Capt. Rufus Avery

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Rufus Avery, Capt.

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Groton, New London, Connecticut Colony
Death: Died in Groton, New London County, Connecticut, United States
Place of Burial: Colonel Ledyard Cemetery, Groton, New London, CT
Immediate Family:

Son of James Avery, V and Elizabeth Avery
Husband of Hannah Avery
Father of David Avery; Asa Lord Avery; Rufus Avery, Jr.; Lydia Lord Walworth and Guerdon Avery
Brother of James Avery, VI; Elizabeth Avery; Robert Avery; Abigail Hoxie; Caleb Avery, Esq. and 8 others
Half brother of Lucy Avery and Elizabeth Avery

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Capt. Rufus Avery

In the early hours of September 6, 1781, Rufus Avery, on watch duty at Fort Griswold, was the first soldier to observe an approaching British fleet. This force, led by Brigadier General Benedict Arnold and Lieutenant Colonel Edmund Eyre, eventually stormed the Fort in what became known as the Battle of Groton Heights.

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Added by E. Nickerson- DAR# A004010-Service: CONNECTICUT Rank: SERGEANT Birth: 11-15-1758 GROTON CONNECTICUT Death: 7-30-1842 GROTON CONNECTICUT Pension Number:

  • S12939

Service Description: 1) ALSO PVT CPL CAPTS. LATHAM, SPICER, 2) GALLUP & NOYES, COLS. SELDEN & LEDYARD /ECN/ 1781 Revolutionary War Patriot - an orderly of Capt William Latham's artillery company during the Fort Griswold Massacre led by Benedict Arnold of the British forces, taken prisoner to New York

