Renewed Efforts to Obstruct the Hudson. — Selection of West Point as a Suitable Place. — Letters of Washington to Putnam and Clinton upon the Subject. — Appointment of a Committee by the New York Provincial Convention to confer with Putnam. — Report of the Committee, in which they Recommend the Fortification of West Point. — Commencement of the Works by General Parsons. — Contract made by Colonel Hughes for the Great Chain at West Point. — Report of General Putnam on the Progress of the Fortifications. — Report of General Parsons on the same. — General McDougall ordered to Relieve General Putnam. — Instructions to General Parsons relative to the Construction of the Works.
Immediately after the return of Sir Henry Clinton's expedition to New York, the necessity for a more thorough fortification of the Highlands engage days the attention of those to whom the defence of this most important post had been intrusted.
On the 6th of November, Colonel Hughes wrote General Gates from Fishkill: ***"The General, Governor Clinton, and General James [Clinton], an Engineer, and your humble servant were at the forts yesterday, viewing the River, Bluffs, Points, &c., in order to erect some further obstructions, which are immediately set about. The Boom will be near Fort Constitution, and a work on the west shore to defend it."1 *** From New Windsor, on the 24th of November, General Clinton wrote General Gates: "I know of no other method of obstructing the passage of Hudson's River, but by Chevaux-de‑frise, p49Chains, and Booms, well defended by heavy artillery and strong works on the shore. The former is impracticable at any place lower down than where the present are, near this place; and even there, the river is rather too wide to admit of their being properly defended; they may, however, when completed, be a valour considerable obstruction. This with a chain or boom, at a part of the river called the West Point, where it is quite narrow, and the wind, owing to the crookedness of the river, very uncertain, with proper works on the shore to defend it, and water-batteries on shore calculated to annoy shipping, would in my opinion, perfectly obstruct the navigation." ***"We have a boom, calculated for the narrow part of the river, well forward, but our works go on extremely slow indeed, for want of tools,"2 &c. *** This feeling of solicitude was not confined to the local commanders. The comparative ease with which the British expedition had passed the Highlands had awakened an apprehension of its early repetition in the mind of General Washington, who, in a letter dated December 2d, 1777, instructed General Putnam to consult with Governor Clinton, General Parsons, and the French engineer, Lieutenant-Colonel Radière, with a view to the erection of such "works and obstructions as may be necessary to defend and secure the river against any future attempts of the enemy."
The following is Washington's letter:
"Head-Quarters, 2d December, 1777.
"Dear Sir:— The importance of the Hudson River in the present contest, and the necessity of defending it, are subjects which have been so frequently and fully p50discussed, and are so well understood, that it is unnecessary to enlarge upon them. These facts at once appear, when it is considered that it runs through a whole State; that it is the only passage by which the enemy from New York, or any part of our coast, can ever hope to co-operate with an army from Canada; that the possession of it is indispensably essential to preserve the communication between the Eastern, Middle, and Southern States; and further, that upon its security, in a great measure, depend our chief supplies of flour for the subsistence of such forces as we may have occasion for, in the course of the war, either in the Eastern or Northern Departments, or in the country lying up high on the west side of it. These facts are familiar to all; they are familiar to you. I therefore request you, in the most urgent terms, to turn your most serious and active attention to this infinitely important object. Seize the present opportunity, and employ your whole force and all the means in your power for erecting and completing, as far as it shall be possible, such works and obstructions as may be necessary to defend and secure the river against any future attempts of the enemy. You will consult Governor Clinton, General Parsons, and the French engineer, Lieutenant-Colonel Radière, upon the occasion. By gaining the passage, you know the enemy have already laid waste and destroyed all the houses, mills and towns accessible to them. Unless proper measures are taken to prevent them, they will renew their ravages in the spring, or as soon as the season will admit, and perhaps Albany, the only town in the State of any importance remaining in our hands, may undergo a like fate, and a general havoc and devastation take place.
p51 "To prevent these evils, therefore, I shall expect that you will exert every nerve, and employ your whole force in future, while and whenever it is practicable, in constructing and forwarding the proper works and means of defence. The troops must not be kept out on command, and acting in detachments to cover the country below, which is a consideration infinitely less important and interesting.
