From Ohio History Central
Major General Israel Putnam
Israel Putnam was a political and military leader during and after the American Revolution.
He was born on January 7, 1718, in what is now Danvers, Massachusetts. In 1740, he moved to Pomfret, Connecticut, hoping to acquire land. Over the next thirty years, he became a successful farmer and also opened a tavern. He participated in the French and Indian War and was recognized for his bravery. In 1756, he became a captain in the Connecticut militia and, in 1758, was promoted to major. During the war, Native Americans captured him. The natives wanted to burn Putnam at the stake, but the last minute intervention of a French officer saved Putnam's life.
Putnam played an important role in the disagreements between the British government and its colonies in the New World. These conflicts eventually led to the American Revolution. Known for his opposition to British taxes, Putnam won election to the Connecticut General Assembly in 1766. Around this same time, he also helped establish Connecticut's Sons of Liberty. This organization actively campaigned against the lack of colonial representation in the British government.
With the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, Putnam joined the Continental Army. Due to his previous military experience, Putnam was made a colonel in the army. He eventually resigned from this position to become the head of the Connecticut militia with the rank of brigadier-general. He played a major role at the Battle of Bunker (Breed's) Hill and was in charge of the troops guarding New York City before being replaced by George Washington. Putnam spent the remainder of his service in the military in minor positions. In 1779, he suffered a stroke, which left him partially paralyzed and forced him to retire from military duty. Putnam died on May 29, 1790, in Brooklyn, Connecticut.
Putnam did not have a direct connection to Ohio. His exploits, however, were well known by the settlers of the Connecticut Western Reserve in northern Ohio. Putnam County was named after this Revolutionary War hero. Israel Putnam was a cousin of Rufus Putnam, a pioneer settler in what would become the State of Ohio. Rufus Putnam helped established Marietta, the first permanent settlement by the newly established United States in the Northwest Territory.
- Child, David Lee. An Enquiry into the Conduct of General Putnam, in Relation to the Battle of Bunker, or Breed's Hill and remarks upon Mr. S. Swett's Sketch of that Battle. Boston, MA: Thomas G. Bangs, 1819.
- Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes. Vol. II. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., Printers and Binders, 1902.
- Humphreys, David. An Essay on the Life of the Honourable Major General Israel Putnam. Addressed to the State Society of the Cincinnati in Connecticut, and First Published by Their Order. By Col. David Humphreys. With notes and additions. With an Appendix, Containing an Historical and Topographical Sketch of Bunker Hill Battle. Boston, MA: Samuel Avery, 1818.
- Humphreys, David. Memoirs of the Life, Adventures, and Military Exploits of Israel Putnam, Senior Major-general in the Revolutionary Army of the United States, and Next in Rank to General Washington. New York, NY: Evert Duyckinck, 1815.
- Putnam, Daniel, ed. An Account of the Battle of Bunker Hill by H. Dearborn. With A Letter to Maj. Gen. Dearborn Repelling his Unprovoked Attack on the Character of the Late Maj. Gen. Israel Putnam. Boston, MA: Munroe & Francis, 1818.