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Israel Putnam (1718-1790)


Israel Putnam was born in Salem Village (now Danvers), Mass. to a prosperous farming family. In 1740, Putnam left Massachusetts for northeast Connecticut where land was cheaper and easier to obtain. He served with the Connecticut militia during the French and Indian Wars beginning in 1755 and rose to the rank of major by 1758. Putnam led a regiment in the attack on Fort Ticonderoga in 1759 and was part of the expedition that captured Havana, Cuba in 1762. Around the time of the Stamp Act crisis in 1766, Putnam was elected to the Connecticut General Assembly and was one of the founders of the Connecticut Sons of Liberty. Shortly after the Battle of Lexington, Putnam led the Connecticut militia to Boston and was named major general in the Continental Army. Putnam was one of the primary figures at the Battle of Bunker Hill, both in its planning and on the battlefield. After the British left Boston, Putnam went to New York and assumed command there until George Washington arrived. Putnam was involved in the planning of the Battle of Long Island in 1776, which resulted in a sound American defeat. Putnam was often at odds with George Washington and served only until December 1779 before he suffered a stroke, which forced him to end his military career.

Sources: Garraty, John A. and Carnes, Mark C., eds. American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Stephen, Leslie and Lee, Sidney, eds. The Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1921-1922.

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