Friday, April 27, 2012
Learn our History Today: April 27
Learn Our History Today: During the Revolutionary War on April 27, the Battle of Ridgefield was fought in the state of Connecticut. Although it is called the Battle of Ridgefield, it was actually a series of different little battles that all took place on April 27, 1777. Two days before the battle, British forces landed in Connecticut and quickly set out to destroy Continental Army supplies located in Danbury, Connecticut.
They easily destroyed the supplies in Danbury as there were few continentals there to guard them, but word of these actions spread quickly and Major General David Wooster, Brigadier General Benedict Arnold, and Brigadier General Gold S. Silliman hastily assembled a mixed force of 700 continentals and militiamen. Unfortunately for the Americans, by the time they got to Danbury the supplies had already been destroyed. They now turned their focus to harassing the redcoats on their return to their landing site. A small company under the command of General Wooster struck the British first, right as the redcoats were enjoying their breakfast. He attacked the British twice, the first time he and his men killed two redcoats and captured another forty.
The second time however, the British were much better prepared and they gave the Americans a fierce fight, in which Wooster was mortally wounded. This engagement gave Arnold and Silliman just enough time to set up defenses in the town of Ridgefield. When the British arrived they fought a running battle with the continentals and managed to capture the entire town. Benedict Arnold had an extremely close call during this fight when his horse was killed and he was pinned under it as the redcoats charged him and his troops.
A British soldier ran up to him demanding he surrender, but Arnold instead answered with a pistol shot, killing the redcoat. Arnold managed to escape these dire straits with simply a small leg wound. For many Americans the name Benedict Arnold is synonymous with traitor, but prior to turning on his country Arnold fought valiantly for it. Although this battle was technically a British victory, the actions of the continentals made for much stronger American sympathy in the State of Connecticut.
Also on April 27, 1813, one of the first major land battles of the war of 1812 war fought near York in Canada. American troops, under the command of Brigadier General Zebulon Pike, battled the British for more than three hours after landing near the city of York. After losing 62 killed and 94 wounded, British commander Sir Roger Sheaffe decided to pull out of the City of York. First, however, he ordered the destruction of the main powder magazine at the government house. General Pike and his men were just arriving at the government house when it exploded, sending stones and chunks of debris careening hundreds of feet through the air. This massive explosion killed thirty-eight Americans and wounded two hundred and twenty-two.