Battle Apron: The battle in town rages
Editor’s note: This is the seventh of eight columns provided to The Press in lead-up to the Battle of Ridgefield re-enactment Saturday, April 29.
The thunderous explosion tore through the apple orchard’s cart that had been wedged amongst the other equipment and effects of the Ridgefield farmers. Jonathan Nickerson had grown up pretending that apple cart was one of her Majesty’s naval destroyers and he the captain. More recently he had just replaced a broken wheel! Now the royal marines were bearing down on him through its shattered remains, two abreast, their muskets held at the ready.
The men around him scattered, instinct took hold as his feet carried him away from the broken barricade. He fled south, ducking behind buildings to avoid the errant hail of musket fire. Taking a moment to rest between two homes he looked down at his musket, the flint was still cocked back — ready to fire. He eased his musket across the porch of one of the houses and continued to fight for his country, retreating every so often to keep a distance between the ride tide and himself.
Cannon fire echoed through the town as the British soldiers attempted to stamp out the Patriots’ will to fight, though even from within windows and behind trees the fight continued to begrudgingly move south. He paused behind the tavern, owned by one of the more prominent families that had joined the fight against the Crown, the Keelers. Clutching at his empty cartridge pouch he dove into the root cellar to wait out the battle.
“Wait! Wait! Please! You can’t!” pleaded Benjamin Hoyt, Timothy Keeler’s uncle, “I am loyal! Please, good sir! The winds will carry the flames to my house! … God Save the King!” Jonathan peeked through a crack in the cellar wall to see Red Coats with torches turn away from Keeler’s tavern and march south to burn the homes of his fellow patriots.