Great Nonfiction: Putnam’s Revolutionary War Winter Encampment, by Daniel Cruson

Putnam's Revolutionary War Winter Encampment: The History and Archeology of Putnam Memorial State Park

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In 1887, a twelve-acre parcel of land once occupied by Revolutionary War soldiers was donated to Connecticut, which founded its first state park upon it. Planned as a memorial and not simply as a pleasure ground, it commemorates the sacrifices made by Israel Putnam’s command during their winter encampment. But relatively little research had been done and reported on the site until now: teacher/historian Daniel Cruson has published a book reviewing archaeological and documentary evidence, and reinterpreting both the site itself and the lives of the soldiers who built and inhabited this temporary village. From a myriad of details, Mr. Cruson has gleaned valuable information about food, daily life, special assignments, arms and uniforms, and discipline. What happened to soldiers who were found to waste ammunition, even if it was to supplement the inadequate army diet? Is the legend about the soldier who died from a hit on the head with a snowball true? How many men were executed for desertion, and where did that take place? What happened to the camp when winter ended and the army moved on? The author answers these and many other intriguing questions, and suggests avenues for further research. A valuable addition to Revolutionary War history and literature.

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