most perilous

positions and many were his miraculous escapes. On

the 30th of May, 1756, war was formally declared be-

tween France and England, and Putnam received the

commission of captain of the 4th Company in the 1st,

or Lyman's Regiment, from Connecticut, and was or-

dered to guard the English forts which were in constant

danger from the wily tactics of the Indians. It was,

however, a difficult task to outwit them as they practiced

the most cunning strategies. At one of the posts, for

several nights in succession, the sentinels had been killed

by an unseen enemy, so the sentinels subsequently as

they went on duty, were commanded to call out, "Who

goes there?" at the slightest noise and if no one an-

swered to fire at once. In spite of this precaution they

continued to disappear, until finally, even the bravest

men in camp refused to volunteer for this service. They

were about to draft men when Putnam, who, as a com-

missioned officer, was not in line for this service, volun-

teered and took the post. His quick ear must have de-

tected a slighter noise than the others, for after his call

and fire he found the body of a large Indian dressed in

a bear skin to deaden the sound of his approach and with

a quiver full of arrows.

In the spring of 1758, Putnam was promoted to the

rank of major. He served in the disastrous Battle of

Ticonderoga and was again with the Rangers to recon-

noiter, especially in the vicinity of Ticonderoga, where

Montcalm was still ensconced with the army. During

this service near Whitehall, New York, our seemingly

Israel Putnam 535

Israel Putnam              535

invulnerable hero was captured by an Indian and tied

to a tree. When the armies pressed forward in battle,

Israel found to his horror that he was directly between

the two firing lines. Balls whistled around him, striking

the tree, some passing through the sleeve and skirt of

his coat. Once a young warrior amused himself by

hurling a tomahawk at his head to see how near he could

come and not kill him, and a French petty officer leveled

a fusee at his breast, but it missed fire. Finally, a fire

was started under him and when the flames were well

under way a sudden shower came up and put them out.

The fire was again started, but just as Putnam com-

mended his soul to God with a prayer for his loved ones

at home, Marin (or Molang), who was in command of

the French and Indians engaged in this skirmish, ap-

peared and released him from his perilous position. Put-

nam still suffered much as a prisoner, being finally re-

leased by Bradstreet's fortunate capture of Fort Fron-

tenac in the autumn of 1758, when he and one hundred

and fifty others, including officers, soldiers, sailors, la-

borers, women and children were exchanged by the

French for an equal number of their own countrymen.

Putnam now returned home for a short stay with his

family, where death and birth had entered during his

absence; the oldest son, a lad of seventeen, having died

on the very day of Putnam's capture and cruel treat-

ment, and a baby girl having been born. Very soon,

however, as lieutenant-colonel, he was off again fighting

until Ticonderoga, Crown Point, Montreal and all of the

Canadian dependencies passed to the British Crown.

Jealous of the growing power of England, France

and Spain now entered into an arrangement called the

536 Ohio Arch

536     Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

"Family Compact," by the terms of which they agreed

to support each other against any trouble with England,

which country had now decided upon the capture of Ha-

vana. Putnam was now to share in the tragic experi-

ence of this adventure. As acting colonel of the Con-

necticut forces, he helped to storm Morro Castle --

that great Spanish stronghold at the deep and narrow

entrance to Havana Harbor. Five hundred of the

enemy fell. The English lost only two officers and thirty

men. Havana soon fell and passed into the possession

of the English. The next year, 1763, the Seven Years'

War was ended and, by the Treaty of Paris, peace with

France and Spain was assured the colonists.

Putnam had hardly returned home from the Cuban

conquest than he was called upon to help quell one of

the greatest Indian uprisings that had taken place in

North America since the white man entered. The Valley

of the Ohio was the very first objective section in the

struggle between the French at Detroit and the English

at Fort Duquesne -- renamed Fort Pitt after its capture

by the British -- for a foothold in Ohio. This was be-

cause the Sandusky, with its portage connection with the

Scioto, was the easiest and earliest-traveled waterway

from Lake Erie to the Ohio and thence on to the Mis-


The first clash in the rival efforts of France and Eng-

land to get a foothold in Ohio was at the mouth of the

Sandusky River. Here a Huron chief, whose Indian

name was Orontony -- baptismal name Nicolas-- had

settled with his Wyandot followers. He had been a

friend of the French, but was now their deadly foe.