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   THE GROTON AVERY CLAN, Vol. I, by Elroy McKendree Avery and Catherine Hitchcock (Tilden) Avery, Cleveland, 1912. Found in the DAR Library, Washington DC. Page 241 & 372-382.
       Rufus Avery was a corporal in Capt. Latham's artillery company; was made orderly sergeant and was in the battle of Groton Heights, Fort Griswold. The following narrative, written by him, is perhaps the best original account we have of that terrible massacre:
       "As I belonged to the garrison at Fort Griswold when Benedict Arnold's army came to New London and Groton, on the sixth of September, 1781, and made the attack on both places, I had every opportunity to know all the movements through the day and time of the battle. I am requested to give a particular account of the conduct of the enemy. I had charge of the garrison the night before the enemy appeared anywhere near us, or were expected by anyone at the time to trouble us. But about three o'colck in hte morning, as soon as I had daylight so as to see the fleet, it appeared a short distance below the lighthouse. The fleet consisted of thirty-two vessels in number -- ships, brigs, schooners and sloops. I immediately sent word to Capt William Latham who commanded the said fort, and who was not far distant. He very soon came to the fort and saw the enemy's fleet, and immediately sent a notice to Col. William Ledyard, who was commander of the harbor, Fort Griswold, and Fort Trumbull. He soon arrived at the garrison, saw the fleet, then ordered two large guns to be loaded with heavy charges of good powder, &c. Capt. William Latham took charge of one gun that was discharged at the northeast part of the fort, and I tood charge of the gun on the west side of the fort, so as to give a 'larum' to the country in the best manner that it could be done. We discharged them regular 'larums.' Two guns was the regular 'larum,' but the enemy understood that, and they discharged a third gun similar to ours and timed it alike, which broke our alarm, which discouraged our troops coming to our assistance.
        Col. William Ledyard immediately sent out two expresses, one from each fort, to call on every captain of a milita company of men to hurry them into our relief. But not many came to our assistance. Their excuse was that they supposed it to be only a false alarm. The discharge of the third gun by the enemy entirely changed the alarm. It was customary, when there was a good prize brought into the harbour, or on the receipt of any good news, to rejoice by discharging three cannon, and this the enemy understood.
       They landed eight hundred officers and men, and some horses and large guns and carriages on the beach at Eastern Point, Groton side of the river, about eight o'clock in the morning, and on the New London side of the river, below the lighthouse on the beach, seven hundred officers and men at the same time. The army on the Groton side was divided into two divisions, about four hundred in each division. Col. Eyre took command of the division southeast of the fort, about the hundred and thirty rods from the fort, behind a ledge of rocks. Major Montgomery took command of his division, about one hundred and fifty rods from the fort, behind a high hill of land. The army on New London side of the river found better and more accommodating marching land then on the Groton side, and as soon as they got against Fort Trumbull they separated into two divisions; one went on to the town of New London, and plundered and set fire to the shipping and buildings, and the other division marched directly down to Fort Trumbull. Capt. Shapley, who commanded the fort, saw that he was likely to be overpowered by the enemy, spiked up the cannon, and embarked on board his boats, which were prepared for him and his men if wanted. But the enemy were so quick upon him the before he and his small company could get out of gunshot in their boats a number of his men got badly wounded. Those who were able to get to Fort Griswold reached there, and most of them were slain. Col. Eyre and Maj. Montgomery had their divisions stationed bout nine o'clock in the morning. As soon as they appeared in sight we hove a number of shots at them, but they would endeavor to disappear immediately.
        About ten o'clock in the forenoon they sent their flag to demand of Col. Ledyard the surrender of the fort. The party with the flag approached within about forty rods of the fort, and we discharged a musket ball before them, and brought them to a stand. Col. Ledyard called a council of war to take the minds of his fellow officers and friends as to what was to be done. They agreed to send a flag to meet theirs, and chose Capt. Elijah Avery, Capt. Amos Stanton and Capt. John Williams. They immedicately met the British flag, and received a demand to give up the fort to them. Our flag soon returned with the summons, which was to surrender the fort to them. Inquiry was made of the council as to what must be done, and the answer was sent to the British flag that the fort would not be given up. Their flag went back to Col. Eyre's division, and soon returned to within seventy rods of the fort, when they were met again by our flag, which brought back to Col. Ledyard the demand if they had to take the fort by storm they should put martial law in force; that is, whom they did not kill with balls should be put to death with sword and bayonet.
        Our flag went to the British flag with Col. Ledyard's answer that he would not give up the fort to them, let the consequence be what it might. While the flags were passing between us we were exchanging shots with the British at Fort Trumbull, of which they had got possession of said fort before the commencement of the battle of Fort Griswold. We could heave a shot into Fort Trumbull among the enemy without difficulity, but they could not raise a shot so high as to come into Fort Griswold. Having obtained possession of our good powder and shot left by Capt. Shapley in the fort, they used it against us.
