Did you know that genteel Greenwich and Stamford were once a major battleground?
During the Revolutionary War, the two towns were wedged between:
- Rebel, or Yankee, New England
- The British-held New York colony
So, like much of the Eastern seaboard, loyalties divided the towns, and led to plenty of heartache.
One surviving vestige of that time is Fort Stamford.
Fort Stamford was built in the 1700s as a defense fortification during the American Revolutionary War. And now, centuries later, it is one of the few remaining examples in the state.
History of Fort Stamford & Goodbody Garden
During the American Revolutionary War, a number of fortifications were built along the Connecticut coast to watch for:
- British ships through British Navy-controlled Long Island Sound
- Loyalist raids
Fort Stamford in the Revolutionary War
From Fort Stamford, it was easy to oversee both the Mianus River and Long Island Sound before the forest later returned.
So this spot was ideal for keeping watch on the area. And Continental troops used it as such from the start of the War.
In early 1779, the British Army marched through Greenwich. The troops set fire to several structures and stole livestock and other supplies. Luckily, General Putnam was able to escape what is now Putnam Cottage and ride to Fort Stamford to warn the troops there. Troops from Fort Stamford successfully defended Stamford, CT, in a battle near Palmer’s Hill and the Mianus River.
Thanks to General Putnam’s ride (memorialized on our town seal), Stamford was largely saved from the torched fate that Greenwich, Connecticut suffered.
But the raids from New York and Long Island by British forces and Loyalists continued. And as they grew more severe, Revolutionary leaders deemed a greater structure was necessary.
Rufus Putnam, the engineer responsible for West Point, designed Fort Stamford. Continental troops under the leadership of General David Waterbury constructed the fort in 1781.
At the peak of the war, 800 soldiers occupied this now tranquil space. Ron Marcus, Stamford Historical Society researcher, found an account written by a soldier at Fort Stamford in 1782. The account described suffering from extreme cold, hunger and fatigue.
Fort Stamford After the Revolutionary War
Deemed unnecessary at the end of the war, the new Federal government quickly sold the fort after the war. Later on, residents of the Westover neighborhood started calling Fort Stamford “Fort Nonsense.”
Beginnings of Goodbody Garden
Marcus Goodbody, stockbroker and founder of Goodbody & Co., moved his family to the property in 1928. His wife Virginia built an Italianate Garden, now known as the Goodbody Garden, on the property.
Fort Stamford Park
In preparation for the bicentennial of the Union, the city of Stamford bought the land from the Goodbody family. A section of their land became the Mianus River State Park. The community then worked to renovate the much smaller space of Fort Stamford and Goodbody Garden.
The two spaces combined to form Fort Stamford Park.
As one of the few remaining Revolutionary forts in the state, Fort Stamford Park is a significant historical site in Connecticut.
And one no one’s heard of, this writer included before writing this.
Virginia Goodbody’s formal garden in the park has been restored and is being maintained in part by the Stamford Garden Club.
The lovely Goodbody Garden has a variety of plants, sculptures, and other features that make it a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the scenery. The garden, which shares property with Fort Stamford, is an excellent addition to the site.
After all, at this point, Fort Stamford is just a bunch of little hills.
The garden contains a variety of plants, all of which the Stamford Garden Club has identified on their website. The garden also includes sculptures and other works of art, lending it an intriguing and distinct feel. The renovation in the 1970s preserved many of the features in their original form:
- Italianate balustrade
- The stone pillars supporting the pergola
- The sunken garden
- And the fountain
Aside from Fort Stamford, where else can you learn Revolutionary War history?
In addition to Fort Stamford, there are several other locations in the area where you can learn about the history of the Revolutionary War.
A few more historic sites across Connecticut that feature Revolutionary War period exhibits include:
1) The Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford, Connecticut
A fantastic hiking spot has Revolutionary War educational programs. The Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens also has a Revolutionary War cemetery.
2) The Stamford Museum and Nature Center
You’ll find a collection of Revolutionary War-related artifacts and exhibits nearby to Fort Stamford at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center.
3) The Bush-Holley House
This Greenwich museum reverted a section of its historic home to match how it would appear during and after the Revolutionary War. The Bush-Holley House call this section of the museum, “New Nation Rooms.”
4) Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding, Connecticut
This site served as the site of several Revolutionary War encampments. Today, Putnam Memorial State Park has a museum that chronicles the local history of the conflict.
5) The Keeler Tavern Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut
The Keeler Tavern Museum was a hospital during the Revolutionary War and now tells the story of the conflict in the region.
6) The Battle of Ridgefield Memorial
This Ridgefield memorial commemorates a Revolutionary War battle that took place nearby in 1777.
7) The Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford, Connecticut
This top Connecticut museum for history has a collection of artifacts, documents, and exhibits about the Revolutionary War. Their collection includes letters, diaries, maps, and other primary sources.
And for all the best attractions, activities, and things to do in Stamford, CT, be sure to download your copy of the free Stamford Visitor’s Guide.