One thing many people don’t think about when reading about history and war is the supplies. Glory usually goes to the soldiers, marines and sailors at forefront of the battle lines, but without someone providing supplies like clean water, food, clothing, tents, blankets and other supplies, those at the front lines would be I a world of hurt and unable to fight for their cause.
During the Revolutionary War, Connecticut provided more supplies than any other colony, earning them the nickname of the Provision State, later on. Strategically located between Boston and Long Island sound was Danbury, Connecticut, a major supply center for the Continental Army.
British General William Tryon learned about the supply depot in Danbury. In late April, Tryon was camped at Campo Beach, sight of present day Westport, Connecticut. Before marching to his ships in Long Island Sound, he set his sights on the supply depot in Danbury, about 20 miles away.
On this day, April 25, 1777, Tryon led his 2,000 troops into Danbury. He expected to find a strong patriot defense of the supply depot but found little if any. As the British began searching for the supplies, they started burning building after building.
Once they found the supplies, they took as much as they could carry. The rest remaining supplies were piled in the middle of the town and set on fire. The New Danbury Church, at least 20 or more buildings, numerous houses and nearly 1,500 tents were also burned in the raid.
A number of Tories, British loyalists, also lived in Danbury. Their houses were marked with a red cloth hung outside, reminiscent of the Passover that happened in Egypt over 3,000 years earlier. Some of the Tory homes still caught fire from the burning embers that fell on them from nearby burning patriot houses.
The British spent nearly a week destroying everything they could in Danbury before taking moving on to Ridgefield.
When news of what was happening in Danbury reached leaders of the Continental Army in nearby New Haven, a force of 500 patriots, led by Generals Benedict Arnold, David Wooster and Gold Silliman, were dispatched to Danbury. They arrived just as the British were leaving, but were unable to prevent the British from leaving.
The patriots chased after British as they marched to Ridgefield where they engaged each other. At Ridgefield, General Wooster was seriously wounded. Before dying on May 2, 1777, Wooster uttered his last words, saying:
“I am dying, but with a strong hope and persuasion that my country will gain her independence.”
The needless burning of Danbury led many Tories throughout the Connecticut area to abandon their loyalty to British and become patriots and support the cause for independence.
Sources for the above includes: British attack Danbury, Connecticut; Danbury’s Burning!; Danbury Raid and the Forgotten General; Danbury Raid; The burning and the battle, 235 years later; An account of Tryon’s raid on Danbury in April, 1777, also the battle of Ridgefield and the career of Gen. David Wooster … with much original matter hitherto unpublished ...