Stamford in the Revolutionary War
The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) - Recruitment
The 5th Connecticut Provincial Regiment (1775) was commanded by Colonel David Waterbury. April 19, 1775, and will long be remembered as the date that began the American War for Independence. On that date the British Army carried out a raid on Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. With the news of the attack and the resulting battle, the Connecticut Assembly acted swiftly by authorizing the establishment of its part of a New England Army which had long been called for by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress.
Formed on May 1, 1775, the 5th Connecticut Regiment, commanded by Colonel David Waterbury, was one of the original six regiments of Connecticut's Colonies adopted this Army into the Continental Army. Waterbury's Regiment was assigned to the Separate, or New York, Department in 1775 and did not receive an additional designation in August. The Regiment then served at Fort Ticonderoga; participated in the successful siege of Fort Saint Johns, Canada; and helped capture Montreal in November. It was mustered out of service in December 1775.
The Revolutionary War (1775-1783) - Stamford's Three-Gun Armada
During the Revolutionary War, American privateers utilized armed whaling boats to keep the British from the colonies’ shores and prevent illicit trade in British goods. In 1778, 1779, and 1780, the Connecticut General Assembly passed numerous acts forbidding trade with the British, but these acts proved difficult to enforce. The limited resources of the Continental navy opened the door for seagoing privateers along the Connecticut coast to enforce trade restrictions, seize supplies intended for the British war effort, and offer protection from enemy attack.
In Stamford, privateer whaling boats fell under the command of Ebenezer Jones. Jones received a commission for three boats which he owned and commanded. These boats were the Rattlesnake, Viper, and Saratoga. Each carried one gun and approximately 10 crewmen, and Jones employed them in the defense of Stamford harbor. Jones’s small fleet met with great success during their deployments, capturing or securing the cargo of such British sloops as the Tryon, Dorset, and Polly. (Sloops are smaller, single-masted vessels.) In addition, he took the schooner Anson and other British schooners loaded with wood, hay, and other valuable supplies. (Schooners usually have fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts.)
Jones’s most famous exploit involved the capture of an unnamed British warship. Sneaking up on the vessel in a dense fog, Jones pretended to be an irate British inspector. From his whaleboat, Jones harangued the British captain for letting Jones’s boat approach unchallenged. Maintaining a disciplinary and belligerent tone, Jones managed to bluff his way onto the British ship. Once aboard, Jones signaled his other whaling boats to emerge from the fog, surround the ship, and bring it back to Stamford.
While many boat operators had their commissions revoked in 1781 for secretly engaging in trade with the British vessels they encountered, it does not appear that Jones engaged in this behavior. If he did, he was never caught, as his sanctioned privateering lasted through the end of the war. From the commissioning of his small fleet in 1780 until its decommission in 1783, Jones captured or seized the property of at least 35 British vessels.