Thursday, October 4, 2018

Gov. Jonathan Trumbull and the Company of Grenadiers in the Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia





Governor Jonathan Trumbull
and 
The Company of Grenadiers in the 
Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia



During the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778, the Connecticut Council of Safety directed Governor Jonathan Trumbull to ask the "company of grenadiers at Woodstock, Pomfret and Killingly to exert and distinguish themselves on this occasion.”[1]




Photo: Grenadier, Company of Grenadiers, Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia
Revolutionary War Fashion Show, Historic Norwichtown Days, Norwichtown Green, Norwich, Connecticut, September 9-12, 1999.

Parade uniform: "While there is no proof of these caps not having been worn in battle, they were more likely laid aside when the companies were called into service, as most of the companies were provided with a working dress, and the caps and bright uniforms worn on dress occasions only."[2] 



Soldiers known as grenadiers were formed in the 17th century and were assigned to throw grenades. In the European system of warfare, a regiment was composed of companies of foot (infantry), which were flanked on one side by a grenadier company, and by a light infantry company on the other. The grenadiers were the equivalent of modern day "shock troops," they were the tallest and strongest men of the regiment. Their size was further increased by wearing the tall wool mitre caps, or per the British warrants of 1768, the bear-fur caps, and in some cases, military coats and clothing that was too small for them, to give the enemy the impression they were larger than life. In a pamphlet titled, "The Milford Grenadiers," by John W. Fowler, "Webster defines the name Grenadier, as a 'foot soldier, wearing a high cap,' and Johnson's Cyclopedia says, 'once the name of the soldier who hurled grenades (bombshells). In some armies a soldier of the first company of a batallion of foot troops. Grenadiers are chosen for their tall stature and fine appearance.' "[3] By the time of the American Revolution, the grenades were replaced with muskets, though the grenadiers continued as the elite company of the regiment.



Grenadier match case


Within the New England militia regiments, many "Independent Companies" were formed, including grenadier companies. Units such as the Salem Rangers, Pawtuxet Rangers, The Governor's Foot Guard, The Boston Grenadiers, Providence Grenadiers, and the Newport Light Infantry Company just to name a few. Military Historian Charles M. Lefferts elaborates further on this, "Throughout the Revolutionary War, there were no companies of grenadiers in the regular or Continental service, but in the New England Colonies and New York, independent grenadier and light infantry companies for service in the colony only, were very popular and perhaps more so than the other branches of the service. These companies had caps of cloth, bearskin, or leather, with fancy decorations, very few of them wearing the well-known cocked felt hat of the Continental soldier."[4] 

These "Independent Companies" were formed throughout New York and New England to promote military skills and discipline, above and beyond the annual training days of the militia.




Photo: Grenadier, Company of Grenadiers, Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia
Muster Field Farm Days Revolutionary War Encampment, North Sutton, New Hampshire, 
August 27-29, 1999.



In the Connecticut General Assembly on October 25, 1774, a proposal was made to form a grenadier company for each of the Connecticut militia regiments (Connecticut in the year 1739 formed all the local town militia companies into 13 organized militia regiments. The number of regiments would increase to 28 during the American Revolution. The companies from the towns of Pomfret, Woodstock, and Killingly would compose the 11th regiment of Connecticut militia.) which would be funded by a Colony tax of one cent per year. Previously, in May of 1774, the towns of Woodstock, Pomfret, and Killingly, Connecticut requested that the Connecticut General Assembly institute a Company of Grenadiers:

