Among the earliest successful ship builders at Norwich Landing, Joshua Huntington was an established businessman by the time the American Revolution broke out in 1775.
By late 1776, the recently formed U. S. Marine Committee recommended to Congress that a mix of ships be built to include three 74-gun ships and five 36-gun Frigates, an 18-gun brig and a packet boat. Dithering in Congress kept decisions from being made until 1777, when Governor Jonathan Trumbull wrote to John Hancock insisting that two ships be built in Connecticut, one at “Chatham” (now East Hampton on the Connecticut River) and one at Norwich under the direction of Major Joshua Huntington (1751-1821) at his shipyard below the confluence of the Thames and Yantic Rivers.
The Confederacy was a 36-gun sailing frigate launched November 8, 1778 at Norwich and towed to New London to be prepared for sea. Dimensions and specifications were provided by Oliver Wolcott but without scale drawings or designs. The ship builders were forced to design as they built and according to their imaginations based upon narrative descriptions. Due to the rushed order, a great deal of green lumber went into the Confederacy, causing it to suffer extensive rot within a few years. Its fittings came from a variety of Connecticut foundries as well as from salvaged enemy ships held in Newport, Rhode Island.
From May 1 to August 24, 1779 Confederacy cruised the Atlantic coast under the command of Captain Seth Harding. While convoying, providing armed defensive support to a fleet of merchantmen, on June 6, 1779, she and the Deane, captured three prizes, drove off two British frigates and brought the convoy safely into Philadelphia. Deane, named for American commissioner to France, Silas Deane, of Wethersfield, was built at Nantes, France, and brought to the U.S. in May 1778.
Still under the command of Captain Harding, the Confederacy, on September 17, 1779, was commissioned to sail to France to return the French Minister, Count Gerard, and the American Minister to Spain, John Jay. Two months into their voyage, on November 7, 1779, the ship was dismasted by a heavy wind and was nearly destroyed. Captain Harding managed to work the ship southward, forced to seek refuge on Martinique, West Indies in early December. With 6 feet of water in the hold, she remained there for several months for repairs. From Martinique, the ship’s diplomatic passengers departed for France on the French frigate L’Aurore and after repairs, Confederacy returned to active duty.
She returned to Philadelphia on April 20, 1780 only to have the need for more extensive repairs discovered. In October, she was damaged once again in a collision with another ship in Philadelphia harbor. In 1781 Confederacy was forced to strike her flag to two British ships; the 44-gun HMS Roebuck and the 32-gun Orpheus off the coast of Cape Francois, West Indies. She was subsequently taken into the British service as HMS Confederate, and sent to England with her load of American supplies and nearly 100 American prisoners. In England, the Confederacy’s excessive hull rot was discovered.
In April 1775 17-year-old Daniel Putnam followed his father from farm field to war, serving as Major General Israel Putnam’s principal aide. In 1790 he purchased this farm and named it Putnam Elms, after the many trees he planted.
Putnam Elms is owned by the Colonel Daniel Putnam Association, and is open to the public.
Farms such as this one were essential to the supply lines that fed and clothed Connecticut’s Revolutionary soldiers. Behind the house once stood a two-story barn that housed livestock one level, and feed and equipment on the other.
The Strong-Porter House is owned by the Coventry Historical Society, and open to the public.
The Yantic, the Shetucket, and the Quinebaug Rivers unite at Norwich to form the Thames River, making the city a Revolutionary-era center for shipbuilding, merchant trading, and manufacturing. Norwich was also a hotbed of activity for the Sons of Liberty. Benedict Arnold was born here, and the city “hosted” one of the Revolution’s other notorious traitors, Benjamin Church in its gaol.
The Norwich Historical Society interprets the history of the “Rose City.”
Franklin was once West Farms north of Norwich. The stage road was from the Norwich Town Green to Windham. In 1786 West Farms became Franklin and the following year it was voted that a town highway tax be payable in labor at 3 shilling per day for a man and 8 shilling for a man and a team of 4 good oxen and cart. In 1795the Hartford to Norwich Turnpike was chartered to connect the towns of Franklin, Lebanon, Columbia, Andover and Bolton. It was to have two toll gates. But in 1796a resoluntion was forwarded to the General Assembly that the inhabitants of Franklin
were” dissatisfied, aggrieved and injured by setting up a turnpike between Lebanon and Norwich and praying that such relief as consistent with wisdom, justice and equity be granted.”
One of four brothers who served as Revolutionary soldiers, Samuel Beaumont built a small farm house “four miles and 59 rods” from the original meeting house in Lebanon. It was moved to its current site in 1975.
The Beaumont House is owned by the Lebanon Historical Society.
Jonathan Trumbull Jr. served as the northern army’s paymaster general, and then as military secretary to General George Washington. He served with Washington at Yorktown and until the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. General Washington probably stayed in his house March 4, 1781.
The Trumbull Jr. House is owned by the Town of Lebanon and open to the public.
From 1775-1783, Gov. Jonathan Trumbull Sr. and the Council of Safety met more than 500 times at this small storehouse to plan Connecticut’s military, logistical, financial, and political actions during the American Revolution.
On September 6, 1781, Benedict Arnold’s forces attacked New London and Fort Griswold in Groton. The nearby home of Ebenezer Avery, himself severely wounded, served as a field hospital. It is said it took generations for the bloodstained floors to be worn away.
The Avery House is on the grounds of Ft. Griswold State Park, and administered by the Avery Memorial Association.
Merchant Christopher Leffingwell sided with the patriot cause, serving as a colonel in the Connecticut State Militia, and as a member of the Committee of Correspondence. Built in 1675, his house was probably enlarged to serve as a tavern, and was known for many years as the “Leffingwell Inn.”
The Leffingwell House Museum is open to the public for tours.