English traders from the colonies had, as early as 1700,

Israel Putnam 537

Israel Putnam              537

penetrated the Sandusky Valley. Nicolas, in order to

strengthen his efforts against the French, allowed the

Pennsylvania colonists to erect a trading post or block-

house, known as Fort Sandoski, at the principal Huron

town on the northwest point of Sandusky Bay, about

three miles south of the present site of Port Clinton.

This was in 1745 and was the first fort built by white

men in Ohio. Nicolas now made a well-laid plan to ex-

terminate the French in the Detroit and Sandoski re-

gions, but his plan failed and to save himself he ordered

all the English to leave the Indian towns in the Sandoski

region, finally tore down the stockade at Fort Sandoski

and departed. The English traders must have returned

and rebuilt the fort in 1749. It was usurped by the

French in 1751, and in 1754 was abandoned by them and

Fort Junundat built on the east side of Sandusky Bay,

just opposite the old Fort Sandoski, near Pickerel Creek.

It was from this Fort Junundat that many of the Indian

trails were made on the east side of the Sandusky River.

After peace was declared between the French and

English, the loosely organized Indian tribes, being de-

prived of French leadership, caused no apprehension to

the English who lorded it over them, driving them away

from the garrisons and otherwise insulting them. Tak-

ing advantage of this condition, Pontiac, that crafty and

ambitious chief of the Ottawas, gathered together all of

the tribes between the Allegheny and Mississippi Rivers

for one grand, simultaneous attack on all the western

forts, each of which, for this purpose, was assigned to

the tribe nearest to it. His plan was successful and a

terrible massacre followed. Forts Mackinac, Presqu'il

(now Erie), Sandoski and all the other isolated forts

538 Ohio Arch

538     Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

but one, fell before the fury of the Indians. Detroit

alone held out, having been prepared for the onslaught

by the disclosure of an Indian girl.

In the call for arms which followed this perfidious

and cruel massacre of the English, General Gage, the

British commander-in-chief, appointed Israel Putnam

lieutenant-colonel of the Connecticut forces. The plan

of General Gage for this battle of the year 1764 was for

two expeditions, from different points, to be sent into the

heart of the Indian country, one under Colonel Bouquet,

the other under Colonel Bradstreet, the latter of whom

was to have for his object the relief of Major Gladwyn

at Detroit -- which fort having escaped the treacherous

capture by Pontiac, was still under siege by the Indians

-- and the subjection of the neighboring tribes.

It was in this latter expedition that our hero was to

serve as major with his Connecticut battalion of two

hundred and fifty men. The entire force under Brad-

street was only about twelve hundred men, much fewer

than he had expected. These proceeded from Albany

across the colony of New York and up Lakes Ontario

and Erie. When they reached Fort Ontario, they were

joined by six hundred friendly Indians under Sir Wil-

liam Johnson. Among these savage allies was the chief

under whom Putnam had been kept a captive, who had

been his friend ever since. This Indian was now at the

head of one hundred warriors of his own tribe and it is

said that the affection which he had for Putnam kept the

natives particularly loyal in this expedition.

On July 3, 1764, the flotilla, consisting of two

vessels -- the Mohawk and the Johnson -- seventy-

five whale-boats and numerous canoes, issued forth

Israel Putnam 539

Israel Putnam              539

upon Lake Ontario and steered westward. At Fort

Niagara the main army of the English staid for a month

in conference with the Indians and finally secured a strip

of land on each side of the Niagara four miles wide.

The provincial army was ordered on to build a fort at

the mouth of Lake Erie. Putnam and some of his men,

under Lieutenant Montresor, engineer, were chosen

among some others for this work. After the new Fort

Erie was finished, Bradstreet joined the working party

and from this post, on August 8th, Putnam and the oth-

ers accompanied the expedition as they crossed the Lake

and, coasting along the southern shore, finally camped

at a point halfway between the present cities of Buffalo

and Erie.

At this place, arrived one morning, ten strange In-

dians who claimed to have been sent from the Dela-

wares, Shawanese and Five Nations to sue for peace.

