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You are at stop #3 on the American Revolution, Hartford tour

John Quincy Adams Ward’s bronze of Israel Putnam was one of the first public sculptures dedicated in the new Bushnell Park. Dr. Horace Bushnell, principal donor and genius behind the idea of this innovative public garden for Hartford, was in attendance at the dedication in June, 1874. This bronze, eight-foot monument was created by Ward in 1873 at the same time that he was at work on the six Allegories of Humanity for the drum of the dome of the State Capitol, which is in sight of the Putnam statue.

The monument honors the American citizen-soldier and Revolutionary War General who valiantly commanded troops at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. Putnam had earlier served in the French and Indian Wars and had been a major in Rogers‘ Rangers in 1757. Retired to private life as a farmer, Putnam was plowing his farm fields in Pomfret, Connecticut when a mounted messenger arrived on April 20, 1775 with word of the British attack on Lexington and Concord. Putnam left his plow without so much as pausing to tell his wife and rode overnight to take command of troops who would engage in the first battle of the American Revolutionary War. The narrative of Putnam leaving the plow is one of the subjects of the tympana reliefs on the North façade of the Capitol just up the gentle hill from Ward’s statue of Putnam.

General Putnam is depicted striding forcefully forward. He is dressed as an American Revolutionary War General with his sword tucked under his left arm and a tricorne hat in his right hand. This statue was made for the centenary of the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill at a moment in American history when public statuary was celebrating both the war heroes of the Civil War which ended ten years before and those of the Revolution from a century earlier.

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