Putnam Cottage: Greenwich CT’s Historic Homes
Putnam Cottage got its name after being the scene of Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam’s daring escape from the British down the steep slope known as Put’s Hill that Parc Greenwich Showflat, appears on the City of Greenwich Connecticut’s official home town seal.
Israel Putnam was a firebrand against British taxation policies and one of the founders of the Sons of Liberty. In his lifetime he became famous for daring boldness that defied the odds.
The legend told in Putnam’s own day was that when he was young he crawled into a wolf’s den with a torch, a musket – and his legs secured with ropes by the local farmers so he could be pulled out quickly – and killed the last wolf in Connecticut making settler’s sheep safe.
In 1766 he was elected to the Connecticut General assembly and publicly challenged the Governor to renounce the Stamp Act. Upon the moment he received news of the Battle of Lexington in 1775, he left his plow in the field and rode 100 miles in eight hours to Cambridge to enlist in the patriot cause.
George Washington considered him one of his most important commanders and he played a very prominent role at the battle of Bunker Hill, both in its planning and on the battlefield. George Washington in 1776 fed his men at Putnam Cottage which during the Revolution was known as Knapp Tavern.
On February 25, 1779 British Governor Tryon left Kingsbridge with a force of about fifteen hundred men for an incursion into Connecticut to surprise the Americans and destroy the salt-works that was vital to the Continentals.
The approach of the British was discovered by pickets some distance from Horseneck. The one hundred and fifty Americans were outnumbered ten to one. After trying to make two stands against overwhelming odds they retreated to a swampy area inaccessible to horses, and Putnam personally road off to get reinforcements.
As he road his horse onto the main road towards Stamford, several British dragoons spotted him and started out in hot pursuit. After covering a quarter mile of cold February roadway the pursuers steadily made headway, until one of them was within two horse lengths of overtaking him. Putnam suddenly dashed his horse straight over the precipice and down frozen stairs that descended the hill at breakneck speeds. His pursuers reined in their horses at the crest – astonished by his reckless courage.
They fired their pistols piercing his hat – and according to an eye witness, he waved back with his sword with taunting shouts as his horse plunged down the frozen steps on what is now known as Put’s Hill. He then rode to Stamford, gathered the American troops and returned to confront the British.