"Upon the memorial of Timothy Sabin and others, inhabitants of the towns of Pomfret, Woodstock and Killingly, in the county of Windham, shewing that with great pains, trouble and expence, some of the inhabitants of said towns have endeavoured to improve themselves in military skill and exercises, and praying that a company of Grenadiers be constituted and erected &c., as per memorial on file, [358] Resolved by this Assembly, That there be and there is hereby constituted, erected and made a distinct military company of grenadiers, to be formed out of the inhabitants of said three towns and to consist of sixty effective men, rank and file, exclusive of officers, and shall be distinguished by the name of the Company of Grenadiers in the eleventh regiment of militia in this Colony, and shall have and enjoy all the powers, privileges and immunities that other military companies within this Colony are invested with, and likewise shall do and perform the duties and services by law enjoined on other companies of militia. That they shall be subject to the command of the colonel or other chief officer of said eleventh regiment. That said company have liberty to be formed by voluntary inlistments out of the several companies of militia in said three towns, to compleat their number to sixty effective men, rank and file, exclusive of officers. That said company of grenadiers have liberty by their major vote to nominate their officers and appoint their days and times and places of meeting for military exercises over and above those already by law ordered, and be subject to the same penalties for non-attendance on military exercises or any breach of duty as other soldiers and companies of militia in the Colony are by law liable unto. That there shall be a captain, lieutenant and ensign in said company, chosen from time to time as there may be occasion by the vote of the officers and soldiers of said company present, all the officers and soldiers of said company having first had three days notice to meet for that purpose, who being allowed and established by this Assembly shall be commissioned as the officers of other military companies are commissioned; and the colonel or other chief officer of said is hereby impowered and directed, by himself or such officer as he shall appoint, to lead said company to the choice of their officers on their being first formed and inlisted.”[5] 




Conjectured company flag of the Company of Grenadiers 
Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia 
(No original exists)


Little of the records of this grenadier company still exist, except for about 30 pages of election depositions regarding the election of officers for the Grenadier Company in 1774, and various muster rolls naming the officers, etc. It was during the election of Officers in 1774, that a plan was revealed to rig the election. The Men of Woodstock and Abington made a deal that if Abington supported Daniel Lyon of Woodstock for Captain, Woodstock would support an Abington man for the rank of Ensign. The situation worsened when Ebenezer Williams, Colonel of the 11th Regiment ordered the election, even though many were absent. Daniel Lyon of Woodstock was elected as Captain, Peter Chandler of Pomfret, who was elected Lieutenant, declined the commission, stating that the election was illegal. The members present then elected Stephen Brown of Pomfret as Lieutenant, and Nathaniel Brown, Jr. of Killingly as Ensign.[6]


"[October, 1774.]

This Assembly do establish Daniel Lyon to be Captain of the company of grenadiers raised in the towns of Pomfret, Woodstock and Killingley.
This Assembly do establish Stephen Brown to be Lieutenant of the company of grenadiers raised in the towns of Pomfret, Woodstock and Killingley.
This Assembly do establish Nathaniel Brown Junr to be Ensign of the company of grenadiers raised in the towns of Pomfret, Woodstock and Killingley."[7]


During the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778, the Connecticut Council of Safety directed Governor Jonathan Trumbull to ask the "company of grenadiers at Woodstock, Pomfret and Killingly to exert and distinguish themselves on this occasion.”[8] It is known that the 11th Regiment was present at Tiverton Heights during the battle, and it is probably safe to assume that the company of grenadiers were there also. 



Conjectured Standard of the Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia 
(No original exists)



". . . We fix on our Standards and Drums the Colony arms, with the motto 'qui transtulit sustinet,' round it in letters of gold, which we construe thus: 'God, who transplanted us hither, will support us.' "[9] 



Bell of Arms, Company of Grenadiers, 11th Regiment Connecticut Militia 
Town of Plainfield 300th Anniversary 
Revolutionary War Encampment, July 10-11, 1999, Plainfield, Connecticut 



A list of members of the grenadier company who served in the Continental Army in 1777 is as follows, from Killingly; Barnew Tortolott, Comfort Woodart, Jose Joslen, Salvenus Perrey, Simeon Leonard, Jabez Leach, Jonathan Jenkes, David Runnels, Joseph Jinkes, Jacob Leavens, Abijah Fleng, and Jack Negrow. Also serving was Obediah Brown, Ebenezer Cheney of Ashford, Abnar Chapman of Colchester, and Abnar French of Canterbury.[10] 

The Grenadier Company of the Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia continued to serve throughout the American Revolution and the War of 1812. Historically the company and the regiment held annual training days up until around 1840 when the old militia regiments were dissolved. The grenadiers and militia trained on Woodstock common, and the troop of horse trained in Pomfret.[11]



Photo: Grenadier, Company of Grenadiers, Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia
Revolutionary War Fashion Show, Historic Norwichtown Days, Norwichtown Green, Norwich, Connecticut, September 9-12, 1999.