"I am, dear Sir," &c.
In a letter to Governor Clinton of the same date, General Washington expressed much solicitude on the subject. Governor Clinton, in his reply, assured the Commander-in‑chief of his hearty concurrence in any effort that might be agreed upon; and he gave signal important hints respecting the construction of new works on the river, and especially recommended that a "strong fortress should be erected at West Point opposite to Fort Constitution."3
On the same date, Washington also addressed a letter to Major-General Gates, directing him, "with a certain part of the Northern army, and the assistance of the militia of New York and the Eastern States, of attempt the recovery of the posts upon the North River from the enemy, and to put them, if recovered, in the best posture of defence." But General Gates was appointed, at about the same time, President of the Board of War, and did not act in the matter. Washington also addressed a letter to Governor Clinton, requesting him "to take the chief direction of superintendence of this business." Governor Clinton replied, that he would co-operate with any one charged with the chief direction p52of the works, but in view of his other duties must decline the appointment.
The matter thus remained under the direction of General Putnam, who, early in January, 1778, brought the subject before the Provincial Convention of New York, as appears from the following proceedings:—
"Thursday, Jan. 8, 1778.
"Application being made by Major-General Putnam, Commanding Officer of the Middle Department, that this Convention would appoint a committee to confer with him relative to the necessary works to be constructed for the defences of the passes in the Highlands —
"Resolved, That the General's request be complied with, and that Mr. Scott, Mr. Pawling, Mr. Wisner, Mr. Snyder, Mr. Killian Van Rensselaer, Mr. Drake, Mr. Hathorn, and Mr. Hoffman, be a committee for that purpose."4
"Friday, January 9, 1778.
"General Scott, from the Committee appointed yesterday evening, to confer with General Putnam and General James Clinton, the Lieutenant-Colonel of Engineers, and other military officers, relative to the necessary works to be constructed for the passes in the Highlands, and the place or places where the same ought to be erected, reported that they had conferred with the said Generals and other officers; that on such conference there was a disagreement in sentiment between those gentlemen (arising from certain different facts alleged), as to the place where such works ought to be erected; and, therefore, that it was the opinion of the said Committee and the military gentlemen, that this Convention appoint Commissioners to view the several passes on Hudson p53River, with the Generals and other officers, and advise in fixing the places where such fortifications should be erected.
"Resolved, That John Sloss Hobart, Esq., one of the Justices of the Supreme Court, the Hon. Robert R. Livingston, Chancellor of this State, Mr. Platt, Mr. Wisner, and Colonel Hathorn, be, and hereby are, appointed Commissioners for the purpose above mentioned, and proceed in that business with all possible dispatch."5
The result of the conference of these two Committees, after devoting three days in examining the ground at and near West Point, will be found in the following report: *********
"Wednesday, January 14th, 1778.
"Your Committee, who were sent to ascertain the place for fixing a chain and erecting fortifications for obstructing the navigation of the Hudson River, beg leave to report, That they have carefully reviewed the ground on which Fort Clinton lately stood, and its environs, and find that the ground is so intersected with learning, deep hollows, that the enemy might approach without any annoyance from the garrison within the Fort, to within a few yards of the walls, unless a redoubt should be raised to clear the hollows next the Fort, which must be built at such distance from the Fort that it could not be supported from thence in case of an assault, so that the enemy might make themselves masters of the redoubt the first dark night after their landing, which would be a good work, ready to their hand, for annoying p54the Fort and facilitating their operations against it; and, together with the eminences and broken grounds within a short distance of the Fort, would render it impossible for the garrison to resist a general assault for many hours together. Another objection that appeared to the Committee was the want of earth on the spot, which would reduce the engineer to the necessity of erecting his works entirely of timber, which must be brought to Pooploop's Kill in rafts, and from thence drawn up a steep and difficult road to the top of the hill. The rafts cannot be made till the water is warm enough for men to work in it, by which it is probable that a Fort cannot be erected before the ships of the enemy will come up the river. Beside, at this place, the chain must be laid across the river, so that it will receive the whole force of the ships coming with all the strength of tide and wind on a line of three or four miles. Add to these, if the enemy should be able to possess themselves of the passes in the mountains through which they marched to the attacks of Forts Montgomery and Clinton, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the militia of the country to raise the siege.