       About eleven o'clock in the forenoon the enemy found out what we were determined to do. Both divisions started; that of Col. Eyre came on in solid column. As soon as he got on level ground we were prepared to salute them with a gun that took in an eighteen pound ball, but was then loaded with two bags of grape shot. Capt. Elias Henry Halsey directed the gun, and took aim at the enemy. He had practiced on board of privateers, and he did his duty well. I was present with him and others near the gun, and when the shot struck among the enemy, it cleared a wide space in their solid column. It was reported on good aughority that about twenty men were killed and wounded by the charge of grape shot. As soon as the enemy's column was broken by their loss of officers and men, they scattered and trailed their arms, and came on with a quick march and oblique step toward the fort, inclining to the west. during this time, we hove cannon and musket shot among the enemy. Col. Eyer's division came up to the south side and west side of the fort, where he was mortally wounded. Major Montgomery, who started with his division at the same time that Eyre did to come to the fort in solid column, inclined to the north, until they got east of the redoubt or battery, which is east of the fort, when a large number of them came very quick into the battery. Our officers threw a heavy charge of grape shot among them, which distroyed a large number. They then started for the fort, a part of them in platoons, discharging their guns as they advanced, while some scattering officers and soldiers came 'round to the east and north part of the fort.
        As soon as the enemy got 'round the fort one man attempted to open the gate. He lost his life. There was hard fighting some time before the second man made the trial to open the gate, which he did. Our little number of one hundred and fifty-five officers and soldiers, most of whom were volunteers when the battle began were soon overpowered. Then there was no block-house on the parade, as there is now, and the enemy had every opportunity to kill and wound almost every man in the fort.
        When they had overrpowered us and driven us from our stations at the breastwork of the fort, Col. Wm. Ledyard, seeing what few officers and men he had left to do any more fighting, they quit their posts, and went on the open parade in the fort, where the enemy had every opportunity to massacre us. There were about six of the enemy to one of us. The enemy mounted the parapet seemingly all as one, swung their hats around once, and discharged their guns, and those they did not kill bith ball they ment to kill with the bayonet. I was on the west side of the fort, with Capt. Edward Latham and Mr. Christopher Latham, on the platform; had a full sight of the enemy's conduct, and within five feet of those two men. I had at the time a ball and bayonet hole in my coat. As soon as the enemy discharged their guns, they knocked down the two men before mentioned with the britch of their guns, and put their bayonets into them, but did not quite kill them. By this time, Major Montgomery's division, then under the command of Capt. Bromfield (the other gates having been unbolted by one of the men), marched in through the gates, and formed a solid column. At this time I left my station on the west side of the fort, and went across the south part of the parade towards the south end of the barrack. Col. Wm. Ledyard was on the parade, marching towards the enemy under Capt. Bromfield, raising and lowering his sword. He was then about six or eight feet from the British officer. I turned my eyes from Ledyard and stepped up to the door of the barrack, and saw the enemy discharging their guns through the windows. I truned myself immediately about, and the enemy had executed Col. Ledyard, in less time than one minute after I was him. The column had continued marching toward the south end of the parade. I could do no better than to pass across the parade before the enemy's column, as they discharged the volleys of three platoons, the fire of which I went through. I believe there was not less than five or six hundred men of the enemy on the parade in the fort. They killed and wounded nearly every man in the fort as quick as they could, which was don in about one minute. I expected my time would come with the rest. One mad-looking fellow put his bayonet to my side, and swore, 'Bejesus, he would skipper me.' I looked him very earnestly in the face and eyes, and asked for mercy and to spare my life. He attempted three times to pull the bayonet in me, but I must say I believe God forbade him, for I was completely in his power, as well as others that were present with the enemy.
        The enemy at the same time massacred Lieut. Enoch Stanton with four or five feet of me. A platoon of about ten men marched up near where I stood, where two larger outer doors to the magazine made a space wide enough for ten men to stand in one rank. They discharged their guns into the magazine among the dead and wounded, and some well ones, and some they killed and wounded. That platoon fell back, and another platoon came forward to discharge
   Rufus Avery was appointed ensign of the 3d company of militia, 8th reg't, May 1788; lieutenant of 2d company, October 1789; captain of 3d company, October, 1792 (Ms. State Papers, Hartford, Conn.) He was a pensioner.
   DAR PATRIOT INDEX CENTENNIAL EDITION, PART I, A-F, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Centennial Administration, Mrs. Eldred Martin Yochim, President General, Washington: 1990, page 100.
       AVERY, Rufus: b. 11-15-1758 CT, d. 7-30-1842 CT, m. Hannah Lord, Sgt. CT PNSR

