Off the Beaten Path: Revolutionary Sites


The Friends of the JCC Library have generously sponsored this contest.
The JCC Library, Franklin Historical Society, Ashbel Woodward Museum, and Friends of the JCC Library encourage everyone to get outside this summer and visit the many local and faraway heritage sites relating to the American Revolution. Believe it or not, many have ties to Franklin!

To be entered into an opportunity to win, follow these following steps:
Visit at least ONE daytrip location and at least TWO Connecticut locations.

Visit at least FIVE Connecticut locations

Daytrip Locations:

Monmouth Battlefield, Manalapan Township, New Jersey (Free).

The Battle of Monmouth was fought on June 28th, 1778 and was among the largest of the war. It was an extremely hot day and many troops suffered from a lack of water. While it was not an outright victory for the Continental forces under Washington, it also was not a loss, which was important for Washington and his reputation at that point which had been battered by the 1777 Philadelphia campaign and its many losses.

A number of West Farms and Pautipaug (later Franklin) residents fought at the battle including:

  • 1st Lieutenant Hezekiah Tracy, 1st Connecticut Regiment
  • Serjeant Diah Hartshorn, 4th Connecticut Regiment
  • Private John Barker, 4th Connecticut Regiment

To qualify for the Big E tickets, take a photo on the left flank of Perrine Hill, where the 1st Connecticut Regiment and Franklin Soldiers faced down the British OR Take a photo at Sutfin Farmhouse, where the 4th and 8th Connecticut Regiments had been ordered to early in the morning of the battle.

Saratoga National Historical Park, Stillwater, New York (Free).

The two battles of Saratoga, Freeman’s Farm (September 19th, 1777) and Bemis Heights (October 7th, 1777), constitute two of the most important battles of the Revolutionary War. The victory of the Continental Forces at Bemis Heights and the surrender of General Burgoyne and his British Forces helped persuade the French to support the American cause by providing supplies, weapons, and troops to the new United States. Benedict Arnold, who later would betray the American cause, was wounded at this battle and for his role a monument in the shape of his boot was placed at the battlefield. It would still be another four years until the war ended in favor of the Americans, but this was an important stepping stone to that point.

Critical in the battles were actually Connecticut Militia men, who had been called up specifically for service during that campaign. Among there number were men from West Farms and Pautipaug (Franklin) including, but certainly not limited to:

  • 1st Lieutenant Phineas Peck, Latimer’s Brigade of Militia
  • Ensign Simon Abell, Latimer’s Brigade of Militia
  • Private Amos Armstrong, Latimer’s Brigade of Militia
  • Private Squire Ayer, Latimer’s Brigade of Militia
  • Private David Fox, Latimer’s Brigade of Militia
  • Private Ezekiel Waterman, Latimer’s Brigade of Militia (Benedict Arnold’s second cousin)

To qualify for the Big E Tickets, take a photo at the site of Freeman’s Farm, Barber Wheatfield, or the “Bloody Knoll” where Franklin militiamen fought.

Valley Forge National Historical Park, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania (Free).

After the losses in the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign, the main American army encamped at Valley Forge. Here, over a harsh winter, the American forces were trained and prepared for the next season. A Prussian officer named Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben, implemented a training regime which helped professionalize the American troops. His training was important to future American victories.

Many Franklin soldiers were encamped at Valley Forge, including:

  • Chaplain John Ellis, 1st Connecticut Regiment
  • 2nd Lt. Hezekiah Tracy, 1st Connecticut Regiment
  • Private Steven Armstrong, 4th Connecticut Regiment
  • Private Joshua Barker, 5th Connecticut Regiment
  • Private David Ladd, 4th Connecticut Regiment

To qualify for the Big E Tickets, take a photo at the sites of either Varnum’s Brigade or Huntington’s Brigade. Franklin soldiers were in each spot!

Battle Road Trail, Minuteman National Park, Concord, Massachussetts (Free).

Visit the site of the opening battle of the American Revolution at the towns of Lexington and Concord! While Franklin residents were not there, this is an important site in the story of the war and the country’s founding. You don’t want to miss it!

