• [Battle of Ridgefield] Son Of American Revolution Orders 65-Mile Express Ride To Inform Of British Destruction Of Supply Lines

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    Superb Revolutionary War document acknowledging and seeking compensation for MAJOR WILLIAM SILLIMAN, who rode 65 miles by horseback, known as “Express,” for five days to provide important intelligence to GENERAL JEREMIAH WADSWORTH. Wadsworth provided supplies to the colonists. Silliman warned Wadsworth and other patriots of British movements.  The British were attempting to destroy American supply lines, actions that became collectively known as the Battle of Ridgefield.  The colonists were victorious in the battle.  This important ride was a precursor to the battle.

    Silliman was employed to ride express by BRIG. GEN. G. SELLECK SILLIMAN, who played an important role in the battle supplying hundreds of troops. He was later captured along with his son.  He was joined by Gen. Benedict Arnold, later a traitor to the colonies, and General David Wooster, who was killed in the battle.

    Single page, 7 ½ x 8 ¼, “The State of Connecticut To William Silliman

    “1779, Jan. 27th To 5 Days on Express to Maj. Gen. Wadsworth at Hartford on Publick Business...To Horse Hire 65 Miles...by the way of Durham...To Expenses during the 5 Days...24.16.2...

    “This certify that I employed William Silliman to go Express to General Wadsworth at Hartford on publick Business for the Benefit of this State. Dated in Fairfield this 4h Day of Febry 1779

    “G. Selleck Silliman, Brig. Gen

    “Fairfield, Febry 16th, 1779

    “We the subscribers having Examined the above out and are of opinion that the same...charge

    “The People to pay Maj. William Silliman the above Twenty Four pounds, Sixteen Shillings and charge the State therewith pr order of Sam Squire, Sam Whiting Justices of the Peace

    “To John Lawrence



    Fine docketing on verso.

    The document is cross signed by Samuel Wyllys, who was appointed lieutenant colonel in Col. Joseph Spencer’s 2nd Connecticut Regiment on July 1, 1775. He commanded the regiment until January 1, 1776, when the 2nd Connecticut was reorganized as the 22nd Continental Regiment. Wyllys remained in the regiment and served in the Siege of Boston until the British evacuation on March 17 and then marched with George Washington to New York. He saw action in the Battle of Long Island and served in the New York vicinity until the end of the year.

    Gold Selleck Silliman was born in Fairfield, CT, in 1732, graduated and practiced law and served as a crown attorney before the Revolution. He was the commander of a local body of militia cavalry and took rank as a militia brigadier general after 1776. He was mostly concerned with patrolling the southwestern border of Connecticut, where the loyalists of Westchester County, NY, spilled over and caused constant irritation and concern for patriot towns and farms.

    He also fought with the main army during the New York campaigns of 1776 and opposed the British raid on Danbury in 1777.  At the beginning of Tryon’s raid on Danbury, Silliman was at home in Fairfield. As soon as he heard word of the British landing on the coast, he sent out expresses to alarm the nearby towns and to collect the militia. By noon the next day, he arrived at Redding with five hundred men and joined by Generals Benedict Arnold and David Wooster in the Battle of Ridgefield.

    On a dark night in May 1779 – three months after his son’s Express ride – nine Tories crossed the sound in a whale boat from Lloyd’s Neck. One of them had been employed by Silliman as a carpenter so he knew the house. Eight of the men forced their way into the house at midnight and took the general and his son to Oyster Bay and finally to Flatbush to be exchanged.

    The Americans didn’t have a prisoner of equal rank to exchange so they captured one. The victim was the Honorable Thomas Jones, a highly reputed loyalist. Silliman, his son and Jones were later exchanged.

    Wadsworth was an American sea captain, merchant and statesman from Hartford. He profited from his position as a government official charged with supplying the Continental Army. He represented Connecticut in the Continental Congress and the United States House of Representatives.  Wadsworth became Commissary General of Purchases in June 1777 and resigned in August.

    A superb Revolutionary War document bridging together the significance of communicating important intelligence through the use of Express riders.

    Toning and folds. Small hole at the top center.

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