"Upon viewing the country at and about West Point, the Committee found that there were several places in which the enemy might land and proceed immediately to some high grounds that would command a Fort erected at West Point, at the distance of six or seven hundred yards, from which they might carry on their approaches through a light gravelly soil, so that it would be impossible for the Fort to stand a long siege. But in balance this disadvantage in this place, there is plenty of earth. The timber may be brought to the spot by good roads p55from the high grounds at the distance of one to three miles. Three hundred feet less of chain will be requisite at this place than at Fort Clinton. It will be laid across in a place where vessels going up the river most usually lose their headway.6 Water-batteries may be built on both sides of the river for protecting the chain and annoying the ships coming up the river, which will be completely commanded from the walls of the Fort. There are so many passes across the mountains to this place, that it will be almost impossible for the enemy to prevent the militia from coming to the relief of the garrison.
"From these considerations, the Committee are led to conclude that most proper place of obstruct the navigation of the river is at West Point; but are at the same time fully convinced that no obstructions on the banks of the river can effectually secure et country, unless a body of light troops, to consist of at least two thousand effective men, be constantly stationed in the mountains while the navigation of the river is practicable, to obstruct the enemy in their approach by land.
"Jno. Sloss Hobart, "Henry Wisner, "John Hathorn, "Zeph. Platt.
"Poughkeepsie, Jan. 14th, 1778."7
Immediately following the reception of this report, on or about the 20th of January, the brigade of General p56Parsons crossed over to the Point, and notwithstanding the severity of the winter, and a deep fall of snow on the ground, operations were commenced.
Without shelter, materials for building, or proper tools to labor with, a work was laid out on the northeast angle of the Plain, and a series of water-batteries commanded by it, were located on the eastern front by Lieutenant-Colonel Radière, Engineer, under the supervision of Major-General Putnam.
Radière, an impatient, petulant officer, planned the work at the outset, on a scale entirely too large. He required means altogether beyond the resources at command, and projected curtains, banquettes, and terre-pleins sufficient to enclose the greater portion of the north and east crest of the river's bank.8
Embarrassing as this display of science was, the work of construction progress das rapidly as the difficulties first mentioned would permit and zealous means were taken to carry out the recommendation of the Committee to obstruct the navigation of the river.
By direction of General Putnam, Hugh Hughes, Deputy Quartermaster-General, visited the Stirling Iron Works9 of Noble, Townsend and Company on the 2nd of February, and entered into a contract with the proprietors to construct a chain. This contract was as follows:
"Articles of Agreement between Noble, Townsend and Company, proprietors of the Stirling Iron Works, p57in the State of New York, of one part, and Hugh Hughes, Deputy Quartermaster-General to the Army of the United States, of the other part, witnesseth:—
"That the said Noble, Townsend and Company, jointly and severally engage to have made and ready to be delivered at their works to the said Hugh Hughes, Deputy Quartermaster-General, or to the Deputy Quartermaster-General of the Middle Department for the time being, on or before the first day of April next ensuing the date hereof, or as much sooner as circumstances will admit, an iron chain of the following dimensions and quality: that is, in light five hundred yards, each link about two feet long, to be made of the best Stirling iron, two inches and one-quarter square, or as near thereto as possible, with a swivel to every hundred feet, and a clevis to every thousand feet, in the same manner as those of the former chain.
"The said Noble, Townsend and Company also engage to have made and ready to be delivered at least twelve tons of anchors of the after this iron, and of such sizes as the said Hugh Hughes or his successors in office shall direct, in writing, as soon as the completion of the chain will admit.