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excerpted from www.newrivernotes.com/us/griswold.htm on the Battle of Fort Griswold

It was at three the following morning that Sergeant Rufus Avery, who had charge of the garrison at Fort Griswold, saw a fleet of thirty-two vessels near the entrance of the harbor. He immediately sent word to Captain William Latham, who came at once to the fort. After viewing the fleet, he despatched a message to Colonel William Ledyard, who quickly responded. As the latter stepped into the boat to be rowed across the river he turned to those about him and said, "If I have this day to lose either life or honor, you who know me best know which it will be." Upon his arrival at the fort he ordered two guns to be discharged, the usual alarm. Captain William Latham and Sergeant Rufus Avery fired them at regular intervals, but as the sound of the second one died away, a third was discharged from the fleet, as Benedict Arnold knew well the signal for help, and that three guns were fired when a prize had been brought into the harbor, or a cause for general rejoicing. Seeing this would prevent the troops from coming to the fort, Colonel Ledyard sent swift expresses to call every captain of a militia company to hurry to their aid, and a message was also sent to Governor Trumbull.

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Rufus7 Avery (James6, James, James, James8, James, Christopher1) was b. Nov. 16, 1758, at Groton; m. March 1, 1781, at Groton, Hannah Lord, daughter of Asa and Abigail (Mumford) Lord, and niece of Lydia Lord, who m. David Avery (No. 262). She was b. May 24, 1759, at Groton. Rufus Avery was a corporal in Capt. Latham’s artillery company; was made orderly sergeant and was in the battle of Groton Heights (Fort Griswold). The following narrative, written by him, is perhaps the best original account we have of that terrible massacre:

“As I belonged to the garrison at Fort Griswold when Benedict Arnold’s army came to New London and Groton, on the sixth of September, 1781, and made the attack on both places, I had every opportunity to know all the movements through the day and time of the battle. I am requested to give a particular account of the conduct of the enemy. I had charge of the garrison the night before the enemy appeared anywhere near us, or were expected by anyone at that time to trouble us. But about three o’clock in the morning, as soon as I had daylight so as to see the fleet, It appeared a short distance below the lighthouse The fleet consisted of thirty-two vessels in number— ships, brigs, schooners and sloops. I immediately sent word to Capt. William Latham who commanded the said fort, and who was not far distant He very soon came to the fort and saw the enemy’s fleet, and Immediately sent a notice to Col. William Ledyard, who was commander of the harbor, Fort Griswold, and Fort Trumbull, He soon arrived at the garrison, saw the fleet, then ordered two large guns to be loaded with heavy charges of good powder, &c. Capt. William Latham took charge of one gun that was discharged a the northeast part of the fort, and I took charge of the gun on the west side of the fort, so as to give a ‘larum’ to the country in the beat manner that It could be done, We discharged then regular ‘larums,’ Two guns was the regular ‘larum,’ but the enemy understood that, and they discharged a third gun similar to ours and timed it alike, which broke our alarm, which discouraged our troops coming to our assistance, Col. WillIam Ledyard Immediately sent out two expresses, one from each fort, to call on every captain of a militia company of men to hurry them into our relief, But not many came to our assistance. Their excuse was that they supposed It to be only a false alarm. The discharge of the third gun by the enemy entirely changed the alarm. It was customary, when there was a good prize brought into the harbor, or on the receipt of any good news, to rejoice by discharging three cannon, and this the enemy understood. They landed eight hundred officers and men, and some horses and large guns and carriages on the beach at Eastern Point, Groton side of the river, about eight o’clock in the morning, and on the New London aid, of the river, below the lighthouse on the beach, seven hundred officers and men at the same tlme, The army on the Groton side was divided Into two divisions, about four hundred In each division, Col. Fyre took command of the division southeast of the fort, about one hundred and thirty rods from the fort, behind a ledge of rocks. Major Montgomery took command of his division, about one hundred and flfty rods from the fort, behind a high hill of land. The army on New London side of the river found better and more accommodating marching land than on the Groton side, and as soon as they got against Fort Trumbull they separated into two divisions: one went on to the town of New London, and plundered and set fire to the shipping and buildings, and the other division marched directly down to Fort Trumbull. Capt. Shapley, who commanded the fort, saw that he was likely to be overpowered by the enemy, spiked up the cannon, and embarked on board his boats, which were prepared for him and his men If wanted. But the enemy were so quick upon him that before he and his small company could get out of gunshot In their boats a number of his men got badly wounded. Those who were able to get to Fort Griswold reached there, and most of them were slain. Col, Eyre and Maj. Montgomery had their divisions stationed about nIne o’clock in the morning. As soon as they appeared In sight, we hove a number of shots at them, but they would endeavor to disappear immediately. About ten o’clock in the forenoon they sent their flag to demand of Col. Ledyard the surrender of the fort, The party with the flag approached within about forty rods of the fort, and we discharged a musket ball before them, and brought them to a stand. Col, Ledyard called a council of war to take the minds of his fellow officers and friends as to what was to be done, They agreed to send a flag to meet theirs, and chose Capt. Elijah Avery, Capt. Amos Stanton, and Capt. John Williams, They immediately met the British flag, and received a demand to give up the fort to them, Our flag soon returned with the summons, which was to surrender the fort to them. Inquiry was made of the council as to what must be done, and the answer was sent to the British flag that the fort would not be given up. Their flag went back to Col. Eyre’s division, and soon returned to within seventy rods of the fort, when they were met again by our flag, which brought back to Col. Ledyard the demand If they had to take the fort by storm they should put martial law in force; that Is, whom they dld not kill with ball: should be put to death with sword and bayonet, Our flag went to the British flag with Col. Ledyard’s answer that he should not give up the fort to them, let the consequence be what it might. While the flags were passing between us we were exchanging shots with the British at Fort Trumbull, of which they had got possession of said fort before the commencement of the battle at Fort Griswold, We could heave a shot Into Fort Trumbull among the enemy without difficulty, but they could not raise a shot so high as to come into Fort Griswold, Having obtained possessiion of our good powder and shot left by Capt. Shapley in the fort, they used it against us.