To qualify for the Big E Tickets, take a photo anywhere on the Battle Road Trail with a visible landmark.

Connecticut Locations:

Benedict Arnold Walking Trail, Norwich (Free).
Benedict Arnold was a Norwich native, and while he would become one of the most infamous traitors in American history, this trail follows some of the important sites during his younger years. If you want to learn about Benedict Arnold, join our Breakfast Non-Fiction Bookclub on Wednesday, June 29th when we discuss The Tragedy of Benedict Arnold: An American Life by Joyce Lee Malcom. Copies available now at the library!

To qualify for the prizes, take a photo at any of the trail signs.

Fort Griswold Battlefield, Groton (Free).
Fort Griswold was the site of the Battle for Groton Heights on September 6th, 1781 and it was one of the last battles of the Revolutionary War. Benedict Arnold, a Norwich native and traitor to the American cause, sought to stop the tide of American privateers based in New London and so he launched an attack on both sides of the Thames River. Fort Griswold was defended by local militia units, but were eventually beaten. While the British took the fort, they gave it up the next day.

To qualify for the prizes, take a photo inside the fort.

Connecticut River Museum, Essex (Borrow a museum pass from the library).
The River Museum is on the site where the Oliver Cromwell was built for the Connecticut State Navy. This was the largest vessel of the Connecticut Navy and served until 1779 when it was captured by British Privateers. In 1777, the ship’s surgeon was Benjamin Ellis from West Farms (Franklin).

Additionally, the museum has some exhibiting about the Revolution, including the Turtle, an early submarine which the Continental forces unsuccessfully tried to use in combat.

To qualify for the prizes, take a photo with the sign for the Oliver Cromwell outside the Museum or inside the model of the Turtle submarine.

Old Newgate Prison, East Granby ($10 Adult Tickets, $5 Youth Tickets).
During the American Revolution, Old Newgate Prison was used to house Loyalists to the British. While the numbers were at first small, there was eventually at any one time upwards of 40 people imprisoned on the site. The American Revolution was in essence a Civil War, and it fractured Colonial society – with the imprisoned loyalists being one of the most visible reminders of those scars.

To qualify for the prizes, take a photo inside the guardhouse.

Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, Wethersfield (Borrow a museum pass from the library).
This series of historic house museums represent important buildings to Connecticut’s contributions to the American Revolution. Silas Deane was founding father, while the Battle of Yorktown (1781) was planned in the Webb home by Washington and Rochambeau. In fact, Samuel Blatchley Webb, who had been an aide-de-camp to George Washington, was a cousin of Franklin’s own Doctor Nott!

To qualify for the prizes, take a photo inside one of the houses.

Putnam Memorial State Park, Redding (Free).
This is often called Connecticut’s own “Valley Forge”, Israel Putnam encamped with his men in this location over the winter of 1778 to 1779. This encampment was mainly comprised of Connecticut Soldiers, including some who had seen the previous winter at Valley Forge including:

  • 2nd Lieutenant Hezekiah Tracy, 1st Connecticut Regiment
  • Ensign Diah Hartshorn, 4th Connecticut Regiment

To qualify for the prizes, take a photo at the “Guardhouse”.

Connecticut Old State House, Hartford (Borrow a museum pass from the library).
While this building post-dates the American Revolution, it is the oldest State House in the country and the first Governor to serve inside it was Oliver Wolcott. Wolcott had been a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

To qualify for the prizes, take a photo inside the Old State House.

Lebanon Green, Lebanon (Free)
The Lebanon Green has seen many uses throughout its history. During the American Revolution it was a site of militia training, and later in the war was even home to French cavalrymen of the 2e Légion des Volontaires Étrangers de Lauzun, or Lauzun’s Legion. While many of the Cavalrymen stayed in homes bordering the Green, they made fair use of it that winter. They even made their way to Norwich for its taverns!

Even more importantly, Governor Jonathan Trumbull used a store building constructed by his father as his “War Office” where many of the meetings of the Connecticut Council of Safety were held. Furthermore, many important dignitaries met in the War Office including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Marquis de Lafayette, and John Adams.

To qualify for the prizes, take a photo in front of the Trumbull House.