"In consideration of which the said Hugh Hughes, in behalf of the United States, agrees to pay to the said Noble, Townsend and Company, or their order, at the rate of four hundred and forty pounds10 for every ton weight of chain and anchors delivered as before mentioned, unless the general regulations on trade, provisions, &c., which are now supposed to be framed by p58deputies from the United States, shall be published and take effect before the expiration of four months from the date of this; in which case the price is to be only ¢400 per ton for the said chain and anchors. The payment, if demanded, to be made in such proportion as the work shall be ready to be delivered, which shall be determined in ten days after requisition made by a number of competent judges, not less than three nor more than five, unconcerned with the proprietors, or the works, and, if condemned, to be completed at the expense of the said Company, who are also to repair, as after this, all failures of their work, whenever happening, whether at the works or river, or in extending it across.
"The said Hugh Hughes also engages to procure of the Governor of this State, for the said Noble, Townsend and Company, an exemption for nine months from the date hereof, from military duty, for sixty artificers that are steadily employed at the said chain and anchors till completed. Agreeable to the said exemption, the said Company complying weight terms thereof. Providing also that the said Company give the said Hugh Hughes, or his successors in office, the refusal, by letter, of all bar iron, anchors, &c. made at the said works in the said term of nine months, at the current price, unless what is necessary to exchange for clothing and other articles for the use of the works.
"It is also agreed, by the said parties, that if the teams of the said Company shall transport the said chain or anchors, or any part thereof, to any assigned post, they shall receive for such services the same pay as shall be given by the United States for the like; the p59teams of the Company being exempted from impress by any of the Quartermaster-General's deputies during the space of nine months.
"Lastly, the said Company engage to use their utmost endeavors to keep seven fires at forging and ten at welding, if assisted with such hands as are necessary and can be spared from the army, in case of their not being able to procure others, the said Company making destruction for their labor.
"In witness whereof, the parties have interchangeably subscribed are names this second day of February, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, and in the second year of American Independence.
"Peter Townsend, "In behalf of Noble & Company.
"Hugh Hughes,11 "In behalf of United States.
"In present of "P. Tillinghast."12
On the 11th of February, General Putnam wrote to the Commander-in‑chief as follows:
"At my request the Legislature of this State have p60appointed a Committee to affix the places and manner of securing the river, and to afford some assistance in expediting the work. The state of affairs now at this post, you will observe, is as follows: the chain and necessary anchors are contracted for, to be completed by the first of April; and from the intelligence I have received, I have reason to believe they will be completed by that time. Parts of the boom intended to have been used at Fort Montgomery, sufficient for this place, are remaining. Some of the iron is exceedingly bad; this I hope to have replaced with good iron soon. The chevaux-de‑frise will be completed by the time the river will admit of sinking them at (Pollopel's Island). The batteries near the water, and the Fort to cover them, are laid out. The latter is, within the walls, six hundred yards around, twenty-one feet base, fourteen feet high, the ¬talus¬ two inches to the foot. This, I fear, is too large to be completed by the time expected. Governor Clinton and the Committee have agreed to this plan; and nothing on my part shall be wanted to complete it in the best and most expeditious manner. Barracks and huts for about three hundred men are completed, and barracks for about the same number are nearly covered. A road13 to the river has been made with great difficulty."
On the day following the date of this report, General Putnam left West Point for Connecticut, to attend to some private affairs, leaving the prosecution of the defences in charge of Brigadier-General Parsons, who reported, p61on the 18th of February, "that almost every obstacle within the circle of possibility has happened of retard their progress. Preparations [continues this oft] for completing them in April are now in a state of forwardness, unless something unforeseen as yet should prevent."
Again, from the "Camp at West Point, March 7, 1778," General Parsons communicated to Washington the perplexities arising from the Acts of Congress relative to the direction of the works, and declared:
"I most ardently wish to aid Governor Clinton, or any other gentleman appointed to superintend the work. At present, no person has the direction. I have kept the troops at work because I found them here when I took the command. The weather has been such, since the 15th of February, as has greatly retarded the works — about seven days of the time has been such that we could do nothing.
