Categories: Guilford, Revolutionary War, War and Defense

Stealth Attack from Guilford Launched – Today in History: May 23

Detail of Guilford and Long Island
Detail of Guilford and Long Island from the map Plan of the Colony of Connecticut in North-America by Moses Park, 1766 – Connecticut Historical Society
Return Jonathan Meigs, Sr.

Return Jonathan Meigs, Sr.

On May 23, 1777, Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs launched a lightning raid from Sachem Head in Guilford on Sag Harbor on the western end of Long Island, about 20 miles as the crow flies from Guilford. The stealth attack was in retaliation for the April 1777 raid on Danbury where General William Tryon led a large force of British troops on a two-day invasion that destroyed the Continental Army’s supplies and left more than a dozen American defenders dead.

The patriot force consisted of a flotilla of 13 whaleboats carrying 170 men, some from Guilford, accompanied by three sloops. Little more than a day after departing, they were back, having destroyed a dozen enemy vessels and large stores of hay, grain, and rum. They brought with them 96 prisoners of war. Not a single patriot had been lost.

But Guilford would have its turn to feel the enemy’s wrath. On June 18, 1781, three British vessels unloaded 150 men, many of them Loyalists, at Leete’s Island. Their presence wasn’t detected until they were close enough to torch two houses. The militia arrived and drove the invaders back to their boats. Two Guilford defenders, both in their 20s, were killed.

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