August 13, 1781Under direct orders from George Washington, Daniel Bissell feigns desertion from the army.
November 21, 1780Major Benjamin Tallmadge, classmate of Nathan Hale, commands a crew of 2nd CT Light Dragoons who row eight whaleboats across Long Island Sound to raid a British supply depot at Ft. George, Mastic, Long Island NY. Sgt. Elijah Churchill, from Newington CT leads one of three groups of men, who capture 300 prisoners and burn several supply vessels and more than 300 tons of hay. Thereafter, the British are forced to rely on fodder shipped from England.
April 1, 1780Gold Selleck Silliman is given back to the colonists in exchange for the captured British official, Thomas Jones.
July 7, 1779British forces (54th Regiment of Foot, King’s American Regiment) raid Fairfield as they marched towards the town green. They burned many buildings during their march, destroying 97 homes, 17 barns, 48 stores, and various other structures. The aftermath was extensive, and the town’s economy never completely bounced back from the devastation.
July 2, 1779British General Tryon leaves New York with 2,600 troops for New Haven. Raids were planned to attack rebels in Connecticut towns along the cost. It was also thought that another motive for the raids was to lure General Washington onto better fighting terrain.
May 2, 1779Gold Selleck Silliman is taken from his home in Fairfield by loyalist raiders, along with his son, and transported across the Sound to Long Island, where he was held prisoner.
September 1, 1777Daniel Bissell is promoted to sergeant and transferred to the 2nd Connecticut Regiment as a result of consolidation of units.
July 8, 1777OLIVER CROMWELL under the command of Seth Harding captures brigantine HONOUR.
March 25, 1777William Coit is discharged from service as OLIVER CROMWELL’s captain, due to a lack of confidence in him among the officers and crew.
August 2, 1776Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, Oliver Wolcott, and William Williams sign the Declaration of Independence for Connecticut.
July 10, 1776Nathaniel Shaw Jr. is appointed “agent of the colony for naval supplies and taking care of sick seamen.”
July 4, 1776Continental Congress passes the Declaration of Independence. Shortly afterward British troops arrive in New York.
June 23, 1776Lebanon town meeting votes to allow inoculation for smallpox.
June 16, 1776Governor Trumbull issues Connecticut’s Declaration of Independence from British sovereignty.
June 13, 1776OLIVER CROMWELL is launched.
April 25, 1776Nathaniel Shaw Jr. writes to Gov. Trumbull, saying he has received charge of thirty-four cannon from Admiral Hopkins.
April 17, 1776The New London Independent Artillery company meets & drafts one-third of the company to be “minute men.”
April 11, 1776Council of Safety appoints Seth Harding as commander of OLIVER CROMWELL.
April 2, 1776Connecticut purchases brigantine DEFENCE and appoints Seth Harding as captain. Keel for frigate TRUMBULL is laid at Chatham (Portland).
March 17, 1776British forces evacuate Boston after holding siege for nine months.
February 2, 1776David Bushnell of Westbrook meets with the Council of Safety to discuss his plans for the first American submarine, called TURTLE. The next day, the governor & Council agree to fund Bushnell’s project in secret.
January 26, 1776Henry Knox arrives in Cambridge with cannon captured at Ticonderoga and Crown Point.
January 11, 1776Gov. Trumbull orders enlistments of two regiments of 750 men each to assist in the fortification of New York.
January 8, 1776General Assembly orders 200-ton ship of war OLIVER CROMWELL built at Saybrook (Essex).
January 5, 1776Silas Deane on behalf of the Naval Committee of Congress requests Robert Niles and the SPY to accompany recruits to Philadelphia. Council of Safety denies the request, saying, “…we cannot properly and safely permit him to be absent for so long.”
December 18, 1775Gilbert Saltonstall writes to Nathan Hale to say that New London is “In some respects… similar to a camp, for Sunday is no day of rest now.”
December 10, 1775John Hallam of New London writes to Nathan Hale reporting that the city sounded a general alarm when a ship and tender were sighted entering the harbor. Having dug fortifications, the militia prepared for battle, but were relieved when the vessel turned out to be a merchantman.
December 4, 1775Gilbert Saltonstall writes to Nathan Hale, decrying “the behavior of our Connecticut troops” in “shamefully desert[ing] the Cause.” Thomas Updike Fostdick resigns his post as Serjeant in Col. Saltonstall’s company to travel to Nathan Hale’s company in Boston, in the hopes of rallying the Connecticut troops.
December 2, 1775Capt. Hall returns MINERVA to her owner. Council of Safety authorizes the acquisition of another armed vessel and four row galleys.
