Researchers have new details about Battle of Ridgefield skeletons

RIDGEFIELD — Experts expect to soon have an update on the set of skeletons unearthed near the site of the Battle of Ridgefield.

The bones, which have been the talk of the town in recent years, were found by construction workers who were renovating the basement of an early 18th-century home in Ridgefield in late 2019. They are believed to belong to Revolutionary War soldiers who fought in the engagement.

A formal update on a set of skeletons will kick off the town’s 245th commemoration of the event next month.

“There never has been a discovery of skeletal remains anywhere in any battle fought in Connecticut to my knowledge,” First Selectman Rudy Marconi said. “It’s a historic event in and of itself.”

The medical examiner’s office turned the remains over to the Connecticut Office of State Archaeology, which brought university laboratories on board to assist with research. But the study of the skeletons, and determining who they were, has remained largely on pause due to the pandemic — until now.

On Friday, April 29, a panel of experts will unveil the most recent findings from the battle based on the discovery of the remains. The presentation will highlight how the historic find has altered and impacted what is already known about the only inland battle fought in Connecticut during the Revolutionary War.

The discussion will be moderated by state historian Walter Woodward. It includes state archeologists Sarah Sportman and Nick Bellantoni, David Naumec and Kevin McBride, of Heritage Consultants, and author Keith Marshall Jones III, the first president of the Ridgefield Historical Society.

The panelists will offer different perspectives of the engagement, from the past, present and future, respectively.

Jones is the author of “Farmers Against the Crown.” The book is a comprehensive account of General Benedict Arnold and the Battle of Ridgefield, and details “what we knew” prior to the presence of the skeletons, RHS President Tracy Seem said.

The discovery enabled the organization to apply for an American Battlefield Protection Program grant, administered by the National Park Service. RHS has been working with Heritage Consultants to assemble a database and reconstruct the engagement as it occurred.

Sportman and Bellantoni, “the two foremost researchers” on the operation, will provide an update on the skeletons the night of the panel, Seem said.

Town leaders hoped that state officials would have completed their research and released the remains in time for the burial planned for this year’s commemoration, but that event will remain strictly symbolic.

“While the research continues on the remains, we want to honor these young men,” Seem said.

On Sunday, May 1, the 5th Connecticut Regiment will conduct a funeral procession “rooted in the traditions of the time,” Seem said. Period caskets will be transported via horse-and-buggy from Ballard Park to Old Town Cemetery, where a minister will say a few words. The ceremony will also feature a musket salute.

“The true burial will occur when the research is completed with state dignitaries and military honors,” she added. “Because the research is delayed … the next update on the skeletal remains will be (during) the Battle of Ridgefield weekend.”

Those interested in attending the panel can register at A $10 donation is suggested to support ongoing research.