Westport’s First Selectman, Jim Marpe, will proclaim April 2017 “American Revolution Month” in recognition of the 240th anniversary of The Danbury Raid when the British landed at Compo Beach and raided Patriot supplies in Danbury.
“The 1777 raid was the most important military action by the British in Southwest Connecticut during the war,” Marpe said. “Today it is mostly remembered in the cannons at Compo Beach, the Minute Man Monument and a plaque showing where the Red Coats forded the Saugatuck River on their way back to their ships at Compo. American Revolution Month will give everyone an opportunity to take a more complete look at Westport’s most historic event.”
The Westport Historical Society will join the town in memorializing the raid – and the resistance by militia troops under the command of Brigadier General Benedict Arnold – with a month-long exhibit at Wheeler House, 25 Avery Place. The main exhibit, in the Sheffer Gallery, will feature maps of the British troop movements, accounts of skirmishes between Red Coats and Patriots at Ridgefield and Compo Hill, portraits of the principal commanders, and displays of uniforms and weaponry. The smaller Mollie Donovan Room will have an exhibit about life in Westport during the Revolution.
The Danbury Raid was prompted by intelligence from Loyalists indicating that the Patriots had gathered a large store of military supplies and food in Danbury. The British thought their raid would encounter only scant resistance since most of Connecticut’s Continental Army regulars had been sent to New Jersey to reinforce Gen. George Washington.
After the skirmish at Ridgefield, Arnold withdrew to Westport’s Old Hill, where he would have a commanding position from which to fire his cannons at the British as they approached the King’s Highway Bridge over the Saugatuck. Arnold’s plan failed, however, when loyalists accompanying the British led them to an upstream ford known only to locals. This incident is recounted in “The Bridge Not Taken,” a book published by the Westport Historical Society and available in the Gift Shop, in 2002 to mark the 225th anniversary of The Danbury Raid.