Israel Putnam

1718–1790

Israel Putnam
ISRAEL PUTNAM
Israel Putnam was born in Salem Village, Massachusetts, but at the age of 22 he moved to Pomfret, Connecticut, where land was cheaper and more attainable. From 1755 to 1765, Putnam joined with Rogers' Rangers and served in several campaigns on the side of the British during the French and Indian War. By 1756, he had become a captain, and two years later he was promoted to major. During one campaign, he was captured by Caughnawaga Indians, and he barely escaped being roasted alive due to a last-minute intervention by a French officer. In 1759, Putnam led attacks on Fort Ticonderoga and at Montreal, and in 1762, he assisted in the capture of Havana after surviving a shipwreck off the coast of Cuba. Shortly thereafter, back in America, Putnam was sent to defend Fort Detroit against Pontiacís Rebellion. Around this time, Israel began to speak out against British taxation policies, and by the time of the Stamp Act crisis in 1766, he had been elected to the Connecticut General Assembly and helped found the Connecticut Sons of Liberty. Around that same time, Putnam also joined the Congregational Church in Brooklyn, Connecticut.

By the start of the American Revolution, Putnam had established a career as a farmer and innkeeper, but when he received news concerning the recently begun Battle of Lexington, he immediately set out to join the cause, reaching Cambridge the next day and offering his services. He was appointed colonel of the 3rd Connecticut Regiment, and after leading the militia to Boston, he was named major general and served as one of the primary figures in the Battle of Bunker Hill. During the battle, Putnam may have spoke the memorable Revolutionary quote ďDonít fire until you see the whites of their eyes.Ē After Bunker Hill, Israel took temporary command of the American Army in New York while awaiting the arrival of Lieutenant George Washington in 1776. Unfortunately, Putnamís luck changed shortly thereafter, and he was forced into a quick retreat during the Battle of Long Island. Washington did not blame the general for his retreat, but he did reassign him to a recruiting role. Later, Putnam received another military command, this time in the Hudson Highlands, but after abandoning two forts under his charge to the British, he was brought before a court of inquiry for his actions. He was cleared of any wrongdoing, and during the next winter, Putnam and his men were camped at Redding, Connecticut when the general suffered a paralyzing stroke that ended his military career. Putnam passed away in 1790, and he was buried in Brooklynís South Cemetery.


Key events during the life of Israel Putnam:


Year
Event
1718
Born.
1755-65
Served with Roger's Rangers during the French and Indian War.
1758
Promoted to major.
  Captured by Caughnawaga Indians and almost roasted alive.
1763
Sent to relieve Fort Detroit from Pontiac's siege.
1766
Elected to the Connecticut General Assembly.
  Helped found the Sons of Liberty.
  Converted and joined the Congregational Church.
1775
Served at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
1776
Defeated during the Battle of Long Island.
1777
Allowed the British to capture two military forts.
  Brought before a court inquiry following the incident but was cleared of any wrongdoing.
1779
Suffered from a paralyzing stroke.
1790
Died.

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Another Wolf Story  in  Fifty Famous People  by  James Baldwin
Roger's Rangers  in  Indian History for Young Folks  by  Francis S. Drake
Putnam and the Wolf  in  Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans  by  Edward Eggleston
Israel Putnam  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans
Indians and Major Putnam  in  America First—100 Stories from Our History  by  Lawton B. Evans
The Battle of Lexington  in  Story of the Thirteen Colonies  by  H. A. Guerber
Putnam's Adventures  in  Story of the Thirteen Colonies  by  H. A. Guerber
Some Adventures of Major Putnam  in  Historical Tales, Vol I: American  by  Charles Morris
British at New York  in  Historical Tales, Vol I: American  by  Charles Morris
Israel Putnam  in  American History Stories, Volume II  by  Mara L. Pratt


Image Links


The French commander saving Putnam
 in Indian History for Young Folks

Major Israel Putnam in British uniform
 in Indian History for Young Folks

Putnam saving Fort Edward
 in Indian History for Young Folks
Istrael Putnam
Istrael Putnam
 in Back Matter


Contemporary
Short Biography
Pontiac Leader of a Great Lakes tribe who planned a rebellion. His attempt to take fort Detroit was thwarted by an Indian who warned the garrison.
Robert Rogers Leader of a band of mountain men who did great service for Britain during the French and Indian War.
George Washington Leader of the Continental Army of the U.S. during the Revolutionary War, and first President.