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Colonel William Ledyard
Colonel William Ledyard
American, 1738 - 1781
Biography: Colonel William Ledyard was commanding officer of Fort Griswold, Groton, Connecticut, when British troups, ultimately commanded by Benedict Arnold, took the Fort on 6 September 1781. Colonel Ledyard was killed with his own sword by a British officer; this is regarded as one of the most outrageous incidents of the American Revolution, because he had already surrendered. Little is known of Colonel Ledyard's early life. Born on 6 December 1738, in Groton, Connecticut, he was the son of John and Deborah Youngs Ledyard. William Ledyard married Anne Williams of Stonington in January of 1761. They had nine children: Mary Ann (1763-1782); Sarah (1765-1781); William (1766-1777); Deborah (1769-1791); John Yarborough (1773-1792); Peter Vandervoort (1775-1829); William (1777-1795); Henry Young (1780-1790); and Charles Grover (1781-1790). William Ledyard was a member of military and correspondence committees even in the early days of the American Revolution. In 1776 he was made captain of artillery; his ascent led him to the rank of Colonel. Eyewitness reports describe Colonel Ledyard's end: on 6 September 1781, after a spirited struggle against a much greater body of British troops, Colonel Ledyard's men lost Fort Griswold in the Battle of Groton Heights. A British officer demanded to know who commanded the Fort, to which Colonel Ledyard reportedly replied, "I did, but you do now," as he offered his sword in surrender, he was stabbed with a bayonnet of the type found on the British Brown Bess. Ledyard's death was followed by a general massacre of the garrison. A monument was errected on the scene of the battle in 1830, and in 1854 Ledyard was honored by a smaller monument in the cemetary.