“When the news of the battle of Lexington reached New Haven, the Guard were immediately assembled, when some fifty voted to march to Boston to the assistance of their country. Most of the Company who had volunteered their services subscribed to the following agreement and proclamation, which is the first declaration of any body of citizens or of any military company in the country of armed resistance to the authority of the English government.
On the 22d day of April, 1775, and before starting for Cambridge they were formed on the lower Green, and after being addressed by the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, they took up their line of march.”
Agreement and Proclamation
‘To all Christian people believing in and relying on that God to whom our enemies have at last forced us to appeal.
Be it known that we, the subscribers, having taken up arms for the relief of our brethren and defense of their, as well as our, just rights and privileges, declare to the world that we from the heart disavow every thought of rebellion to his Majesty, as supreme head of the British empire, or of opposition to legal authority, and shall on every occasion manifest to the world by our conduct this to be our fixed principle Driven to the last necessity, and obliged to have recourse to arms in defense of our lives and liberties; and from the suddenness of the occasion deprived of that legal authority, the dictates of which we ever with pleasure obey, find it necessary for preventing disorders, irregularities and misunderstandings, in the course of our march and service, solemnly agree, to and with each other, on the following regulations and orders, binding ourselves by all that is dear and sacred, carefully and constantly to observe and keep them.
In the first place we will conduct ourselves decently and inoffensively as we march, both to our countrymen and one another, paying that regard to the advice, admonition and reproof of our officers, which their station justly entitles them to expect; ever considering the dignity of our own character, and that we are not mercenaries, whose views extend no further than pay and plunder, whose principles are such that lead to the obtaining, as agreeable, though wading through the blood of their countrymen, but men acquainted with and feeling the most generous fondness for the liberties and unalienable rights of mankind, and who are in the course of divine Providence called to the honorable service of hazarding their lives in their defense.
Secondly, drunkenness, gaming, profaneness, and every vice of that nature shall be avoided by ourselves and discountenanced by us in others.
Thirdly, so long as we continue in our present situation of a voluntary, independent Company (the Guards went to Cambridge in the capacity of a volunteer, independent company, and chose their officers for the occasion, being under the sanction of no legislator or delegated power save that of their own will and self-constituted freedom of action), we engage to submit on all occasions to such decisions as shall be made and given by the majority of the officers, the Captain, Lieutenants, Ensign, Sergeants, Clerk and Corporals; the Captain, or in his absence the commanding officer, to be the moderator, and have a turning or casting voice in the debates, from which all others shall from time to time issue; scorning all ignoble motives and superior to the lower and slavish practice of enforcing on men their duty by blows. It is agreed that when private admonition for any offense by any of our body committed, will not reform, public shall be made, and if that should not have the effect, after proper pains taken, and the same repeated, such incorrigible person shall be turned out of the Company as totally unworthy of serving in so great and glorious a cause and be delivered over to suffer the contempt of his countrymen.
As to particular orders, it shall from time to time, be in the power of the officers, to make and vary them as occasion may require, as to delivering out provisions, ammunition, rules and orders of marching, etc.
The annexed order, for the present, we think pertinent and agreeable to our mind, to which, with the additions or variations that may be made by our said officers, we bind ourselves by the ties above mentioned, to submit. In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands this 24th day of April, 1775.’
The records of this Company show one thing which conflicts with all the accredited history of the early days of the Revolution, in regard to the news from Lexington reaching General Putnam while at work in the field. He, in all these histories, is represented as leaving his plow in the furrow and taking one of his horses and starting for the field of battle. Our records show that the news of the battle was received in New Haven on the twenty-first of April; that the Company was mustered a short time after and started for Cambridge; that on the Company reaching Pomfret, Conn., on their march to Boston, they were there joined by General Putnam, who accompanied them the rest of their march.
March to Cambridge
The news of the battle of Lexington arrived at New Haven on Friday, the 21st of April, about noon, and Captain Arnold immediately called out his Company, and proposed their starting for Lexington to join the American army. About forty of them consented to accompany their commander. Being in want of ammunition, Arnold requested the town authorities to furnish the Company, which they refused to do. The next day, immediately before they started Arnold marched his Company to the house where the selectmen were sitting, and after forming them in front of the building, sent in word that if the keys of the powder house were not delivered up to him in five minutes he would order the Company to break it open and furnish themselves. This had the desired effect and the keys were delivered up. They stopped at Wethersfield the second night, where the inhabitants vied with each other in their attentions to them. They took the middle road through Pomfret, at which place they were joined by General Israel Putnam. On the Guard’s arrival at Cambridge, they took up their quarters at a splendid mansion owned by Lieutenant Governor Oliver, who was obliged to flee on account of his attachment to the British cause. The Company was the only one on the ground complete in their uniforms and equipments, and, owing to their soldier-like appearance, were appointed to deliver the body of a British officer, who had been taken prisoner by the Americans, and had died in consequence of his wounds received at the battle of Lexington. Upon this occasion, one of the British officers appointed to receive the body from the Guard, expressed his surprise at seeing an American Company appear so well in every respect, observing that in their military movements and equipments, ‘they were not excelled by any of his Majesty’s troops.’
