NORWALK, Conn. -- It's been 235 years since the Battle and Burning of Norwalk, and the Norwalk Historical Society commemorated the event Saturday with a day of Revolutionary War re-enactment, tours of the Mill Hill Historic Park and informational lectures.
The Battle of Norwalk took place July 11, 1779, between British forces led by Maj. Gen. William Tryon and American forces led by Gen. Samuel Parsons. After raids on New Haven and Fairfield, about 2,600 British troops landed at Calf Pasture Beach and Fitch's Point.
They engaged in skirmishes with 900 to 1,100 Americans, with the heaviest fighting at Flax Hill, Golden Hill and the Rocks. The British traveled along what is now East and West Avenue, burning everything in their path.
The battle was the largest ever fought on Connecticut soil, according to Historical Society Board members Ed and Madeleine Eckert, who have researched the Battle of Norwalk for more than 10 years. The two gave lectures Saturday in which they detailed the events leading up to the battle, the movement of the troops and the effect the battle had on the town.
Norwalk was nearly destroyed when the British burned 130 houses, 40 shops and stores, 87 barns, five ships, two churches, two mills and many fields of crops.
"We're constantly finding out new things about the battle," said Madeleine. They have also studied events such as Norwalk in the Civil War and the city's role in Nathan Hale's spy ring. "So many wonderful people and events have taken place here. We want to help Norwalkers learn all about the fascinating history of this area."
The Mill Hill House itself is near where the British troops converged on the town green and headed north. Sheldon's Horse, Second Continental Light Dragoons recreated a Revolutionary War encampment with examples of weapons and medical equipment, and led a cavalry demonstration with live horses.
"Everything we do here at the Society is a way to engage people in the rich history that exists here," said Erik Anderson, president of the Historical Society's Board of Directors. "We want to let people know that there's more to Norwalk's history than they may have known."