Putnam, Israel

Putnam, Israel (1718-1790) General: Putnam established himself as a farmer and local leader in Connecticut, and his social position was improved by his second marriage to Deborah Avery Gardiner, a wealthy widow. During the Seven Years' War, he was one of Rogers' Rangers, served under Jefferey Amherst in the Albany campaign, escaped execution by Native Americans, and survived a shipwreck off the coast of Cuba. Putnam earned a reputation for bravery and skill as a scout, guerilla warrior, and regimental leader. In 1775, Congress commissioned him a major general, one of four in the Continental Army, because of his military experience and social prominence. In the Revolutionary War, however, Putnam did not maintain his reputation for military excellence. In the first year of the war, he commanded the center of the American line during the siege of Boston, and was an important player in the disaster that was the Battle of Long Island. General Washington began to doubt Putnam's abilities as a field commander by 1777. He placed Putnam in charge of the Hudson Highlands, but removed him when he lost Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery to the British. For the remaining duration of the war, Putnam played only a minor role and, in 1779, a stroke brought his military career to a close.