Pictured above are photographs of the re-created Company of Grenadiers. The grenadier is wearing a wool mitre cap based on an original in the Collections of the New York Historical Society. A photo of the cap also appears in the book, “Weapons of the American Revolution, and accoutrements” by Warren Moore.[12] The cap is of unquestionable Connecticut origin due to the three grape vines. The grape vines being the symbol of Connecticut for over 350 years. There is no information on either the wool mitre cap or coat worn by the Eleventh's Grenadier Company. This could be their wool mitre cap? If not, it most likely would have been of a similar shape and design, as seen by the uniform descriptions of other Connecticut grenadier companies, wearing grenadier caps of cloth well into the 19th century.

In 1774 there was an attempt to form a grenadier company for each of the Connecticut militia regiments which would be funded by a State tax of one cent per year. Only three Colonial Connecticut grenadier companies have surfaced, that have any form of documentation. The 1st and 2nd companies, Governor’s Foot Guards with their black fur grenadier caps, The Mansfield Grenadiers with scarlet caps trimmed and tasselled white, and the Eleventh’s Grenadier Company of which nothing has surfaced on either their caps or uniforms.

In 1782, 8 grenadiers are listed from the 20th Regiment of Connecticut Militia. They were part of "Captain Waterman's Company, [List of those detached agreeable to orders this Day, Rec'd from Benajah Leffingwell, Major of 20th Regt. in the State of Connecticut, Norwich, 19th Sept., 1782.]"[13] There also must have been more grenadier companies in the Connecticut militia during the American Revolution, because the "General Return of the Militia, 1782-83. [The following return represents the strength of the Militia toward the close of the war. It is headed: 'General return of Militia, Cavalry and Infantry of Connecticut, com'ded by his Excellency Jonathan Trumbull, Captain General, Oct. 28, 1782.  John Keyes, Adj. Gen.' - Trumbull Papers.]"[14] lists "574 Grenadiers."[15]



Detail of the winged epaulets on the shoulders of the re-created grenadier coat.
Grenadier coat fashioned by Elisha Bull Sutler. 



Detail of the bursting grenades on the turnbacks of the re-created grenadier coat.
Grenadier coat fashioned by Elisha Bull Sutler.



In the years following the Revolution, other grenadier companies were formed in Connecticut, and grenadier mitre caps of cloth were still being worn. The Milford Grenadier Company, raised in 1795, wore "pointed caps, about 18 inches high, of cloth, red front and buff back, with side edges and plume of ostrich feathers; a narrow frontlet was added afterwards, of same material."[16]  Their coat was scarlet with buff facings.[17] As stated earlier, the British warrants of 1768 replaced the wool mitre caps with bear fur, although examples of both Colonial and British wool mitre caps exist that were worn during the American Revolution, and by the Connecticut militia into the 19th century. The grenadier coat is based on an article written by Charles M. Lefferts, who stated that the coat for this cap would be blue with red facings,[18] and a contemporary painting of a "Grenadier of the Grenadier Company, New York Independent Forces,"[19] and a modern depiction of a "Grenadier, Captain John Lasher’s New York City Grenadier Company, 1775-1776."[20] The reproduced coat is of dark blue wool with red facings, white buttons (pewter) with the button holes lined in yellow. The coat also bears “winged epaulets,” and the bursting grenades on the turnbacks which differentiated a grenadier company from regular companies of foot, although some light infantry companies also wore winged epaulets. Charles M. Lefferts’ description of the cap is as follows,

“The cap is beautifully embroidered in white and yellow worsted, and as the photograph plainly shows, the designs were very carefully worked. It is made of coarse homespun cloth, the front bright red, with turn up red, and the back, blue with turn up red, the whole being bound with bright yellow silk. At the top is a small round pompon of mixed red and yellow worsted. The lining is of undyed linen.”[21]



Photo: Front view of the re-created Connecticut grenadier cap. Notice the three grape vines, the symbol of Connecticut since the mid seventeenth century. Also note the motto, "Aut Vinc Aut Mori," or, "Conquer or Die/Victory or Death," which also appears on the Bedford minuteman flag, which flew at Old North Bridge, possibly the oldest surviving flag in America. 


