Monday, April 25, 2016

The British Are Coming … to the Westport Historical Society

The Westport Historical Society will host a lecture on marking the 239th anniversary of Tryon's Raid, the Revolutionary War engagement that began with 1,800 British troops landing at Compo Beach on April 28 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m..

As many Westport residents may know, the four-day raid, which started on April 25, 1777, saw the British fighting two battles with Colonial forces along the way. It was led by Maj. Gen. William Tryon, royal governor of the New York province.
The lecture will be given by Ed Hynes, a Merrill Lynch financial advisor whose interest in the American Revolution dates to his childhood growing up in Wilton next to a home that was partially burned by Tryon's soldiers.
Hynes will discuss the raid in the overall context of the war, 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.
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 whom had lived in this area and was able to lead the British across the river at a ford upstream near present-day Red Coat Road, avoiding the ambush.
This 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.
Concerning the division of opinion among Colonists, Hynes notes that Ridgefield's Town Council actually voted not to support the Revolution, and that a Redding militia linked to that town's Anglican Church was disbanded by Connecticut's governor because it refused to support Gen. George Washington's troops.
Hynes' talk is an opportunity to learn about important historical events that occurred right here in Westport. He will speak for about 50 minutes, and then take questions from the audience. Copies of a map for the raid prepared by one of Tryon's officers will be handed out to attendees.
The cost of the program is $5 per person. For more information, call (203) 222-1424 to register. Light refreshments will be served.
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