Battle Apron: Militia volunteer
Editor’s note: This is the fifth of eight columns provided to The Press in lead-up to the Battle of Ridgefield re-enactment Saturday, April 29.
After seeing the skies darkened by the thick black smoke from Danbury, 15-year-old Jonathan Nickerson joined General Wooster’s small band of 440 Patriots, and began his march home to Ridgefield. A craftsman by trade, he fit into the eclectic group comprised of a few of his neighbors and hundreds of men he’d never met from Upper Salem, New Haven, and Massachusetts. During a brief rest, the cartridges from Peekskill were portioned out. Only a few made their way into Jonathan’s hands. He was grateful to feel the weight of the waxed paper cartridges.
The scouts sent ahead by General Wooster returned with news that the British column had stopped to eat. Hastily dispensing the final cartridges, Wooster ordered his men to strike. Jonathan, with only a year in the military working with wood, pulled his kit together, and pushed on through the woods with his company. Just beyond the tree break he could see the rear guard of the British column organizing to continue their push south into his hometown, Ridgefield. His calloused hands tightened around the oiled wood stock of his musket as he charged through the thinning underbrush.
The skirmish was over before he knew it, and as far as he could tell, over before the British knew it as well. He saw a group of British soldiers being led back towards the woods as Wooster ordered the patchwork company back into the woods; he counted 13 but it felt more like 40 as he rested against the trunk of a tree to catch his breath. The new boys that had joined were smiles from ear to ear, as if they had just killed the King himself, and saved Ridgefield. Jonathan couldn’t help but think they would win the day, yet …