About eleven o’clock in the forenoon the enemy found out what we were determined to do. Both divisions started; that at Col. Eyre came on in solid column, As soon as he got on level ground we were prepared to salute them with a gun that took In an elghteen pound ball, but was then loaded with two bags of grape shot. Capt. Elms Henry Halsey directed the gun, and took aim at the enemy. He had practiced on board of privateers, and he did his duty well, I was present with him and others near the gun, and when the shot struck among the enemy, It riased a wide space in their solid column, It was reported on good authority that about twenty men were killed and wounded by that charge of grape shot, As soon as the enemy’s column was broken by their loss of officers and men, they scattered and trailed their arms, and came on with a quick march and obilque step toward the fort, Inclining to the west. During this time we hove cannon and musket shot among the enemy. Col. Eyre’s division came up to the south side and west side of the fort, where he was mortally wounded, Major Montgomery, who started with his division at the same time that Eyre did to come to the fort in solid column, Inclined to the north, until they got east of the redoubt or battery, which is east of the fort, when a large number of them came very quick into the battery. Our officers threw a heavy charge of grape shot among them, which destroyed a large number. They then started for the fort, a part of them In platoons, discharging their guns as they advanced, while some scattering officers and soldiers came round to the east and north part of the fort. As soon as the enemy got ‘round the fort one man attempted to open the gate. He lost his life. There was hard fighting some time before the second man made the trial to open the gate, which he did. Our little number of one hundred and fifty-five officers and soldiers, most of whom were volunteers when the battle began, were soon overpowered. Then there was no block-house on the parade, as there is now, and the enemy had every opportunity to kill and wound almost every man in the fort. When they had overpowered us and driven us from our stations at the breastwork of the fort, Col. Wm. Ledyard, seeing what few officers and men he had left to do any more fighting, they quit their posts, and went on the open parade in the fort, where the enemy had every opportunity to massacre us. There were about six of the enemy to one of us. The enemy mounted the parapet seemingly all as one, swung their hats around once, and discharged their guns, and those they did not kill with ball they meant to kill with the bayonet. I was on the west side of the fort, with Capt. Edward Latham and Mr. Christopher Latham, on the platform; had a full sight of the enemy’s conduct, and within five feet of these two men. I had at that time a ball and bayonet hole in my coat. As soon as the enemy discharged their guns, they knocked down the two men before mentioned with the britch of theIr guns, and put their bayonets into them, but did not quite kill them. By this time, Major Montgomery’s division, then under the command of Capt. Bromfield (the other gates having been unbolted by one of the men), marched in through the gates, and formed a solid column. At this time I left my station on the west side of the fort, and went across the south part of the parade towards the south end of the barrack. Col. Wm. Ledyard was on the parade, marching towards the enemy under Capt. Bromfield, raising and lowering his sword. He was then about six or eight feet from the British officer. I turned my eyes from Ledyard and stepped up to the door of the barrack, and saw the enemy discharging their guns through the windows. I turned myself immediately about, and the enemy had executed Col. Ledyard, in less time than one minute after I saw him. The column then continued marching toward the south end of the parade, I could do no better than to pass across the parade before the enemy’s column, as they discharged the volleys of three platoons, the fire of which I went through. I believe there was not less than five or six hundred men of the enemy on the parade in the fort. They killed and wounded nearly every man In the fort as quick as they could, which was done In about one minute. I expected my time would come with the rest. One madlooking fellow put his bayonet to my side, and swore, ‘Bejasus, he would skipper me.’ I looked him very earnestly In the face and eyes, and asked for mercy and to spare my life. He attempted three times to put the bayonet In me, but I must say I believe God forbade him, for I was completely In his power, as well as others that were present with the enemy. The enemy at the same time massacred Lieut. Enoch Stanton within four or five feet of me. A platoon of about ten men marched up near where I stood, where two larger outer doors to the magazine made a space wide enough for ten men to stand in one rank. They discharged their guns into the magazine among the dead and wounded, and some well ones, and some they killed and wounded, That platoon fell back, and another platoon came forward to discharge their guns into the outer part of the magazine, where the others did, As they made ready to fire, Capt. Bromfield came suddenly ‘round the corner of the magazine, and very quickly raised his sword, exclaimlng, ‘Stop firing You’ll send us all to hell together! Their language was bad as well as their conduct. I was near him when he spoke. Bromfield knew there must be, of course, much powder scattered about the magazine, and a great quantity deposited there, but I expect the reason It did not take fire was that there warn so much human blood to put it out. They did not bayonet many after they ceased firing their guns. I was amongst them all the time, and they very soon left off killing, and then went stripping and robbing the dead and wounded, and also those that were not wounded, Then they ordered each one of us to march out to the northeast part of the parade, and those that could not go themselves, from their wounds, were to be helped by those who were well, Mr. Samuel Edgecomb, jr., and myself were ordered to take Ensign Charles Eldredge out of the magazine. He warn a very large, heavy man, who had been shot in the knee-joint. We poor prisoners were taken out on the parade, about two rods from the gates of the fort, and every man ordered to sit down Immediately, and If not obeyed at once the bayonet was to be put Into him, The battle warn then finished, which was about one o’clock in the afternoon; the enemy began to take care of their dead and wounded. The first thing they did was to take off six of the outer doors of the barrack, and with four men to a door would bring in one man at a time on each door, There were twenty-four men at work about two hours as fast as they could walk and deposit them on the west side of the parade in the fort, where it was the most comfortable place they could find, while we poor prisoners were put In the moat uncomfortable spot on the parade, In the fort, where the sun shone down so very warm on us that it made us feel more unhappy. Some of the wounded men lay dying. Capt. Youngs Ledyard and Capt. Nathan Moore were among. their number. I sat on the ground with the other prisoners, and these two fine men lay on the ground by me, Ledyard’s head on one thigh, and Moore’s head on the other. They both died that night. While I was with them they had their reason, and requested water for their thirst. I asked of the enemy water for my brother prisoners to drink, as well as for myself. They granted my request. The well was within two rods of us. I watched them when they brought the water to me for us to drink, to see that they did not put anything In it to poison us; for they had repeatedly said that we must die before the sun went down, because that was in the summons sent to Col. Wm. Ledyard that those who were not killed by the musket-ball should die by the sword and bayonet. But happy for us that were alive, they did not offer to hurt any one man, and they said that was a falsehood. They kept us on the ground in the garrison about two hours after the battle was over, and then ordered every man who was able to walk to rise up Immediately. Sentries with loaded guns and fixed bayonets were placed around us, with orders to shoot or bayonet any one that