The Indian allies were for "knocking the impostors on

the head" and Putnam warned Colonel Bradstreet

against putting any trust in their overtures, but Brad-

street, confident and headstrong, make a treaty with

them, whereby he was to refrain from marching against

the tribes which they represented, provided that within

twenty-five days they should meet him at Fort Sandoski,

deliver all prisoners, and make a definite treaty. When

the Bradstreet troops reached Sandusky Bay they were

met by Indian representatives who promised to follow

him to Detroit and conclude the treaty. Thus, although

General Gage had ordered Bradstreet to attack and chas-

tise the Wyandots, Miamis and Delawares at this place,

the latter was again duped and the very center of Pon-

tiac's conspiracy was left unmolested.

540 Ohio Arch

540     Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

Bradstreet proceeded on his way to Detroit, where

he spent some time. While there, he was startled by the

news that eight hundred warriors had assembled at San-

doski to prevent the English troops from landing at the

expiration of the twenty-five days agreed upon. The

troops were ordered to embark at once for Fort San-

doski; so, at eight o'clock on the morning of September

14th, in the midst of the beautiful autumn scenery, the

whole flotilla, consisting of sixty of the long-boats and

one barge, glided down the Detroit River out upon Lake

Erie. In five days the little fleet entered Sandusky Bay

and thence up the river to a good clay beach, one-half

mile west of the old Fort, where, sixteen months before,

Pontiac's followers had butchered the English garrison

and burned the fort. It was here that Bradstreet ex-

pected to meet the deputies for the treaty, but not a chief

appeared. The army then came further up the river

and encamped at the Huron Village, (now Fremont).

Lieutenant Montresor, on that day, made the following

entry in his journal: "I went to the Huron Village and

took a sketch and Bearings of that advantageous and

beautiful situation and the meanderings of the River.

Remarked that the Left of our Encampment is con-

tiguous to the remains of an old Fort where the Dela-

wares & some of the Western Indians took Post to shel-

ter themselves against the Iroquois near 100 years ago

-- this constructed in the form of a circle 300 yards in

circumference, one half defended by the River and a

remarkable Hollow way or Gully which covers the left

and part of the Front of our present encampment."

Here Bradstreet and his eleven hundred men encamped

for over a week and here Israel Putnam and others,

Israel Putnam 541

Israel Putnam             541

under the instruction of Lieutenant Montresor, built and

fortified their encampment. The camp thus selected ex-

tended from the high ground on the river bank around

through what is now known as the County Fair Grounds,

recently named the Israel Putnam Agricultural Park.

in honor of Israel Putnam, and along the high ground

until it reached the old Factor's house which was later

changed into a fort and named Fort Stephenson, after

Colonel Stephenson, who was in charge of the troops

engaged in making the charge, The encampment thus

enclosed the low rich ground on which the Indians had,

from time immemorial, grown their crops, and through

the center of which the unfortunate prisoners were forced

to run the gauntlet, and the racing of the numerous

horses brought here with the captives, took place as they

were tried out by the Indians. In the Sandusky River,

opposite, was the island where Captain Brady, the spe-

cial messenger of George Washington, secreted himself

and for three days watched the meanderings of the In-

dians in an effort to learn whether they planned a gen-

eral war of all Indian tribes on the white men or were

simply engaging in forays as individual bands.

This Sandusky encampment became a scene of great

Indian activity. The friendly Indians meeting in coun-

cil with Colonel Bradstreet were then sent out to treat

with the Indian tribes, many of whom vowed "war

against the English as long as the sun should shine."

On the 24th of September, the troops broke camp and

proceeded down the river near the site of the old Fort

Junundat and began operations to erect a fort and be

ready for battle should the Indians refuse to come to

terms. During the long parley of the Indians, as was

542 Ohio Arch

542     Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

afterwards disclosed, a plot had been laid that three

hundred picked Indians should appear to treat with them

until the English were off their guard, then the others

should join in and spear and tomahawk all the men of

the army. Thus Bradstreet had taken his command into

the very heart of the Indian country and caused the In-

dians to sue for peace and agree to restore some two

thousand prisoners, but it was not for him to receive the

glory of his feat. He left the scene at the crucial mo-

ment, and Bouquet, appearing on the scene, reaped the


Putnam reached home by the first of December,

1764. The following spring his life was saddened by

the death of his wife and a daughter of only seventeen.

