Home Research paper New details of soldiers’ remains found at Ridgefield revealed as search continues

New details of soldiers’ remains found at Ridgefield revealed as search continues


RIDGEFIELD – The evolution of history – and the magic of discovery – were spotlighted Friday night at a forum presented by the Ridgefield Historical Society to kick off the weekend’s 245th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Ridgefield.

Hundreds of people attended a panel program at East Ridge Middle School to discuss the skeletal remains of what are believed to have been four men who fell in the historic Battle of Main Street between British and American troops April 27, 1777.

“It took it to a whole new level this year,” Nancy Rowe, general manager, said of the celebration.

State archaeologists and researchers from various universities continue to investigate the remains discovered in December 2019, when work was underway in the basement of a historic house near Main Street.

“It all starts as a criminal investigation,” said Connecticut state archaeologist emeritus Nick Bellantoni, recounting how his office was contacted after the state medical examiner determined that the remains of the first individual found in late 2019 were determined over 100 years ago. years.

Considered a very large man for the time, standing just under six feet tall, he was found lying with his head to the west and his feet pointing directly to the east – the ceremonial custom in Christian burials of this period.

Further investigation found a second skeleton, then a third and a fourth, indicating a probably quick and relatively unceremonious burial without the use of coffins. As they were all adult males, researchers saw that it was unlikely to be a family plot, but rather the burial of the battle dead nearby.

“They were hastily buried, it seems, buried,” said Bellantoni, who praised the owners who allowed search and excavation work to take place for two months in the dead of winter. .

“We were lucky to have wonderful owners, really extremely cooperative,” he said, who understood the importance of this discovery.

In addition to the remains, 37 brass alloy and two pewter buttons were also discovered, likely vests or jackets, but not detailed enough to identify exactly which side these men were fighting on.

“Any fully dressed individual would have great potential for a lot of pimples,” noted current Connecticut State Archaeologist Sarah Sportman, especially men from this period.

One button in particular, however, known as button 32, turned out to be not a button at all, but a finial – or connection button – at the base of a powder horn, indicating that these men were engaged in combat.

“I think there’s a lot of potential here to learn a lot of interesting information,” she said, as testing progresses into areas that will include genetic, x-ray, osteology and dental analysis, not to mention of genetics.

Over the next year of research, she said, scientists and scholars could potentially work out who the men were related to, where they came from and details about their lives.

“The lab procedures themselves take time,” she said, but the work is underway, thanks in part to a major grant from the US Battlefield Shield Program.

The grant money will also be used to conduct further research in the city over the next two years to learn more about the battlefield itself.

“This is a vast battlefield that probably cannot be completed in any way within the grant cycle,” said David Naumec, historian and field researcher at Heritage Consultants.

He said future work under the ABPP will hopefully include education elements related to expanding the history and story of Ridgefield’s battle for the city.

“For historians and archaeologists, this is an incredible moment of discovery,” said Connecticut State Historian Walter Woodward, who moderated the presentation.

“In Connecticut, the Battle of Ridgefield is arguably…one of the most significant moments,” he said.

Alongside Kevin McBride, archaeologist and field researcher at Heritage Consultants, the program included local historian and author Keith Jones, who wrote Farmers Against the Crown about the battle itself.

“Every Ridgefielder knows the story…You can’t buy a house in town without learning this,” he said.

Given this new discovery, however, Jones said much more about it may come to light soon.