The British are Coming !

The Westport Historical Society will host a lecture on Saturday, April 26, at 2 p.m. marking the 237th anniversary of Tryon’s Raid, the Revolutionary War engagement that began with 1,500 British troops landing at Compo Beach.

compo beach westport ct copy

This four-day raid, which started on April 25, 1777, saw the British march to Danbury, where they burned Patriot supplies, then return to their ships, two battles with Colonial forces along the way. The incursion was led by Maj. Gen. William Tryon, Royal Governor of the New York province.

As his troops marched back to Compo, Tryon got wind that Patriots under Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold were waiting for him at a bridge at Kings Highway where he had to cross the Saugatuck River. Luckily for Tryon, he was accompanied by a unit of Loyalists, one of whose members had lived in this area. The Loyalist was able to lead the invaders across the river at a ford upstream near present-day Red Coat Road, helping the British avoid the ambush. The site of that crossing is now designated by a historical marker.

The episode inspired the book “The Bridge Not Taken” by Wilton land surveyor Damon Greenleaf Duncan, copies of which are available in the WHS’ gift shop.

The lecture will be given by Ed Hynes, whose interest in the American Revolution dates to his childhood in Wilton, where he lived next to a home that was partially burned by Tryon’s soldiers. Hynes will look at the raid in the context of the war and discuss the commanders on both sides and “things quite smart and not so smart” on both sides, including how “the Brits outwitted” the Patriots on their return to Compo. This incident took place in our own back yard and highlights an interesting aspect of the war: the extent to which local Colonists were divided for and against the Revolution.

Hynes will speak for about 50 minutes, then take questions from the audience. There will be a handout of maps to help attendees follow the action. The cost of the program is $5 and reservations are required, please call (203) 222-1424 or visit for more information.

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