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Battle of Norwalk
Part of the American Revolutionary War
Battle of West Rocks monument.jpg
Monument commemorating the Battle of West Rocks in Norwalk, Connecticut
DateJuly 12, 1779
LocationNorwalk, Connecticut
Result Destruction of all properties in Norwalk except six houses
Belligerents
 United States  Kingdom of Great Britain
Commanders and leaders
General Samuel Parsons,[1] Captain Stephen Betts, Captain Jeremiah Eells, Captain Phineas Sherman and Major David Porter William Tryon, Thomas Garth
Strength
800 2,500
Casualties and losses
20 killed, 96 wounded, 23 missing[1]


The Battle of Norwalk (also Battle of West Rocks or Battle of the Rocks) was a series of skirmishes between American and British forces during the American Revolutionary War. The attack was one part of a series of raids on coastal Connecticut towns collectively known as Tryon's raid. The main battle was fought in Norwalk, Connecticut on July 12, 1779. British forces under General William Tryon arrived on July 10, 1779. They marched in a two pronged attack on either side of the Norwalk River. They followed a path along what is today East and West Avenues burning everything along the way. Only six houses within the business district at Head of River were spared.[2][3]

On July 9 General Samuel H. Parsons was in Redding where he had been sent by General Washington to asses the situation and take charge of the militia in case of further raids, as Washington and General Oliver Wolcott felt that Norwalk would be the next target of the British. Parsons also urgently appealed to General John Glover of the Continental Army to bring his brigade to Norwalk from where he was camped in New London.

On Saturday July 10 at 2:00pm the British fleet, including the flagship "Camilla" and the "Hussar", left Huntington Bay and crossed the Sound to Norwalk. Around 5 that afternoon the fleet anchored outside the Norwalk Islands and troops began rowing ashore. At about the same time, the "Hussar" entered the Norwalk River to cover the landing of troops and destroy whatever shipping was to be found.

Most of Tryon's forces reached the beach at Calf Pasture Beach after the sun had set. These included the Fifty-fourth, the Landgraf Regiment, and the Jaegers, made up of Hessian mercenary volunteers. Fanning's Regiment of Loyalists landed at 3:00am. The soldiers rested on their arms and just before dawn began their march to the center of town. They met virtually no resistance from the local militia in this area until they reached Grumman Hill, where fifty Continental troops and a few militiamen, all under the command of Captain Stephen Betts, attempted to halt Tryon's advance. After a brief skirmish the British took the hill and sent the Americans fleeing. General Thomas Garth, who landed his troops, two flanks of Guards and two fusileer regiments, in Old Well around 7 AM, meantime began to march ashore to join with Tryon's forces. At Flax Hill they met with strong resistance from Nathaniel Raymond and fourteen other irregulars from the town of Old Well (South Norwalk). General Garth lost a light cannon to the "rebels" before marching along the river by West Avenue, being constantly harassed by Norwalk militia, irregulars, and citizens above them on the bluffs, The British crossed the Norwalk River at the location of today's Wall Street while the Americans crossed about a quarter mile upstream at Cross Street, making their way over Sticky Plain to "the Rocks" where the rest of the militia and Betts' Continentals were strongholded.

The American forces included troops commanded by Capt. Betts, Captain Jeremiah Eells, Captain Phineas Sherman and Major David Porter.

The two British columns converged at the Mill Hill area by the town green (41°07′03″N 73°24′34″W / 41.1174°N 73.4095°W / 41.1174; -73.4095Coordinates: 41°07′03″N 73°24′34″W / 41.1174°N 73.4095°W / 41.1174; -73.4095) and proceeded north to the area then known as "the Rocks" where they met heavy resistance from the Norwalk militia and Continental troops.[4]

General Tryon began the burning in East Norwalk when he fired a few houses which rebel snipers were using for shields. General Garth burned along West Avenue for the same reason. A total of eighty houses, two churches, eighty-seven barns, seventeen shops, and four mills were burned by the enemy. Losses were later estimated to amount to over 26 thousand British pounds.

General Tryon had commanded a series of raids on the Connecticut coast in the preceding days, attacking New Haven and Fairfield. Most of Fairfield and Norwalk were destroyed. Tryon's raids were intended to draw American forces away from the defence of the Hudson Valley. In spite of pressure from Governor Trumbull, George Washington did not move his troops.

Out of all towns the British attacked, Norwalk was the most heavily damaged in the state, historians believe. General George Washington described Norwalk as having been “destroyed” in his report to the Continental Congress after the battle.[4]

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