Boy Scouts lay down bedrolls where Patriot soldiers slept

The News-Times/Michael Duffy
Boy Scouts march past men acting as Revolutionary War soldiers at Putnam Memorial State Park in Redding yesterday.

By Scott Radway

THE NEWS-TIMES (Sunday, November 7, 1999)

REDDING In 1778, about 1,250 of Gen. Israel Putnam's troops camped on the grounds that would later be named Putnam Memorial State Park.

This weekend, about 325 Boy Scouts relived that chapter of history by pitching camp on the very same ground where continental soldiers once prepared for possible English onslaughts.

As the Scatacook District, which includes 22 Danbury area Boy Scout troops, held their annual fall camporee, so did Boy Scout troops around the nation in honor of the 200th anniversary of George Washington's death. The event was called "A Salute to George Washington."

"We're very fortunate to hold ours on an actual Revolutionary War (camp) site," said the Scouts' Scatacook District Commissioner Carlton Kline. Washington actually ordered Putnam to set up camp there, Kline said.

Yesterday's activities began with a fife and drum march, musket salute and flag raising. Then the Boy Scouts rotated among diverse stations to learn about the soldier's life on those grounds back in 1778.

The stations, which were run by volunteers from regional Revolutionary re-enactment regiments, showed the Scouts such things as how revolutionary campsites were run, the ins-and-outs of muskets, and musket ball-, shoe- and button-making.

But the most popular stop seemed to be the station where the boys learned how to handle a wood and plastic muskets in various formations and how to march in time.

"I've never done this before. It's really neat," said 11-year-old Kevin Deruch after his turn as a rank-and-file soldier. Deruch is a Sandy Hook Troop 370 Boy Scout.

"It will actually help me learn in school, because now I know what they are talking about," said contemplative 12-year-old Brian Duffy.

Duffy, who's only complaint was that he didn't get to fire the muskets, is also a Troop 370 Scout.

Duffy's father, Michael, said the kids were enthralled with the subject. The change from the usual merit badge workshops seemed to excite them as well.

"We're learning things they just can't pick up anywhere else," concluded Troop 370's assistant scout master, Bill Timmel, betraying that maybe the kids weren't the only ones having fun.


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