Putnam Memorial State Park has the prestige of being Connecticut’s first state park. The “Valley Forge” of Connecticut, this park was the site of the Winter Encampment of Continental Army troops led by General Israel Putnam, from December 1778 to May 1779.
Recommended by Colonel Aaron Burr, the site was chosen for its proximity to West Point and Long Island Sound, both vital points of defense during the American Revolution. This site was also close to the Danbury Supply Depot, which supplied Washington’s Army.
A stroll through Putnam Memorial State Park presents a hands-on history lesson for the entire family. The park’s main entrance is flanked by cannons and miniature blockhouses. Keeping with tradition, Putnam’s troops burnt their barracks before departing camp. All that remain are piles of stone known as firebacks from the collapsed chimneys. Firebacks line the path for nearly a quarter mile. Each fireback marks the location of a log hut. The encampment’s 116 huts housed 8 to 12 men each.
In addition to the firebacks, Putnam Park features well-preserved Revolutionary War chimneys.
Local legend tells of a soldier named Philip, who returned from the Revolutionary War to take up residency in this cave, which is actually a glacially formed plucked rock shelter.
What was previously thought to have been a cemetery has recently been found to be the quarters of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Dearborn, a high-ranking officer of the Revolution.