Battle Apron: Remember Bradley Dean this April 27
Editor’s note: This is the first of eight columns provided to The Press in lead-up to The Battle of Ridgefield re-enactment Saturday, April 29.
On this coming April 27, Ridgefielder Bradley Dean will have been dead for 240 years. So will at least 13 other patriots who perished that day in 1777 defending our town against an invading British army almost 2,000 strong.
Dean, a young private in Connecticut’s Fifth Regiment of Continental infantry, reposes anonymously under a granite marker on the northern edge of Ridgefield’s venerable Main Street. Seven other lie alongside him — all hastily interred, together with 16 fallen Redcoats, by victorious British soldiers after the village was taken. A century later, wealthy Ridgefield society matron Mary Olcott graced the communal grave with the monument that stands today.
A mile and a half up North Salem Road stands another granite marker. For it was here that Continental Brigadier General David Wooster fell mortally wounded while engaging the British column en route to Ridgefield after burning the patriot storage depot in Danbury.
The “Battle” of Ridgefield itself was “a smart action which lasted about an hour,” according to American commanding officer General Benedict Arnold. Led by Royal Governor of New York William Tryon and Brigadier General Sir William “Woolly” Erskine, the king’s army of some 1,960 troops made relatively quick work of the 600 or so militia and Continentals under Arnold’s command. Even so, formal British returns for the four-day Danbury raid (including the Ridgefield action) reported 26 killed, 114 wounded, and 29 missing. Safely back aboard British ships in Long Island Sound, Tryon and Erskine surely realized their escape was a near thing, for Continental and militia troops by the thousands were closing in at his rear. And never again would His Majesty’s regiments set foot so deeply into Connecticut’s patriot countryside.
So take a moment between soccer games, shopping errands, and yard work this coming April 27 to remember Bradley Dean and his seven compatriots who sleep for eternity along Main Street. One of them, had you lived here 240 years ago, might have been your own son.
More information may be found by calling 203-403-7065, emailing info@BattleOfRidgefield.org or stopping by Jerusalem 49 Masonic Lodge next to Town Hall.