The Hessian

The Hessian

The Hessian

The Hessian

Excerpt

For six years, from 1983 to 1989, my wife and I lived in Redding, Connecticut, a wonderful little town about six miles from Danbury. The colonial character of the town center has been remarkably preserved, and if you come upon it unexpectedly, it is like stepping back two hundred years in time. It is the town where Mark Twain once built a splendid house, where he was influential in starting the delightful Mark Twain Library, and where his spirit hangs over the community.

It is also a town haunted by a place called Gallows Hill. The name intrigued me, and I tracked down the story. A seventeen-year-old Connecticut volunteer in the Revolution had deserted and returned to his mother's home. General Israel Putnam, a fierce old warrior in command of the Connecticut troops, hunted down this young deserter and, determined to make an example of him, hanged him on what is now called Gallows Hill--in sight of his mother's house.

At first, no Connecticut soldier would pull the hangman's rope, no matter how Putnam raged. Finally, Putnam did the execution himself.

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