November 23, 1775Captain Niles reports and asks for instructions concerning a suspicious vessel in Sag Harbor.
November 21, 1775Dr. Church is imprisoned in the Norwich gaol, as reported by Gilbert Saltonstall to Nathan Hale.
November 3, 1775The Council of Safety receives “alarming news” that the British navy has orders to “destroy all towns on the seaport coast.” Gov. Trumbull orders 100 muskets from the public supply and the construction of a fortification to defend New Haven.
October 9, 1775Gilbert Saltonstall writes to Nathan Hale in Roxbury to report that a fleet has sailed from England to Emden to take in 10000 “Hanoverians” (probably Hessian mercenaries) and that several more regiments from England, Ireland, and Scotland are expected to arrive within a month. MINERVA begins service with Giles Hall as captain, and is ordered to capture transports bound for Quebec; however, most of her crew refuses to obey orders.
October 2, 1775Capt. Niles and SPY takes the Connecticut Navy’s first prize, a British supply ship.
September 10, 1775Capt. Niles and the SPY come to the assistance of a ship run aground in Stonington. Efforts are made to rescue the cargo of 8000 bushels of wheat.
September 2, 1775Benjamin Church, director of the army hospital, is found to have sent ciphered letters to a British officer in Boston, and is ordered imprisoned in Connecticut “without use of pen, ink, and paper.”
August 14, 1775The Council of Safety purchases a sloop in Stonington called BRITANNICA, which is renamed SPY. Robert Niles of Norwich is appointed captain.
August 4, 1775The governor and Council of Safety purchase William Griswold’s 108-ton ship MINERVA and appoint another committee to find a smaller vessel to use for espionage and surveillance.
July 24, 1775The Connecticut General Assembly authorized Gov. Trumbull & the Council of Safety to procure two armed vessels as the nucleus of a Connecticut Navy. Nathaniel Shaw of New London is appointed naval commissioner.
July 7, 1775Daniel Bissell of East Windsor enlists as fifer in the 8th Connecticut Regiment.
July 5, 1775Nathan Hale resigns as school master and joins the Continental Army as a lieutenant. He later joins the winter encampment outside of Boston, along with Sam Webb, and Sgt. George Hurlbut & Stephen Hempstead of New London.
June 17, 1775Colonial forces engage British regular army at the Battle of Bunker/Breed’s Hill outside of Boston. The colonists are forced to retreat to Cambridge but suffer few casualties, while 226 British were killed and 800 wounded. Samuel Blatchley Webb of Wethersfield is lightly wounded. William Coit claims to be the first “to turn His Majesty’s bunting upside down.” George Washington receives news of the battle on his way to Boston from New York to assume command of the newly established Continental Army. John Trumbull, the governor’s youngest son, sketches the British defenses, and is later appointed Washington’s second aide-de-camp.
June 7, 1775Connecticut’s Council of Safety, established by the General Assembly to assist the governor conduct public business, holds its first meeting.
June 5, 1775William Coit is elected captain of the New London Independent Artillery Company. Nathan Hale is elected 1st Serjeant.
May 10, 1775Norwich-native Benedict Arnold and a small number of Green Mountain Boys (Vermont sharpshooters) led by Ethan Allen capture Fort Ticonderoga. Thomas Mumford of Groton participated. Silas Deane had convinced the Committee of Correspondence to finance the expedition. Along with two officers, forty-six men, and their families, the American forces seized the fort’s stores, including a supply of liquor. Unable to stop the Vermonters from looting, Arnold issued an IOU to Capt. Delaplace, who later submitted it to Connecticut for recompense. The prisoners were sent to Gov. Trumbull. Two days later Allen’s company captured Fort Crown Point. The 111 cannon seized there proved much more valuable.
May 5, 1775Gold Selleck Silliman is appointed Colonel of Fourth Regiment Connecticut Militia.
April 26, 1775CT General Assembly establishes commissariat to provide supplies to forces in Boston. Joseph Trumbull, the governor’s son, is appointed Commissary General. Jonathan Trumbull Jr. is appointed Paymaster of the army’s Northern Department. Governor Trumbull recommends building a new fort to protect New London at Shaw’s Neck.
April 21, 1775News of the “Lexington Alarm” reaches Connecticut. Fifty towns send militias to assist Massachusetts, including companies led by Thomas Knowlton of Ashford and Israel Putnam of Brooklin. Nathan Hale is reported to give a rousing speech in New London in support of taking up arms. Nineteen-year-old Robert Hallam of New London leaves home to join the militia.
April 19, 1775The first shots are fired in Lexington & Concord, MA.