Photo: Rear view of the re-created Connecticut grenadier cap. Notice the grenade, which is usually standard on all grenadier caps, and the crossed swords and muskets.



Other Colonial wool or cloth mitre caps that were worn during the American Revolution are in existence. For example, in 1776, the 26th Continental Regiment of Foot from Massachusetts had a grenadier company. The companies wool mitre cap bears the grenade symbol and regimental number in Roman numerals. The cap also has a large embroidered “GW” for George Washington.[22][23]

Many of the caps, helmets, gorgets, sword plates, etc. that bore the Royal cypher of “GR”, were replaced with “GW” by the Colonials.

The mitre cap of the Providence Grenadiers also exists. The cap is painted, and bears Rhode Island’s symbol, the anchor, with a lion holding a grenade. It also has the State motto, “Hope”, and a scroll with the words, “God and Our Rights”. It also has two large letters, “PG", for the Providence Grenadiers.[24][25]




The Company of Grenadiers today


As mentioned in previous blog posts, I have been Captain of the Living History/Color Guard Detachment, the Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia for the past 24 years. We portray both the Company of Grenadiers and Captain Samuel Chandler's Company. The regiment is composed of members of the Gen. Israel Putnam Branch #4 of the Connecticut SAR, and we are a detachment of the Connecticut Line, Living History/Color Guard Unit of the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

The Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia returned to Brooklyn, Connecticut on Saturday September 29, 2018 to commemorate the 300th birthday of General Israel Putnam (1718-2018) during the Brooklyn Fall Festival. The last time we were in Brooklyn, Connecticut was back in April 27-30, 2000, when we participated in the 225th Anniversary of the Lexington Alarm, where we marched the roughly 23 miles from the Brooklyn Fairgrounds to the Massachusetts border, following the footsteps of Israel Putnam and the Connecticut militia in April 1775. 






Group photo (including members of the Company of Grenadiers, Eleventh Regiment Connecticut Militia) at the conclusion of the Connecticut March for Independence, 225th Anniversary of the Lexington Alarm, Connecticut/Massachusetts border, April 30, 2000.



Members of the Company of Grenadiers, Eleventh Regiment Connecticut Militia took part in the historic march. Connecticut March for Independence, 225th Anniversary of the Lexington Alarm, Brooklyn Connecticut to the Massachusetts border, April 27-30, 2000. 


Camp 1 - Revolutionary War encampment at the Brooklyn Fairgrounds - April 27-28, 2000.

























Camp 2 - Revolutionary War encampment at the Thompson Green - April 29-30, 2000.











On Tuesday June 1, 1790, the Company of Grenadiers in the Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia lead the procession, and fired a three volley musket salute at the funeral of General Israel Putnam in Brooklyn, Connecticut.[26] On Saturday September 29, 2018, 228 years later, the Company of Grenadiers in the Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia lead the procession, and fired a three volley musket salute to commemorate the 300th birthday of General Israel Putnam.





Photo: Members of the Connecticut Line CTSSAR (Company of Grenadiers, Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia, Putnam's Detachment) fire a three volley musket salute at the Gen. Israel Putnam monument, Saturday September 29, 2018, in commemoration of Gen. Israel Putnam's 300th birthday.




Guest Ribbon
General Israel Putnam Monument Dedication
Brooklyn, Connecticut
June 14, 1888



Photos: Scarecrow contest during the 2018 Brooklyn Fall Festival. 
We dressed the Scarecrow as a Grenadier on sentry duty to guard the Revolutionary War camp
of the Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia. Saturday September 29, 2018. 








Anyone having more information on either the Connecticut Grenadier Cap, the Company of Grenadiers, or the Eleventh Regiment of Connecticut Militia, please contact me. I am always searching for more information to better portray and understand Connecticut’s vital and unique role in the American Revolution.