On March 22, 1765, the Stamp Act stirred the col-

onists to rebellion and we find Putnam, who had joined

"The Sons of Liberty," one of its most ardent opponents,

riding from town to town to see what number of men

could be relied upon to make an armed resistance to the

obnoxious law. The Sons of Liberty declared that they

would fight up to their knees in blood rather than suffer

the Stamp Act to be put in force. In 1766, the impor-

tance of his influence being recognized, Putnam was

elected as Representative to the Connecticut Assembly.

The next year, 1767, little more than two years after

the death of his wife, Hannah, Putnam married Mrs.

Deborah Lothrop Gardiner, and now began a life of

social activity. Their hospitable home drew throngs of

visitors, relatives, friends, ministers, distinguished

strangers and gushing patriots and soldiers, who went

out of their way to call upon their beloved colonel. A

Virginian Jefferson might submit to this, even though it

Israel Putnam 543

Israel Putnam               543

brought bankruptcy, but a Yankee Putnam never, so by

one of his masterful strokes he turned his hospitable

home into a tavern, with a sign upon the tree in front of

it, and thus made a goodly income.

In 1772, Putnam was made a member of the Com-

pany of Military Adventurers, organized by General

Phineas Lyman, and, as such, visited the Lower Missis-

sippi and West Florida, where land grants had been

promised by the British Government for the provincial

soldiers who had survived the French and Indian War.

No grants were ever made and all plans of the company

were abolished by the outbreak of the American Revo-


Just four months after Putnam's return from his

southern voyage, occurred the incident of the "Boston

Tea Party," and Putnam was one of a committee of

three from Pomfret to prepare a glowing letter to the

Boston Patriots, promising aid to them in their distress

at the passage of the Boston Port Bill. No sooner was

the letter written than it was decided that Putnam him-

self should be the carrier, so he set out at once on horse-

back for Boston, nearly a hundred miles distant, driving

before him a flock of one hundred and twenty sheep --

Pomfret's gift to the distressed town. On reaching Bos-

ton, Putnam was an honored guest at the home of Dr.

Joseph Warren, who, in a postscript to a letter ad-

dressed to his bosom friend, Samuel Adams, wrote, "The

celebrated Colonel Putnam is now in my house, having

arrived, since I subscribed this letter" (dated Boston,

August 15, 1774), "with a generous donation of sheep."

Putnam remained in Boston several days as Colonel

Warren's guest. The newspapers, in announcing his

544 Ohio Arch

544     Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

presence in town, spoke of him as "one of the greatest

military characters of the age," a person whose "bravery

and character need no description."

One warm day in April, 1775, Israel Putnam and his

son, Daniel, were plowing in the fields. Suddenly they

heard the sound of galloping hoofs and the rat-a-tat-tat

of a drum. A man on horseback reined up his horse for a

moment and shouted, "War's begun! British troops

have fired upon our men at Lexington and we chased

them all the way to Cambridge"! Putnam dropped the

handle of his plow, unharnessed the horse, told his son

to tell his mother that he had gone to Boston, mounted

his farm horse and was off, reaching Boston the next

day. Returning home that same evening, he found hun-

dreds of men gathered on the Green ready to obey his

orders. It was now nearly sunset, but, without stopping

to rest or to change the checked farmer suit which he

had been wearing since he left his plow the morning be-

fore, Putnam started on a night ride for Cambridge,

reaching there the next day. He was made brigadier-

general and organized and drilled a regiment. In May,

he led a battalion to Noddle's Island, burned a British

schooner, captured a sloop and killed and wounded many

of the enemy.

On April 26, 1775, the Assembly of Connecticut

voted to raise an army of sixteen thousand troops. Put-

nam was made second brigadier-general, also colonel

of the Third Regiment and captain of the First Com-

pany in the same regiment, and was now to win distinc-

tion in the Battle of Bunker Hill. It was by his advice

that it was decided to fortify Bunker Hill in order that

there might be a second rallying point in case the troops

Israel Putnam 545

Israel Putnam              545

were driven from Breed's Hill. Time is too short and

the story of the Battle of Bunker Hill too long to be en-

tered into, but General Putnam was the life and soul of

the battle, inspiring the men, shaming the cowards, urg-

ing everything forward. He did not have charge of the

battle, but was galloping here and there on his old white

horse, in his white shirt sleeves and with an old white

felt hat on his head. The battle raged and Israel Put-

nam at last, when all his troops had left him, stood with

only one sergeant beside him. The sergeant was shot

down and the British bayonets were upon him before he

retreated. General Putnam, in his final stand, is immor-

talized by Trumbull, the painter, who shows him in the

rear of the picture waving his sword at the enemy. The

Americans lost the battle, but they had proved their

mettle and encouraged wavering Americans to join the

patriotic side, and they had heartened all the colonies.