March 5, 1775Richard Sill writes to Nathan Hale to report that College Yard in New Haven “constantly sounds with, point your firelock, Cock your firelock &c… from which we may gather as great evidence, war will be proclaimed soon….”
December 14, 1774Nathaniel Shaw Jr. receives permission from the General Assembly to send one of his vessels to the West Indies to purchase six hundred half-barrels of gunpowder, as “we shall want it very soon.”
December 12, 1774Lebanon pledges to boycott British goods & convenes a Committee of Inspection to enforce the boycott.
October 14, 1774Gov. Trumbull denies protection to notable loyalists, including Rev. Peters and Francis Green. In December, Peters flees to Boston.
September 8, 1774Gurdon Saltonstall & William Williams convene a public meeting in Norwich to discuss provisions for the common safety of New London & Windham Counties. On the same day, Nathan Hale writes to his brother Enoch, mentioning the harassment of Rev. Peters and reporting that the people of New London “seem much more spirited than they were before the alarm.”
September 5, 1774The First Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia. Silas Deane, Roger Sherman, and Eliphalet Dyer serve as CT’s representatives. On the same day, Nathan Hale, master of the Union School in New London, joins the Independent Artillery Company with five other young men: John Hallam, Edward Hallam, Robert Hallam, Picket Latimer, and Alexander Pygan Adams.
August 14, 1774A mob surrounds the house of Rev. Samuel Peters in Hebron, CT at midnight. According to Peters’ account, the mob tried to extort “various concessions and pledges” from the loyalist Anglican minister.
June 3, 1774Townspeople of Lebanon collect money for relief of Boston poor.
April 14, 1774Parliament passes a series of acts that become known collectively as the Coercive or Intolerable Acts, designed to punish Boston for the destruction of the tea, and stamp out similar acts of defiance in other colonies.
December 16, 1773A gang of Sons of Liberty thugs throws 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor rather than allow it to be unloaded and sold. The “destruction of the tea” (today we call it the Boston Tea Party) proved to be a rallying event in support of colonial independence.
July 14, 1773Connecticut forms its own Committee of Correspondence. Gov. Trumbull’s son Joseph serves on this committee.
May 10, 1773Parliament passes the Tea Act, retaining the tax on tea and giving the East India Company a monopoly on tea trade.
October 2, 1771The First Company Governor’s Foot Guard is established in Hartford.
April 14, 1770Parliament repeals the Townshend Acts except for the tax on tea.
March 5, 1770The colonies are shocked and outraged by the shooting deaths of five Boston residents in what became known as the Boston Massacre.
October 1, 1769Governor Pitkin dies in office and is succeeded by Jonathan Trumbull. Merchants in New York, Boston, & Philadelphia pass formal non-importation agreement.
January 16, 1769Mrs. John Vaughn of Lebanon participates in a spinning match with her neighbor as a publicity stunt to support boycotts on British goods. Throughout the winter and spring, other “Daughters of Liberty” follow suit. Massachusetts appoints a Committee of Correspondence to communicate with the other colonies and coordinate response to British actions.
July 4, 1768Jonathan Trumbull writes that disputes between the colonies are discouraging, and that, “The Clouds seem to thicken up and Blacken upon us…” William Williams says that the Townshend Acts are as bad as the Stamp Act, and that the “Right & Liberties of ye Country” are more sacred than life.
December 7, 1767Lebanon’s Town Meeting appoints a committee to promote a “buy local” campaign to eliminate the need to purchase imported goods.
June 29, 1767Parliament passes the Townshend Acts, levying taxes on glass, oil, lead, paints, tea, & paper to pay for American defense and royal officials’ salaries. Gov. Pitkin and the General Assembly send written protest to London. Eastern CT Sons of Liberty urge state residents to boycott British goods. Throughout the colonies, the Sons of Liberty lead sporadic acts of violence, and foster widespread and increasingly coordinated protests.
May 14, 1766Stamp Act-opponent William Pitkin becomes governor of CT. Jonathan Trumbull becomes Deputy Governor.
March 18, 1766Parliament repeals the Stamp Act.
October 14, 1765Radicals from eastern Connecticut opposing the Stamp Act win control of the General Assembly.
September 9, 1765A mob from New London & Windham Counties forces Stamp Act Distributor Jared Ingersoll to resign his royal office.
March 22, 1765British Parliament passes the Stamp Act, requiring colonists to buy stamps to place on paper documents of all kinds, to help pay for British soldiers protecting the colonies. Wildly unpopular, the tax is protested by “Sons of Liberty” societies in Connecticut and elsewhere in the colonies through boycotts and near-riots