"Lieutenant-Colonel Radière, finding it impossible to complete the Fort and other defences intended at this post, in such a manner as to render them effectual early in the spring, and not choosing to hazard his reputation on works erected on a different scale, calculated for a short duration only, has desired leave to wait on Your Excellency and Congress, which I have granted him."
On the 16th of March, General Parsons reported: "If the chain is completed we shall be ready to stretch it over the river next week. I hope to have two sides and one bastion of the Fort in some state of defence in about a fortnight; the other sides need very little to secure them. We have the works going on as fast as could be expected from our small number of men and total want p62of money and materials provided. I have several times advanced my last shilling towards purchasing materials, &c., and I believe this is the case with almost every officer here."14
The absence of General Putnam still continued, and the people of the Province, still regarding the works as under his command, and greatly incensed at the course he had pursued as Commander in the Highlands, refused to render the necessary assistance while he remained even nominally at the head of the Department; indeed, the current of public opinion ran so strongly against him, that on 16th of March, Washington ordered Major-General McDougall to repair to the Highlands, and assume the chief command there, comprehending "the Forts among the other objects of his trust."
Radière had left as early as the 11th of March, and, visiting Congress, was relieved from duty by the appointment of Kosciuszko as the Engineer, who arrived at the works on the 26th of March. General McDougall arrived on the 28th of the same month and assumed the command.
Colonel Rufus Putnam15 had early in the war been appointed an Engineer with the rank of Colonel, which position he subsequently resigned to take the command of a Massachusetts regiment, and with it he had shared p63the triumph of Gates over Burgoyne. Early in March he was ordered with his regiment to repair to West Point, at which post he arrived at the same time with General McDougall. As he had been a co-laborer with Kosciuszko under General Gates at the North, his practical skill and experience rendered him a valuable assistant to advise in concert with the Engineer.
Operations were at once resumed, and pushed forward with great vigor. "As the Fort then in progress was designed to annoy the enemy's shipping, should they attempt to turn the Point and force the boom a little higher up, no provision existed against a land attack in its rear. A chain of Forts and redoubts was therefore laid out on the high ground bordering the plain." [Forts Wyllis, Webb, and Putnam.]
"The principal Fort was built by Putnam's own regiment, and was named by General McDougall, Fort Putnam. It stood on an elevated rock eminence commanding both the plain and the Point. This rock sloped gradually to the plain on one side, while to the assailants [in rear] it presented a mural front of fifty feet perpendicular."16
Colonel Putnam joined the army at Peekskill in the following June.
On the 11th of April, 1778, General McDougall issued to General Parsons the following
"The hill which Colonel Putnam is fortifying is the most commanding and important of any that we can now p64attend to. Although it is secure in the rear from escalade, yet as it is practicable to annoy the garrison from Snook Hill, the parapet in the rear should be made cannon-proof against such as may be fired from Snook Hill. The parapet should be raised as much as possible with fascines and earth, to prevent the ill consequence of splinters from the rocks. The easternmost face of this work must be so constructed as to command the plain on which Colonel Putnam's regiment is now encamped, and annoy the enemy if he should force the works now erecting by Colonel Meigs' and Colonel Wyllis' regiments, as well as to command the northernmost and highest part of the ground last mentioned, which commands the plain in the rear of the principal works at West Point. A temporary magazine should be built without delay on Colonel Putnam's hill, and have ten days' provision, of salt meat and biscuit, for his regiment, deposited on the hill as soon as it arrives at West Point. This store must not be broke in upon on any pretence, till the enemy appears in force, and puts it out of Colonel Putnam's power to procure supplies from West Point. The next principal ground to be occupied for the safety of the Post, is the rising ground to the northward of the Fort, nearest northwest corner of the Long Barrack. It will be necessary to erect a redoubt on this ground, capable of containing have and twenty men. The west, north, and east faces should be proof against battering cannon, and the south slightly palisaded to guard against surprise. The westernmost face, flanked by the fire of the Fort, must be ditched, and to mount two pieces of cannon. The north face strongly abbatised. The parapet of the west face should be raised so p65high, if practicable, as to cover the garrison from the fire that may be made against it from the ground on which Colonel Putnam is now encamped. This redoubt is so important, that it must be finished without delay. The chain to be fixed on the west side, in or near the Gap of the Snook, commanded by the fire from the east curtain of the work. The water-batteries now erected on the Point, to be completed as soon as possible, and two cannon placed in each, with the necessary shot and stores placed near them; if any of the cannon to be placed there require to be proved, it must be done before they are brought into the batteries. Such provisions as are on the Plain, to be removed into the Fort on the enemy's first appearing in force on the river, and no quantity left out at any time. Two small temporary magazine sf ammunition to be made in the Fort for the present, to guard against rain; one also to be made for that of the cannon, in the batteries on the Point.
