Disposition of the Continental Army for the Winter
Toward the last of November , Washington completed arrangements
for the disposition of the Continental Army for the winter. Most of the
brigades were to be in the Highlands. Three brigades, composed of the
New Hampshire and Connecticut troops and Hazen's regiment were to be
posted in the vicinity of Danbury, Connecticut, "for protection of the
country lying along the Sound, to cover our magazines lying on the
Connecticut River, and to aid the Highlands on any serious movement
of the enemy that way." Putnam was to command at Danbury, McDougall
in the Highlands, and Washington's own headquarters were to be at
Middlebrook in New Jersey.
General Putnam's Headquarters
A three-day's journey brought Putnam, about December 1st, to the
winter camps in the sheltered valley, formed by the Saugatuck and
its tributaries, which lie along the border line of what was then
Danbury (now Bethel) and Redding. He established his headquarters
in a farmhouse on Umpawaug Hill. Besides his sons Israel and Daniel,
the General had in his "military family" the new aide-de-camp,
appointed December 18, 1778. This was David Humphreys, who had been
Brigade-Major in Parson's Brigade and who, after serving on Putnam's
staff, became aide-de-camp successively to Greene and Washington, a military career which, when the war ended, this young officer (born 1753, in Derby, Connecticut) recited in verse, thus:
"With what high Chiefs I play'd my early part,
With Parsons first, whose eye, with piercing ken,
Reads through the hearts the characters of men;
Then how I aided, in the foll'wing scene,
Death-daring Putnam - then immortal Greene -
Then how great Washington my youth approv'd,
In rank preferred, and as a parent lov'd."
Another writer of patriotic and martial lines was a visitor at Putnam's headquarters - Joel Barlow, a native of Redding and graduate of Yale College, who, in his Columbiad, mentions among American heroes,
"Putnam, scored with ancient scars,The living records of his country's wars."
The comparative leisure of camp life at Redding gave some of the soldiers abundant opportunities to brood over their privations, and
they succeeded in spreading discontent until a large number were ready to revolt, claiming that they had been suffering from want of clothes
and blankets, that their pay was nothing, and that all engagements with them should be made good.
On December 30th, the men of Huntington's brigade assembled under arms, determined to march to Hartford and demand of the Legislature redress of grievances.
Putnam's tactful course in dealing with the mutinous men - how he addressed them kindly and firmly and caused them to disperse
quietly to their tents - is related by Humphreys, who was on the scene:
Putnam Addresses the Troops
"Word having been brought to General Putnam that the second brigade was under arms, he mounted his horse, galloped to the cantonment,
Do you intend to desert your officers, and to invite the enemy to follow you into the country? Whose cause have you been fighting and
"After the several regiments had received the General as he rode along the line, with drums beating and presented arms, the sergeants,
The above article is taken from the book Israel Putnam,