Washington arrived at this time and Putnam was made


On the evacuation of Boston in the spring of 1776,

Putnam was placed in command of New York. He held

the fortified lines during the Battle of Long Island, was

sent to Philadelphia to fortify that city in December,

1776, and in May, 1777, was ordered to take command

in the Highlands of the Hudson. It was during this

service that Putnam met his Waterloo and his popularity

waned. How much of this was due to politics or to

Putnam's own failure is a question, but after the loss

of Forts Clinton and Montgomery, Washington re-

moved him from his command. A Court of Inquiry,

ordered by Congress, exonerated him from all blame and

he was then sent to Connecticut, April, 1778, to super-

Vol. XXXVI--35.

546 Ohio Arch

546     Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications

intend the sending of recruits for the coming campaign,

in which service he made such progress that he was soon

ready for service elsewhere.

"Old Wolf Put is growing old," Washington himself

says in a letter to Gouverneur Morris, in June, 1778,

"What am I to do with Putnam? If Congress means to

lay him aside decently, I wish they would devise the

means." Putnam was not yet to be laid aside. He was

restored to his command of troops in the main army and

served at different posts with all of his accustomed in-


It was in February, of the year 1779, that he was in

command of a small picket at Horseneck, a part of

Greenwich, Connecticut, when he heard that Governor

Tryon, of New York, was approaching with fifteen hun-

*dred men to seize the salt works in this vicinity, which

were of much value to the Continental Army. When

Putnam got the word, he was shaving. With the lather

still on his face, he grasped his sword, rushed out of the

house, and pressed forward to rally his troops. He

formed them on a hill ready to receive the enemy, who

charged on horseback. The American troops numbered

but one hundred and fifty as against fifteen hundred

British troops. When General Putnam saw no chance of

success, he ordered his men to retreat across a swamp

inaccessible to horses while he himself mounted his horse

and galloped to Stamford for reinforcements. The

British, seeing his maneuver, started in pursuit. For a

quarter of a mile they pursued him, when the road curved

sharply and led down a steep precipice. A part of the

way down were some rough stones to form steps for a

short cut to a little church on the hill, but the rest of the

Israel Putnam 547

Israel Putnam                547

way was steep and rocky. The pursuers reined in as

they saw Putnam force his horse over the brow and

down the rocky height, waving his sword tauntingly at

the baffled British, whose balls went whizzing past him.

One pierced his cap and it is said that Governor Tryon

sent him a new one in recognition of his wonderful

bravery. At the centennial commemoration of the ride,

in 1879, a granite boulder was placed on this historic

spot, now called "Put's Hill."

The brave Putnam was now to have a leave of ab-

sence, little thinking that he would never return. In

December of the same year, as he set out on horseback

to rejoin the army, a slight stroke of paralysis came

upon him and he was forced to retirement. Eleven

years of peace and comfort remained to him. On May

19, 1790, death closed his eyes. He is buried in Brook-

lyn, Connecticut, with this epitaph upon his tomb:

Sacred be this Monument,

To the memory


Israel Putnam, Esquire,

Senior Major-General in the Armies


The United States of America


Was born at Salem

In the Province of Massachusetts

On the seventh day of January

A. D., 1718;

and died

On the nineteenth day of May

A. D., 1790.

548 Ohio Arch

548       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications


If thou art a Soldier,

Drop a Tear over the dust of a Hero


Ever attentive

To the lives and happiness of his Men

Dared to lead

Where any Dared to follow;

If a Patriot,

Remember the distinguished and gallant services

Rendered thy Country

By the Patriot who sleeps beneath this Marble;

If thou art Honest, generous and worthy

Render a cheerful tribute of respect

To a Man

Whose generosity was singular

Whose honesty was proverbial;


Raised himself to universal esteem

And offices of Eminent distinction

By personal worth

And a

Useful life.