THE BRITISH RAID ON DANBURY, CONNECTICUT, APRIL 26, 1777
(Document recently uncovered in archives at Windsor Castle)
TO HIS ROYAL MAJESTY KING GEORGE
(From Brigadier General William Tryon, in the Field at Danbury, Connecticut, 26 April, 1977.
Your Majesty: It is with the greatest sense of pride and achievement that I am able to report Mission Accomplished on our raid on the Rebels depot at Danbury, Connecticut, where through intelligence sources we anticipated finding abundant destructive military weapony, as well as cached comestibles and field support supplies. Under direct orders from our Supreme Commander, General Howe at Command Headquarters, on 25 April, our coalition force of 2,000 troops, including an insignificant number of Hessian mercenaries, a small contingent of red-skinned Indians and 300 Loyals to the Crown, sailed from New York City into Long Island Sound.
After a somewhat difficult embarkation at a place known as Compo Hill, near the town of Westport, our troops under forced march (in bad rainy weather) reached the town of Redding, at 20 miles distance, then continued on to Danbury where we arrived the following evening at 5 pm., meeting only scattered disorganized resistance from die-hard Rebels along the way. A few snipers in civilian dress were easily dispatched without loss of any of our men. It has been brought to our attention that the locals welcome our arrival, although we have seen no British flags flying, the inhabitants possibly fearing later vengeful Rebel reprisals.
Quickly securing the high ground in Danbury, our troops then went about destroying the Supply Depot. Although no weapons were discovered, our troops set fire to 5,000 barrels of pork, beef and flour, 2,000 bushels of grain, 1,600 tents, and 5,000 pairs of shoes. When some objection by the locals was raised to our actions, it became necessary to burn their houses, 19 in all, which together with the destruction of their food supplies resulted in some rioting and looting of roasted pork.
TO HIS ROYAL MAJESTY KING GEORGE
(From Brigadier General William Tyron, in a swamp in Connecticut, 28 April, 1977)
Your Majesty: Having achieved our objective of destroying the Danbury, Connecticut Supply Depot, we became aware through intelligence sources that the Rebels were gathering in militias to force a confrontation. I immediately ordered a withdrawal to our ships at Westport via an alternate route, but apparently some of the locals became aware of our changed plans, and alerted their militias by midnight rides on horseback through the countryside. It is becoming increasingly apparent that we cannot count on the loyalty of the locals. Indeed, in this instance they went so far as to dispatch a 16-year-old girl to alert the enemy as to our whereabouts, an indication of their desperation.
As we made our way down a country road we were attacked from the rear by a contingent of some 400 troops under the Rebel command of Brigadier General David Wooster, who has long been on our list of hostile enemy combatant leaders. After experiencing some casualties, several as the result of overurned wagons, our forces were able to beat back Woosters militia, and the General himself was struck by our superior firepower, and we believe he will not survive the night. Nevertheless, it was incumbent upon us to hasten our withdrawal.
Unfortunately we were blocked by a force of 400 Rebel militia at the town of Ridgefield under the command of Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. At this point it became obvious to us that the Rebel forces are not as disorganized and demoralized as we had been led to believe by some of our informants. Despite three cannon and the force of our coalition troops, General Arnold seriously delayed our progress. He himself was twice unseated from his horse by cannon but nonetheless managed to escape unharmed. (There are rumors afoot that Arnold may be willing to defect, depending upon certain conditions he has stipulated privately. Meanwhile he continues to be a formidable foe).
At length, despite some defections on our side by the redskins and some grumbling from the Hessians, our forces managed to beat back Arnolds troops. As we continued towards Westport, we were continually harassed by locals whom we had assumed were on our side, or at least of a neutral bent. The locals were joined by apparently fanatical volunteers from neighboring states, who fired upon us in a most cowardly manner from behind trees and hedges and stone walls and even from the tall grasses of marshes which we passed.
Eventually reaching the city of Norwalk, adjacent to Westport, we were met by still another organizaed force of 500 militia, trained fighting men under the Rebel command of Brigadier General Gold Selleck Silliman (another on our list of enemy combatant leaders) who were joined by irregulars, mostly farmer volunteers who took aim at us for no other apparent reason thn to derive pleasure in the sight of bloodshed.
Fortunately our beleaguered troops were relieved by a superior force of British Marines from our fleet of ships. Our losses amounted to some 140 killed and wounded, a number greater than at any time since the beginning of hostilities. The enemy is believed to have lost 29 men.
Your Majesty: It now appeas that the untutored masses in Connecticut are desirous of our departure, unwilling to believe that our presence here is solely to bring civil order and the rule of law to their anarchic state. It is the opinion of your humble servant that the battle has now moved to a new stage where we must win the hearts and minds of those who may best be described as ravaging thugs. Exactly how we are to accomplish this task is beyond the imagination of this military command. One thing is certain. I can assure you that Your Majestys forces will never be defeated and forced to leave. The Rebels re a tatterdemalion rabble, occasionally reinforced by fanatics and foreign interventionists (the French), who supply the enemy with both equipment and financial aid. Glory to our venture, and Long Live the King! *
* Historical note: King George III, architect of the campaign against the Rebels, died a raving lunatic at Windsor Castle in 1920.