"It must be left to the discretion of the commanding officer at West Point, all circumstances considered, when to fire the alarm. In case of this event taking place in the present state of the works, the security of the Fort depends so much on the heights in the rear, on which the greatest force should be placed, that the commanding officer at West Point should take his quarters on the hill Colonel Putnam is now fortifying. Colonel Meigs's regiment, now at Robinson's farm, on hearing the alarm, will repair to West Point by the safest and securest passage. Six companies of his and Colonel Wyllis's regiment will take post in the works they are respectively erecting. The other two companies, with the invalids of the post and artificers, are to garrison the Fort, p66under the orders of Major Grosvenor. Colonel Webb's regiment is to take post in the works they are now making, and Colonel Sherburn's to defend the redoubt to be erected near the northwest corner of the Long Barrack. Colonel Putnam's to take post on the hill which they are now fortifying, and not to be ordered from thence, but such detachments as he or the commanding officer at the Post may judge necessary to secure the avenues to his works. Should the enemy force the regiments of Colonels Wyllis, Meigs and Webb from their works, it will be most advancive of the defence of the hills, which command the Fort, that those corps retire to defend to the last extremity, the avenues leading to Colonel Putnam's redoubt, and the ground on which he is now encamped, unless some manoeuvre of the enemy should induce the commanding officer of the post to detach some of those corps for security of Putnam's redoubt. If the ground on which the enemy intend to land, or the route on which he advances to our works, render it necessary to detach any corps to oppose him, it must be taken from the works erecting by Colonel Wyllis's, Meigs's or Colonel Webb's regiment, and not from the Fort, or Putnam's redoubt, as in case of misfortune, the enemy's possessing the works first mentioned, will not be so fatal to the Post as his getting possession of the Fort, or Putnam's redoubt."
"P. S. The west face of the redoubt to be built near the Long Barrack, to be eighteen feet [high], the north and east faces fourteen feet; the stones to be kept as much as possible from the upper part of the parapet of the works."17
p67 Two days after the foregoing instructions were issued [13th], General McDougall wrote that "the Fort was so nearly enclosed as to resist a sudden attack of the enemy; but the heights near it were such that the Fort would not be tenable if the enemy should possess them. For this reason we are obliged to make some works on them.
"Mr. Kosciuszko is esteemed by those who have attended the works at West Point to have more practice than Colonel Radière,18 and his manner of treating the people is more acceptable than that of the latter, which induced General Parsons and Governor Clinton to desire the former may be continued at West Point."19
On the 18th of April, Colonel Robert Troup wrote from Fishkill to General Gates, President of the Board of War, that the works at West Point were in a great state of forwardness; that Kosciuszko20 was very much p68esteemed as an able engineer, and that the latter had made many alterations in the works, which were universally approved.
The chain, he added, "will be put across the river this week, and if enemy let us alone two weeks longer, we shall have reason to rejoice at their moving this way."21
1 Gates, MSS. N. Y. Hist. Col.
2 Gates, MSS. N. Y. Hist. Col.
3 Sparks's Writings of Washington, V.178.
4 Jour. Prov. Conv., 1113.
5 Jour. Prov. Conv., 1118.
6 Those who are acquainted with the place where the obstruction was fastened to the shore, will see the force of this description. A point of land here juts out into the stream abruptly, and compels vessels, sailing under even the most favorable breeze, to make such change in their course as will materially lessen their headway.