After remaining nearly three weeks at Cambridge, the Guard, excepting those who remained in the army, returned to New Haven. The Company drew twenty-eight days’ pay for their service. Captain Arnold had been commissioned as Colonel by the Massachusetts Committee of Safety and authorized to proceed to Ticonderoga under his suggestion. About twenty of the Company joined him upon this expedition. The records do not show the names of the men who went upon this expedition, nor their after-fate. Evidently Lieutenant Leavenworth went with his chief, as we ascertain later that in the war of the Revolution he was a Colonel upon Arnold’s staff when Arnold was a Major-General, commanding on the Hudson.
The date of their return to New Haven cannot be ascertained, but we find that on Wednesday, June 28th, 1775, General George Washington on his way to take command of the Continental forces near Boston, together with Major General Lee and Major Thomas Mifflin, General Washington’s aide-de-camp, and Samuel Griffin, Esq., General Lee’s aide-de-camp, arrived in New Haven. Very early the next morning (the 29th) they reviewed the local troops on the Green and set out to continue their journey, escorted as far as the historic ‘Neck Bridge’ by the Second Company of the Governor’s Guard, another uniformed company and the company that had been recruited from the students of Yale College, and accompanied by a great number of the inhabitants of the town. Noah Webster, heading the procession with his fife, or to use his own words, ‘It fell to my humble lot to lead this company with music.’ This was the first uniformed and armed military escort tendered to General Washington on his through New England.
Called the New Haven Cadets
The Company went to Cambridge under the name of the New Haven Cadets, as they could not go under the name of the Second Company of the Governor’s Guard because they left New Haven in opposition to the wishes of the authorities, as seen by the powder house episode, when they demanded the keys of the selectmen and took ammunition in opposition to their wishes.
Benedict Arnold, the first commandant of this Company, was a druggist and a sea captain, trading with the West Indies.
Hezekiah Sabin, Jr., the second commandant, kept a crockery store on State street, corner of Chapel. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
James Hillhouse, the third commandant of the Company, was a United States Senator, etc.
Daniel Bishop, the fourth commandant, was of the firm of Bishop & Hotchkiss, whose store was where the New Haven Bank now stands.
Nathaniel Fitch, the fifth commandant of the Company, was a selectman of New Haven and lived on College street.
Samuel Greenough, business not known.
Elias Stillwell, schoolmaster.
Thaddeus Beecher, merchant.
John Townsend, trader.
Ezra Ford, tavern-keeper.
Nathan Beers, Jr., became a Captain in the Revolutionary Army.
Deacon Beers was a Captain and Paymaster in the Revolutionary Army
James Warren, particulars not known.
Nathaniel Oaks, chair-maker.
Daniel Ingalls, particulars not known.
Jonas Prentice, afterwards a Colonel, lived on the corner of Orange and Court streets.
William Lyon, cashier of the Old New Haven Bank.
Dyer Hoyt, business not known.
Hanover Barney, saddler and ship owner.
James Merriman, business not known.
Jeremiah Atwater, business not known.
Francis Sage, particulars not known.
Archibald Austin, merchant and mechanic.
Eliakim Hitchcock, silversmith.
James Huggins, particulars not known.
Parsons Clark, saddler.
James Prescott, merchant.
Stephen Herrick, joiner.
Jonathan Austin, joiner.
David Burbank, not known.
Elijah Austin kept a store on the wharf, was concerned with navigation, etc.
Amos Morrison, barber.
Rossiter Griffing, grocer.
Gold Sherman, tailor.
William Noyes, leather dresser.
Abraham Tuttle, shoemaker.
Jabez Smith is believed to have kept the Ogden Tavern, where the Tontine now stands.
Jonathan Mix, Jr., kept a variety store where New Haven County bank stands.
Jeremiah Parmele served in the War of the Revolution; he was in the battle of Brandywine, where he was wounded and died.
Joshua Newhall was a shoemaker.
Josiah Burr, merchant.
Eleaser Oswald, an accomplished foreigner and a strong friend of liberty; a man of leisure.
Benoni Shipman, mechanic.
Hezekiah Bailey, seaman.
Jesse Leavenworth, the first Lieutenant of the corps, was a trader.
Timothy Jones, Jr., an acting Justice of the Peace, etc.
Hezekiah Beecher, one of the youngest members, was an uncle of Rev. Dr. Beecher, the celebrated clergyman. He was a blacksmith.
Amos Gilbert, farmer.
Seabury Champlin, particulars not known.
William Lanman, particulars not known.
Pierpont Edwards, a distinguished lawyer; became United States District Judge.
Kiersted Mansfield, mason.
Elias Townsend, joiner.
Hezekiah Augur, joiner, was the father of Hezekiah Augur, the sculptor.
Joseph Peck, formerly jailer.
William Jones, school-teacher.
Ebenezer Huggins, a wealthy merchant.
Aner Bradley, afterwards a militia Colonel in Watertown, and a town clerk there for many years.
Amos Doolittle, engraver.”
-Excerpt and images courtesy of the HathiTrust Digital Library, New York Public Library, “A souvenir of New Haven, Connecticut : fraternally dedicated to the Richmond light infantry blues battalion of Richmond, Virginia / by the Second company Governor’s foot guard, upon the occasion of their visit to New Haven, September 9, 10, 11, 1908,” Ryder’s printing house, 1908 (top) “‘Washington at Morristown, N.J.,’ an 1852 wood engraving by John Warner Barber.” Image courtesy of Newspapers.com, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania), March 15, 2014