General Israel Putnam


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Israel PutnamPutnam, ISRAEL, military officer; born in Salem (the part now Danvers), Massachusetts, January 7, 1718; he settled in Pomfret, Connecticut, in 1739, where he acquired a good estate; raised a company, and served in the French and Indian War with so much efficiency that in 1757 he was promoted to the rank of major.

While Abercrombie was resting securely in his entrenchments at Lake George after his repulse at Ticonderoga, two or three of his convoys had been cut off by French scouting-parties, and he sent out Majors Rogers and Putnam to intercept them. Apprised of this movement, Montcalm sent Molang, an active partisan, to waylay the English detachment. While marching through the forest (August, 1758), in three divisions, within a mile of Fort Anne, the left, led by Putnam, fell into an ambuscade of Indians, who attacked the English furiously, uttering horrid yells. Putnam and his men fought bravely. His pistol at length missed fire with the muzzle at the breast of a powerful Indian, who, with a loud war-whoop, sprang forward and captured the brave leader. Binding Putnam to a tree (where his garments were riddled by bullets), the chief fought on. The Indians were defeated, when his captor unbound Putnam and took him deeper into the forest to torture him. He was stripped naked and bound to a sapling with green withes. Dry wood was piled high around him and lighted, while the Indians chanted the death-song. The flames were kindling fiercely, when a sudden thunder-shower burst over the forest and nearly extinguished them. But they were renewed with greater intensity, and Putnam lost all hope, when a French officer dashed through the crowd of yelling natives, scattered the burning limbs, and cut the cords that bound the victim. It was Molang, the leader of the French and Indians, who had heard of the dreadful proceedings. Putnam was delivered to Montcalm at Ticonderoga, treated kindly, and sent a prisoner to Montreal. He was afterwards exchanged for a prisoner captured by Bradstreet at Fort Frontenac, and was lieutenant-colonel at the capture of Montreal in 1760, and at the capture of Havana in 1762. He was a colonel in Bradstreet's Western expedition in 1764. After the war he settled on a farm in Brooklyn township, Connecticut, where he also kept a tavern.

Rescuing Putnam from the Indians

Rescuing Putnam from the Indians

General Putnam in the Revolutionary War

On the morning after the affairs at Lexington and Concord (April 20, 1775) Putnam was in his field, with tow blouse and leather apron, assisting hired men in building a stone wall on his farm. A horseman at full speed acquainted him with the stirring news. He instantly set out to arouse the militia of the nearest town, Israel Putnam Signand was chosen their leader when they were gathered. In his rough guise he set out for Cambridge, and reached it at sunrise, having ridden the same horse 100 miles in eighteen hours. He was appointed a provincial major-general; was active in the battle of Bunker Hill; and was appointed one of the first major-generals of the Continental army. From that time his services were given to his country without cessation in the Hudson Highlands and in western Connecticut. Paralysis of one side of his body in 1779 affected his physical condition, but did not impair his mind, and he lived in retirement until his death, May 19, 1790. The sign on Putnam's tavern bore a full-length portrait of General Wolfe. In the following letter, written at the close of the Revolutionary War, he alludes to his having been an innkeeper:

"BROOKLYN, Feb. 18, 1782.

"GENTLEMEN, Being an Enemy to Idleness, Dissipation, and Intemperance, I would object against any measure that may be conducive thereto; and as the multiplying of public-houses where the public good does not require it has a direct tendency to ruin the morals of the youth, and promote idleness and intemperance among all ranks of people, especially as the grand object of those candidates for license is money, and where that is the case, men are not apt to be overtender of people's morals or purses. The authority of this town, I think, have run into a great error in approbating an additional number of public houses, especially in this parish. They have approbated two houses in the centre, where there never was custom (I mean traveling custom) enough for one. The other custom (or domestic), I have been informed, has of late years increased, and the licensing of another house, I fear, would increase it more. As I kept a public house here myself a number of years before the war, I had an opportunity of knowing, and certainly do know, that the traveling custom is too trifling for a man to lay himself out so as to keep such a house as travelers have a right to expect; therefore I hope your honors will consult the good of this parish, so as only to license one of the two houses. I shall not undertake to say which ought to be licensed your honors will act according to your best information.

"I am, with esteem, your honors' humble servant, ISRAEL PUTNAM.

"To the Honorable County Court, to be held at Windham on the 19th inst."



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