The New Student's Reference Work/Putnam, Israel

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Put′nam, Israel, a general of the American Revolution, was born in what now is Danvers, Mass., Jan. 7, 1718. In 1739 he bought a farm near Pomfret, Conn., and devoted himself to its cultivation and to wool-growing. During the years he was engaged in this occupation a she-wolf committed considerable ravages upon his sheep and those of the neighborhood, and all efforts to capture or kill her were in vain until Putnam entered her den in a rocky cavern with a torch in one hand and a gun in the other, and shot her before she had time to spring upon him. Putnam distinguished himself in the French and Indian War, and at the breaking out of the Revolutionary War was placed at the head of the Connecticut troops. He was active and conspicuous at Bunker Hill, soon after which he was commissioned major-general in the Continental army; and in 1777 he was appointed to the defense of the Hudson River highlands. While at Peekskill, a lieutenant in a British regiment was captured as a spy and condemned to death; and when Sir Henry Clinton sent a message under a flag of truce, threatening reprisals if the sentence should be carried out, Putnam returned the following famous answer: “Headquarters, Aug. 7, 1777. Edmund Palmer, an officer in the enemy's service, was taken as a spy lurking within our lines; he has been tried as a spy, condemned as a spy and shall be hung as a spy, and the flag is ordered to depart immediately — Israel Putnam. P. S. He has accordingly been hung.” In 1778 Putnam made his famous escape from Tryon's dragoons by riding down a steep declivity at Horseneck, Conn. The next year he suffered a stroke of paralysis, and the remainder of his life was spent at home. He died at Brooklyn, Conn., May 19, 1790.