The Defenders’ Monument, located at the intersection where Columbus and Davenport avenues meet Ella Grasso Boulevard (Route 10) in New Haven, commemorates the more than 150 local militia and students who combined to harass British troops who invaded the city on July 5, 1779.
During the invasion, British troops attempting to capture a powder mill in the city’s Westville section were repulsed by New Haven residents and militia, including forces from nearby towns. The troops eventually began looting nearby homes and businesses, and spent the night on the New Haven green. The next morning, the troops returned to their ships (burning several warehouses near the harbor along the way) and sailed to Fairfield on July 7.
During the attack, 27 residents were killed.
The monument was dedicated in 1910, and depicts the combined efforts of local militia, residents and students in defending the city. As you can see from a vintage postcard (with a 1913 postmark), the gentleman on the left (as you face the monument) used to carry a ramrod that has been lost to vandalism or theft over the years. Now he’s primarily lending moral support. Also, the monument has been fenced in, perhaps in response to the ramrod disappearance.
Artist and sculptor James E. Kelly was also responsible for at least a dozen historic monuments, including the statues of John Buford in Gettysburg, George Washington at New York’s Federal Hall and the Monmouth Battle Monument in New Jersey.
The monument sits at the base of a small park that’s flanked by two cemeteries (St. Bernard’s to the south and Evergreen to the north). Both include Civil War monuments that will be featured in a future entry.
Update: The British troop landing site at West Haven’s Bradley Point is commemorated with a plaque on a small boulder.
-Vision in the Sky, New Haven’s Early Years 1638-1783. Myrna Kagan, Linnet Books, 1989.
-Burpee’s the Story of Connecticut, Charles W, Burpee, American Historical Company, Inc., 1939