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Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park

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Vocabulary

  • Fort Griswold – an American defensive fortification in Groton, CT on the Thames River that played a key role in the American Revolutionary War.
  • Continental Army – created after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War to coordinate the efforts of the Thirteen colonies in their fight against the rule of Great Britain.
  • Earthen Rampart – a defensive wall or protective barrier made primarily of a large bank of soil (earthworks) rather than stone works.

About the Battle

Fort Griswold was completed in 1778 and was part of a battle with the British on Sept, 6 1781. The British army was under the command of Benedict Arnold (from Norwich) who knew the area and layout of the Fort. The British forces divided and some captured Fort Trumbull and burned New London, while another group (800 men) attacked and captured Fort Griswold. Lieutenant Colonel William Ledyard commanded Fort Griswold with 157 men and had no intention of surrendering.

Legends about the battle:

  • New London was a friendly port for privateers who attacked British ships. As new ships were captured, 3 cannon shots were fired to inform the residents. If the fort was under attack, then 2 cannon shots were fired. As the British came near, the fort fired 2 shots, but Benedict Arnold shot the third so the local folks would not come to the fort’s defense.
  • When the British attacked the fort, it is said that the American’s dropped its flag to falsely indicate surrender. The British went up to the fort but many were killed, and then the Americans raised the flag again.
  • When Ledyard surrendered, a British commanding officer stabbed and killed Ledyard with the sword he was offering to surrender. Some theorize that it was actually Ledyard’s own troops who wanted to surrender.

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