did not obey the officer. I was obliged to leave two dying men who were resting on me as they lay on the ground beside me. We marched down on the bank by the river so as to be ready to embark to go on board the British fleet. Then, about thirty of us, every man was ordered to sit down, and, as at other times, were surrounded with sentries. Capt. Broznfleld came and took the names of the wounded that were able to march down with us. I sat where I had a fair view of the enemy’s conduct, The sun was about half an hour high, and they were setting fire to the buildings, and bringing down plunder by us as we were placed at the lower part of the village. At the same time a large number of the enemy between us and the fort were getting ready to quit the ground. They loaded up our very large, heavy ammunition wagon, that belonged to the fort, with the wounded men who could not go themselves, and about twenty of the soldiers drew it out of the fort and brought It to the brow of the hill on which the fort stood, which was very steep, and about thirty rods distant. As soon as the enemy began to move the wagon down the hill, they began to put themselves in a position to hold It back with all their power. They found it too much for them to do; they released their hold on the wagon as quickly as possible, to prevent being run over by the wagon themselves, leaving It to run down the hill with great speed. It ran about twelve rods to a large apple-tree stump, and both shafts of the wagon struck very hard, and hurt the wounded men very much. A great number of the enemy were near where the wagon stopped, and they immediately ran to the wagon, and brought that and the wounded men by where we prisoners were sitting on the ground, and deposited them in the house near by, that belonged to Ensign Ebenezer Avery, who was one that was In the wagon when It started down the hill. Some of the enemy had set fire to the house before the wounded prisoners were placed in it, but the fire was put out by some of the others. Capt. Bromfield paroled the wounded men who were left, and took Ebenezer Ledyard, Esq., as a hostage for them left on parole, to see them forthcoming, if called for. By this time the enemy’s boats came up to the shore near where we prisoners were. The officer spoke with a doleful sound: ‘Come, you rebels, go on board the boats.’ That touched my feelings more than anything that passed that day. I realized that I should have to leave my dear wife and my good neighbors and friends, and also my native land, and suffer with cold and hunger, as I was in the power of a cruel foe or enemy; but I was still in the hands of a higher power, which was a great consolation for me, for I am sensible that God has preserved my life through many hardships, and when in danger of losing my life many times in the wars, etc. When we prisoners had marched down to the shore, the boats that were to receive us on board were kept off where the water was about knee-deep, and we were marched down in two ranks, one on each side of the boat. The officer that had the command very harshly ordered us to ‘get on board immediately.’ There were about twelve prisoners in a boat. They rowed us down to an armed sloop, commanded by one Capt. Thomas, as they called him, a refugee tory, who lay with his vessel within the fleet, As soon as they put us on board the sloop they shut us down in the hold of the vessel, where they had a fire for cooking, which make It very hot and smoky. They stopped up the hatchway, making it so close that we had no air to breathe. We begged that they would spare our lives, and they gave us some relief by opening the hatchway, and letting one or two of us on deck at a time during the night, but with sentries with guns and bayonets to watch us. They did not give us anythlng to eat for about twenty-four hours, and then only a mess made of hogs’ brains that they caught on Groton bank, with other plunder. While we were on board Thomas’s sloop we had nothing to eat or drink that we could hardly swallow. This continued about three days. There were a number of weapons of war where we were placed in the vessel, and some of the prisoners whispered together that there was an opportunity to make a prize of the sloop. This somehow got to the officers’ ears, and they immediately shut us down in the hold of the vessel. I felt very certain that we would have to suffer, for they seemed so enraged that they appeared to have an intention to massacre us all. They soon got ready, and began to call us up on deck, one by one. As I came up they tied my hands behind me with strong yarns, binding them together, and winding the rope yarn so hard as to nearly bring my shoulder-blades to touch each other. Then they had a boat come from a fourteen-gun brig commanded by a Capt. Steel, by name and nature. I was ordered to get over the side of the sloop without the use of my hands, the bulwarks above the deck being all of three feet in height, and then I had to fall into the boat that was to carry us to the brig, and was made to lay down under the seats on which the rowers sat, as though we were brutes about to be slaughtered. After we were put on board the brig, we were ordered to stand in one rank beside the gunwale of the vessel, and a spar was placed before us, leaving about one foot space for each man to stand In, with a sentry to nearly every man, with orders to bayonet or shoot anyone who offered to move. They kept us in that situation about two hours with the rain and cold with very thin clothing upon us, and then gave us liberty to go about the main deck, and were obliged to lie on the wet deck without’ anything to eat or drink for supper. We were on board the brig about four days, and then put on board a ship commanded by Capt. Scott, who appeared very friendly to us prisoners. He took me on the quarter deck with him. He was apparently about sixty years of age, and I remained with him until I was exchanged. Capt. Nathaniel Shaw came down to New York with the American flag after me and four young men that were made prisoners with me, that belonged to the garrison at Fort Griswold, and during the time of the battle behaved like good soldiers. General Muffin came with the Britsh flag to meet the American flag. I sailed with him about twenty miles in the flag-boat. He asked me some questions and I gave him little or no information. I told him that I was very sorry that they came to destroy so many good men, and cause so much distress to families and desolation to the community, by burning so much valuable property; and further, that I did not believe they would gain any honor by it. He replied, we might thank our own countrymen for it. I told him that I should not. I then turned to the General and said, ‘Will you answer me a few questions?’‘As many as you please, Sir,’ was his reply. I made many enquiries, and asked him how many of the enemy were missing that were engaged in the attack on Groton and New London, remarking, ‘Sir, I expect you can tell us, as you are the Commissary of the British army. He said, ‘I find in the returns that there are two hundred and twenty odd mising, but I don’t know what became of them.’ Here I conclude the foregoing particular account from my own personal knowledge of the British attack and capture of Fort Griswold, and their brutal conduct ‘at New London and Groton, and also of their barbarous treatment of the prisoners who fell into their hands.’

Rufus Avery was appointed ensign of the 3d company of militia, 8th reg’t, May, 1788; lieutenant of 2d company, October, 1789; captain of 3d company, October, 1792 (Ms. State Papers, Hartford). He was a pensioner. His wife died April 6, 1836, at Groton; he died July 30, 1842, at Groton.

Reference:

The Groton Avery Clan

Volume I, Chapter X

Pages 371-381

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Capt. Rufus Avery's Timeline

1758
November 16, 1758
Groton, New London, Connecticut Colony
1781
March 1, 1781
Age 22
Groton, New London County, Connecticut, United States
October 9, 1781
Age 22
Groton, New London, CT
1783
March 1, 1783
Age 24
Groton, New London, CT
1785
March 7, 1785
Age 26
Groton, New London, CT
1786
November 3, 1786
Age 27
Groton, New London, CT
1791
September 24, 1791
Age 32
Groton, New London, CT
1842
July 30, 1842
Age 83
Groton, New London County, Connecticut, United States
????
Groton, New London, CT