7 Jour. Prov. Conv., 1117.
8 Zodiac, Nov., 1835, 67.
9 The Stirling Iron Works are still in operation. They are situated on the outlet of Stirling Pond, about five miles southwest of the Sloatsburgh Station, on the Erie Railway. They are owned by descendants of Peter Townsend, and have now been in operation about one hundred years.
10 Continental money, probably.
11 Hugh Hughes was of Welsh origin, born in 1727. He resided in New Jersey in 1765, removing to New York the same or in the following year.
Closely identified with the Revolutionists in 1769, he was appointed in 1776, by the Provincial Convention, Commissary of Military Stores, and by Washington, Deputy Quartermaster-General of the forces.
Resigning in 1778, he was in 1780 urgently solicited by Colonel Pickering, then Quartermaster-General, to resume his former rank in the American Army, which invitation was accepted. In this capacity he served throughout the war until 1784, at which time he was elected a member of the General Assembly from the city of New York. The writings of Washington and General Greene furnish strong testimony to his spotless integrity and fitness for the faithful discharge of his duties. He died at Tappan, March 15, 1802.
12 Copy of original in Clinton Papers, State Library.
13 This road, doubtless, was the one leading down to Gee's Point. "Villefranche's" Map shows a road to, and a dock at, that place in 1780. The road is yet visible.
14 Early Settlers of Ohio. — Hildreth.
15 Rufus Putnam was born April 9, 1738, at Sutton, Massachusetts, and enlisted as a soldier on 15th March, 1757, to serve in the French war. After the outbreak of the Revolution he joined a Massachusetts regiment, and at Boston, Roxbury, &c., he displayed marked abilities as an Engineer. On the 11th of August, 1774, he was appointed by congress an Engineer weight rank of Colonel. Resigned to take the command of the 5th Massachusetts Regiment, Dec. 8, 1776. Brigadier-General January 8th, 1783. Resigned February 16, 1793; died in May, 1824. — [Hildreth's Early Settlers of Ohio.]
16 Early Settlers of Ohio, 73. — Hildreth.
17 Zodiac, Nov., 1835, 67.
18 Colonel Louis Deshaix de la Radière, was one of four Engineers sent over from France by the Commissioners Franklin and Deane, and was employed by order of Congress. On the 8th of July, 1777, he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of Engineers, in accordance with a Treaty made in France, Feb. 13, 1777; promoted to the rank of Colonel, Nov. 17, 1777; retained at reorganization of the Army, January, 1779, and died in service, at New Windsor [in camp], on the 30th of October, 1779, in the 35th year of his age. Phila. Packet, Nov. 9, 1779.
19 Writings of Washington, Sparks, V, 311.
20 Thaddeus Kosciuszko was born in Lithuania, Poland, in 1756, and educated in the Military School at Warsaw. Under the auspices of Franklin, he came to America and was appointed an Aide to Washington. In October, 1776, he was appointed by Congress an Engineer, with the rank of Colonel. In this capacity he served as the Chief Engineer of the Northern Army against Burgoyne, and was subsequently assigned to the works in progress at West Point, where his reputation became greatly increased. He remained in service until the close of the War, receiving the thanks of Congress, and the grade of Brigadier-General by Brevet, Oct. 13, 1783. Returning to his native country in July, 1784, and becoming identified with the Polish Revolution, he there rose to the rank of Major-General under Poniatowski. On the 10th of October, 1794, he was captured by the Russians and confined at St. Petersburg.
After his liberation he visited the United States, in 1787, at which time Congress presented him with a grant of land.
He died in Switzerland, Oct. 16, 1817, and was buried at Warsaw, with the highest honors. — [Encyclopaedia Americana.]
21 Gates, MSS. N. Y. Hist. Col.
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