Israel Putnam Monument, Greenwich

Greenwich honors the escape of Gen. Israel Putnam from British forces during the American Revolution with a monument on East Putnam Avenue (Route 1).

The monument stands at the top of a steep hill, near the corner of East Putnam Avenue and Old Church Road, down which Putnam reportedly rode as British forces invaded Greenwich.

The monument bears a plaque on its west face reading, “This marks the spot where on February 26, 1779, Gen. Israel Putnam, cut off from his soldiers cut off from his soldiers and pursued by British Cavalry, galloped down this rocky steep and escaped, daring to lead where not one of many hundred foes dared to follow.”

Accounts differ about the details of Putnam’s escape, and legends describing the event have been embellished enough over the years that figuring out what really happened is somewhat difficult.

Most accounts agree Putnam rode down the hill as part of a retreat of outnumbered Continental forces stationed in Greenwich. Putnam is believed to have been at nearby Knapp’s Tavern as British troops arrived.

Putnam was heading to Stamford to gather reinforcements and warn residents when he rode his horse down a steep hillside into which crude steps had been carved.

Most accounts have British cavalry deciding not to chase Putnam down the hillside, and some say a ball fired from a British pistol struck Putnam’s hat.

Standing at the top of the hillside, it looks like a pretty dangerous place to ride, especially on a cold February day. No doubt the horse wasn’t thrilled about the idea, either.

The vintage postcard near the bottom of this post depicts a since-removed bench overlooking the hillside. The fence visible in the postcard appears to be the same one at the site today.

The event is commemorated in other locations as well. Knapp’s Tavern was converted in 1906 into the Putnam Cottage museum.

A statue by Anna Hyatt Huntington in Putnam Memorial State Park depicts Putnam’s downhill escape from the British.

Founders’ Monument, Greenwich

Greenwich honors its founders with a monument on East Putnam Avenue (Route 1).

The monument, near the intersection of East Putnam Avenue and Maple Avenue, was dedicated in 1935 by the Daughters of the American Colonists to honor the town’s first English settlers.

The monument features a bronze plaque attached to the southern face of a boulder. The plaque bears a dedication reading, “In memory of the courageous men who founded the first settlement of the Town of Greenwich in the Connecticut Colony, July 18, 1640.”

The monument also includes two lists of names reflecting the assembly of Greenwich from two land purchases from Native Americans.

The first purchase, in 1640, included today’s Old Greenwich section. The second, in 1672, included the Field Point section.

The upper section of the monument lists 10 residents who made the 1640 purchase.

The lower section of the monument lists 27 residents responsible for the Field Point purchase.

The founders’ monument stands at the base of a hill, below the 1890 Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

War Memorials, Greenwich

War Memorials, GreenwichThe town of Greenwich offers an impressive collection of monuments along Greenwich Avenue. 

A granite monument outside the Greenwich Commons “pocket park” (in front of the Board of Education offices) was dedicated in 1956 to honor those lost in World War II and subsequent conflicts. The monument depicts a WWII-era solider staring toward the south with a woman and a young girl kneeling or standing at his side. Beneath this image is the dedication “in reverent memory of those from the town of Greenwich who made the supreme sacrifice World War II Korea Vietnam”. 

In front of the monument, a large flagpole with an eight-sided granite base carries the names of Greenwich residents lost in World War II and Korea. Seven panels bear 185 names of World War II heroes, and one panel has 13 names of residents who were lost in Korea. 

To the south of the monument, a smaller granite marker carries 24 names of local residents killed in the Vietnam War. 

War Memorial, GreenwichNear this monument is a statue of military aviation pioneer Raynal C. Bolling, who was killed in the first world war. Beneath a bronze statue of Bolling looking to the sky is a simple inscription bearing only his last name. The rear of the monument is inscribed with his name and biographical information, as well as an explanation of Bolling’s role in the early days of military aerial combat.  

Bolling Air Force base in Washington, D.C, is named for the aviator. 

The sculptor of the Bolling monument, Edward Clark Potter, also created the lions outside the New York Public Library, the statue of General Henry Warner Slocum in Gettysburg and other monuments. 

Near the Bolling monument is a tree that was planted April 9, 1914 by the Grand Army of the Republic, the post-Civil War-era veteran’s organization. Unfortunately, the dedication listed on the bottom half of the marker (which has apparently been disturbed by the tree’s roots) is covered by grass and soil, and we didn’t think the local police would be pleased by the efforts of a monument blogger found uncovering the inscription. 

Raynal Bolling Memorial, GreenwichA little further south on Greenwich Avenue is the town’s World War monument, a 50-foot obelisk that sits in a small park in front of the town’s Post Office. The obelisk has a multi-sided base bearing the dedication “in honor of the men and women of Greenwich who served in the World War” as well as “in memory of those who died and an inspiration to all who follow.”

Another side of the base lists the following battles: Second Battle of the Marne, North Sea, St. Mihel, Ypres Lis, Meuse Argonne and Verdun. 

(The images in today’s post were taken in late February, when the tree near the World War monument still had Christmas decorations. The town’s Civil War monument, at Maple and East Putnam avenues, was highlighted in an earlier post.) 

 

 

 

World War Memorial, Greenwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

World War Monument, Greenwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Greenwich

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, GreenwichGreenwich’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, dedicated in 1890, sits on a hill at the intersection of East Putnam and Maple avenues. 

The monument is topped by a standard-bearer, similar to monuments in Unionville and St. Bernard’s Cemetery in New Haven that have been highlighted in previous posts. 

The Greenwich monument faces south, and an inscription just above the base bears the town name and a dedication “to her loyal sons who fought for the Union,” as well as the years of the Civil War. The front of the monument also lists three battle sites: Kingston (Ga.), Morris Island (S.C.) and Antietam.  

The east side of the monument lists Appomattox, Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Port Hudson (La.). The south side lists Drury’s Bluff, Petersburg and Deep Run (all in Virginia), and the west side lists New-Berne (N.C.) , Darbytown Road (Va.), Fort Fisher (N.C.) and Fort Gregg (S.C.). 

Across Maple Avenue, a 1932 plaque on the Second Congregational Church commemorates a 1789 visit by George Washington, who “paused here on the Post Road near this church and afterward wrote in his diary ‘the superb landscape which is to be seen from the meeting house is a rich regalia.’” The plaque was dedicated as part of Washington bicentennial celebrations. 

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Greenwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Greenwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, Greenwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington Visit Plaque, Greenwich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Connecticut Historical Society: Civil War Monuments of Connecticut