Israel Putnam Memorial State
Park is located at the Intersection of Rte 58 and Rte 107
in Redding, Connecticut.
Self-Guided Walking Tour
1. VISITOR CENTER - this
building was originally built in 1893 as the park pavilion.
It was used as a shelter during inclement weather, for dances
and picnics, and for town events. The upstairs was used as
the original park museum. The building was dismantled board
by board in 2005, and reconstructed into a 4-season climate
controlled visitor center where visitors can get a park orientation
prior to entering the historic encampment.
2. " CAMP GUARDHOUSE"- A
log hut which was reconstructed about 1890 on the remains
of a hut from 1778. The actual purpose of the original structure
is in question, although local lore said it was the Guard
House. The construction and size of the hut gives the visitor
an approximation of one of the 116 enlisted men's soldiers
huts. Each hut contained 12 soldiers.
3. "PUTNAM'S ESCAPE AT HORSENECK
"- BRONZE STATUE - is on the front lawn of the Visitor
Center. It was sculpted by renowned local artist Anna Hyatt
Huntington at her estate just a few miles from the park. Ms.
Huntington was 94 when she completed the statue for its 1969
dedication at the park. The bronze depicts General Israel
Putnam's legendary ride down the stone steps in Greenwich,
then called" Horseneck", where he narrowly escaped from the
4. MAIN ENTRANCE AREA -
Civil War cannons and miniature blockhouses flank the road.
Blockhouses were used in frontier areas during the French
and Indian War where Israel Putnam achieved fame for his courageous
exploits. There are several other Civil War cannon inside
the park. These weapons were surplus arms from the Civil War
which ended only a few years prior to the park's commissioning.
The gateway view focuses on the Monument.
5. MEMORIAL MONUMENT - Constructed
in 1888, one year after the commissioning of the memorial
park, this monument honors the men of the three different
camps in Redding during that winter of 1778-79. The monument
was the very first structure erected at the park. The visitor
can read the names of the different brigade generals who commanded
the camps under Major General Israel Putnam's command.
6. COLLAPSED CHIMNEY REMAINS
(FIREBACKS) AND COMPANY STREET - The enlisted men's encampment
consisted of 116 log huts set in a double row for almost a
quarter mile down the company street. The only above ground
remains of those huts today are the piles of collapsed stone
chimneys. Each stone pile, or fireback, marks the location
of a 1778 hut. The men camped in this location belonged to
Brig. Gen. Enoch Poor's New Hampshire Brigade and the 2nd
Canadian Regiment under Col. Moses Hazen. The fireplaces and
chimneys were made of local fieldstone. The huts had dimensions
of 16 x 12 feet . Each hut held the 12 soldiers who built
their own hut. The troops lived in tents until their huts
were completed in late December. Ongoing archaeological field
work has told us much about the huts and their occupants.
7. MUSEUM - This building
contains exhibits and historical materials including artifacts
unearthed at the campsite during archaeological excavations.
The museum was built in 1921 by long time Redding Town Historian
Margaret Wixted's father. This building replaced the original
museum housed on the second floor of the old 1893 Pavilion.
Park Guides are present to tell visitors about the park and
answer questions. Hours are posted at the park gates or at
the Visitor Center.
8. OFFICERS QUARTERS -
The chimney remains mark the site of a company officer's hut.
The hut was an 1890 replica built on the original site. The
hut was destroyed by fire years ago. The company-level officer's
huts were located behind the enlisted hut line. There are
several other firebacks of these junior officer hut remains
in the woods behind the enlisted hut line.
9. PHILIPS CAVE - Local
legend says a shallow cave in this rock outcrop was used by
one Mr. Philips. Philips was a soldier who returned after
the war to live in this cave. He led the life of a hermit,
including liberating an occasional chicken or produce from
local farmers. He was evicted by the community. Another version
said he was "permanently removed".
10. OFFICERS QUARTERS/MAGAZINE
- this structure was reconstructed on the original foundations
that are cut into the hillside. Long thought to be an officer's
barracks, recent information is now leading archaeologists
to believe it was actually the camp magazine which held the
kegs of gunpowder. The location far away from troop quarters
and being semi-enclosed in the earthen bank support this theory.
More research will be done on this site.
11. BARLOW CIRCLE - A resident
of Redding, Joel Barlow graduated from Yale in 1778. An accomplished
poet and writer, Barlow was thought to have visited the Redding
army camps during the winter 78/79 encampments. He was a chaplain
for three years in the Continental Army. He was one of the
writers group called the Connecticut (or Hartford) Wits. He
was sent to Algiers to secure U.S. prisoners and negotiate
treaties with Tripoli. He became a French citizen and was
involved in Napoleon's retreat from Russia. He died in Poland
12. BAKE OVEN AND STRUCTURES
ON THE CAMP'S UPPER LEVEL - The identity and location
of buildings on the upper level is not certain at this time.
We know that the Bake Oven was located in this ravine. It
needed the water in the stream flowing next to it. Other buildings
were known to exist on this upper level: The Soap Boiler,
the Commissary, the Quartermaster, Carpenters, Tailors, Quarter
Guards, and Sutlers, in addition to the Field, Staff and Commissioned
13. CEMETERY/COMMAND OFFICER'S
QUARTERS - Another bit of hand-me-down lore at the time
the park was created in the 1880's was that the two mounds
of stones, inside the square formed by the granite posts,
were thought to be the camp cemetery. Accordingly, a memorial
monument was erected to mark the site in 1890? Archaeology
work from the 2002-04 seasons has proven the site actually
to be a double-ended (two chimneys) Field Officers quarters.
Further research has pointed to the distinct probability that
the hut belonged to Lt. Col. Henry Dearborn who was the ranking
officer living at the camp (Some senior officers were quartered
at area homes).
14. LAKE McDOUGALL - The
stone damn which creates this pond was installed at the time
of the park's creation. But the stream was very much in in
existence during the 1778-79 army encampment. It is one of
two main streams, one at each end of the camp, which provided
water for the troops. Gen. Alexander McDougall's name is listed
on the memorial monument as one of the commanders at the Reading
camps. Actually, McDougall had been the commander of Putnam's
Division prior to going into winter quarters. Gen. Washington
placed the division under Israel Putnam and kept Gen. McDougall
in command of the Hudson Highlands which included the all
important fortress West Point.