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RUFUS PUTNAM (1738-1824)

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 671 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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RUFUS PUTNAM (1738-1824), American soldier and pioneer, was born in Sutton, Massachusetts, on the 9th of April 1738 (O.S.). His grandfather was a half brother to Israel Putnam's father. He served in the French and Indian War in 1757-60; was a millwright in New Braintree in 1761-1768, during which time he studied surveying; and from 1769 until the War of Independence was a farmer and surveyor. In 1773, with Israel 1 So loose was the army's organization that it is impossible to settle the question whether Putnam or Prescott was in command at Bunker Hill. Apparently their authority did not clash and was practically independent. See Justin Winsor in his Narrative and Critical History, vi. 19o-191 (reprinted in Livingston's Israel Putnam, as2 On the 26th of February 1779, with a small outpost, he was surprised near Greenwich by a superior force under General William Tryon. He ordered a retreat, started to Stamford for reinforcements and, being closely pursued by several dragoons, is said to have ridden down a steep hill ((marked in 190o with a granite monument), and thus escaped. From Stamford he hastened back with reinforcements and took thirty-eight prisoners from Tryon. Putnam and two others, he visited West Florida to examine lands which, it was expected, were to be granted to the provincial troops for their services against the French and Indians, and which he charted (see Mississippi). He became lieutenant-colonel in one of the first regiments raised after the battle of Lexington, and served before Boston; in March 1776 he was made chief engineer of the works at New York; in August he was appointed engineer with the rank of colonel; and when Congress did not act on his plan (submitted in Oct. 1776) for the establishment of a distinct engineer corps he resigned (Dec. 1776), and in 1777 served in the northern army under Major-General Horatio Gates, commanding two regiments in the second battle of Saratoga. In 1778 he laid out fortifications, including Fort Putnam, at West Point, and in 1779 he served under Major-General Anthony Wayne after the capture of Stony Point. For the remainder of the war he saw little active service. In January 1783 he was commissioned brigadier-general. After the war he returned to Rutland, Mass., where he had bought a confiscated farm in 1780. In March 1786 he founded, with other officers of the War of Independence, the Ohio Company of Associates for the purchase and settlement of Western lands. In November 1787, after Congress had made its grant to the Ohio Company, he was appointed by the company superintendent of its proposed settlement on the Ohio, and in 1788 he led the small party which founded Marietta, Ohio. He was a judge of the court of the North-West Territory in 1790-1796; was a brigadier-general in the army and a commissioner to treat with the Indians in 1792-1793; was surveyor-general of the United States in 1796-1803; and in 1802 was a member of the Ohio state constitutional convention. He died, in Marietta, on the 4th of May 1824. He has been called " The Father of Ohio," and he contributed greatly toward the material building up of the North-West Territory. See John W. Campbell, Biographical Sketches (Columbus, Ohio, 1838); Sidney Crawford, " Rufus Putnam, and his Pioneer Life in the North-West," vol. xii., new series, pp. 431-454, Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, 1899), and Rowena Buell (ed.), The Memoirs of Rufus Putnam (Boston, 1903), in which his autobiography, his journal and other papers, now in the library of Marietta College, are reprinted. His Journal, 1757-1760, dealing with his experiences in the French and Indian War, was edited with notes by E. C. Dawes (Albany, New York, 1886).
End of Article: RUFUS PUTNAM (1738-1824)
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