References:

1) The Public Records of the State of Connecticut, from May, 1778, to April, 1780, inclusive, with the Journal of the Council of Safety from May 18, 1778, to April 23, 1780, and an Appendix, Charles J. Hoadley, LL.D., Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, 1895, Page 102.
2) The Connecticut Grenadier Cap, Charles M. Lefferts, The New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin, Vol. IV, April, 1920, No. 1, Published by the Society and issued to members, New York, Page 21.
3) The History of the Milford Grenadiers. Their Origin, Progress and Disbandment, with a List of the Officers and Members., John W. Fowler, The Sentinel Office, Milford, Conn., 1876, Page 3.
4) The Connecticut Grenadier Cap, Charles M. Lefferts, The New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin, Vol. IV, April, 1920, No. 1, Published by the Society and issued to members, New York, Page 21.
5) The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, from October, 1772, to April, 1775, Inclusive, Charles J. Hoadley, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, 1887, Pages 308-309. 
6) The Connecticut State Archives, Militia Series 1 & 2, Connecticut State Library, Hartford, CT.
7) The Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, from October, 1772, to April, 1775, Inclusive, Charles J. Hoadley, Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, 1887, Pages 308-343. 
8) The Public Records of the State of Connecticut, from May, 1778, to April, 1780, inclusive, with the Journal of the Council of Safety from May 18, 1778, to April 23, 1780, and an Appendix, Charles J. Hoadley, LL.D., Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Company, Hartford, 1895, Page 102.
9) A letter dated Wethersfield, April 23, 1775, Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution, Adjutants-General, Hartford, 1889, Page 4. 
10) Lists and Returns of Connecticut Men in the Revolution, 1775-1783, Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, Vol. 12, Published by the Society, Hartford, 1909, Pages 137-138. 
11) The History of Woodstock, Connecticut, Clarence Winthrop Bowen, PH.D., LL.D., The Plimpton Press, Norwood, Mass., USA, 1926.
12) Weapons of the American Revolution and Accoutrements, Warren Moore, Promontory Press, New York, 1967, Page 195.
13) Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution, Adjutants-General, Hartford, 1889, Page 588.
14) Ibid. Page 447.
15) Ibid. Page 447.
16) The History of the Milford Grenadiers. Their Origin, Progress and Disbandment, with a List of the Officers and Members., John W. Fowler, The Sentinel Office, Milford, Conn., 1876, Page 5.
17) Connecticut Militia, 1793-1800 (2), Plate Nos. 626 and 627, continued, Military Collector & Historian, Journal of The Company of Military Historians, Vol. XL, No. 3, Fall, 1988, Washington, D.C., Pages 138-139. 
18) The Connecticut Grenadier Cap, Charles M. Lefferts, The New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin, Vol. IV, April, 1920, No. 1, Published by the Society and issued to members, New York, Page 23.
19) General Washington’s Army 1: 1775-1778; Men-at-Arms Series #273, Zlatich & Copeland, Osprey Military, London, 1994, Page 4. 
20) Ibid. Page 25, Plate A2.
21) The Connecticut Grenadier Cap, Charles M. Lefferts, The New York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin, Vol. IV, April, 1920, No. 1, Published by the Society and issued to members, New York, Page 21.
22) General Washington’s Army 1: 1775-1778; Men-at-Arms Series #273, Zlatich & Copeland, Osprey Military, London, 1994, Pages 7, 14, 26, 44, Plate B1. 
23) Captain of Grenadiers, 26th Continental Regiment, Massachusetts, 1776, New England Soldiers of the American Revolution; Glorious uniforms to color, Zlatich, Bellerophon Books, 1988.
24) Revolutionary Defences in Rhode Island, Edward Field, Preston and Rounds, Providence, R.I., 1896, Pages 14-16. 
25) Eighteenth Century Grenadier Caps, Anne S. K. Brown, Rhode Island History, Vol. 12, April 1953, No. 2, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence, Pages 44-49. 
26) Israel Putnam, Pioneer, Ranger, and Major General 1718-1790, William Farrand Livingston, G.P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1901, Pages 411-412. 












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