About This Location
Fort Griswold, a historic gem in Groton, Connecticut, stands as a poignant reminder of America's turbulent beginnings. This former defensive fortification, named after Deputy Governor Matthew Griswold, witnessed the raw and brutal realities of the American Revolutionary War. Today, it serves not only as a historical site but also as a place of reflection and education, immortalized as Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park.
Constructed in 1775, amid the fervor of the Revolutionary War, Fort Griswold's strategic location on a hill overlooking the Thames River made it a formidable site. Designed to defend the vital port of New London, it played a critical role in safeguarding the region from British forces. The fort's significance was most dramatically underscored during the infamous Battle of Groton Heights in September 1781, under the command of the turncoat, Benedict Arnold. This battle saw the overwhelming defeat of American forces and the tragic death of Lieutenant-Colonel William Ledyard in a cruel turn of events, marking a dark chapter in the fort's history.
After the war, Fort Griswold continued to serve military purposes, albeit with less prominence. It was active during the War of 1812 and underwent several reconstructions and modernizations over the years, adapting to the evolving needs of defense technology. However, with the completion of Fort H.G. Wright on Fishers Island in the early 20th century, Fort Griswold's military importance dwindled, and it eventually fell into obsolescence.
In 1953, the State of Connecticut breathed new life into the site, transforming it into a state park. Visitors to Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park can explore the restored earthwork battery, complete with cannons, a shot furnace, and a powder magazine. The park beautifully preserves this piece of American history, allowing visitors to step back in time and envision the fort as it once was. The fort was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 6, 1970. The reference number for the fort, assigned by the National Park Service, is 70000694.
One of the park's most striking features is the Groton Monument, a towering granite obelisk that stands as a solemn tribute to the defenders who fell during the Battle of Groton Heights. Climbing the monument's 166 steps offers a panoramic view of the surroundings and a tangible connection to the past. Adjacent to it is the Monument House Museum, operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution, which houses exhibits detailing the Revolutionary War.
Another significant historical structure within the park is the Ebenezer Avery House, which served as a refuge for the wounded following the battle. This house has been preserved as a museum, offering visitors a glimpse into the life and times of the Revolutionary era.
The park's role in connecting people with history is further enhanced by its inclusion in the Thames River Heritage Park Water Taxi route. This water taxi provides a unique perspective of the area, connecting Fort Griswold with other historical sites across the Thames River.
Ample free parking around the fort makes it easily accessible for visitors. The park is open daily, offering a serene environment for contemplation and exploration. The museum and monument, open seasonally, enrich the experience with their educational exhibits and breathtaking views.
Visiting Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park is more than just a walk through a historic site; it's an immersive experience into a pivotal moment in American history. It's a place where the echoes of the past meet the tranquility of the present, inviting visitors to appreciate the sacrifices made for the nation's independence.