Anna Warner Bailey

Anna Warner Bailey (1758-1851) was born in Groton and grew up in the home of her aunt and uncle after her parents died. She retrieved her mortally wounded uncle after the British attack on Fort Griswold in 1781, an event that gave her a lifelong hatred of the British. Married in 1783, she and her husband Elijah Bailey began to operate a tavern on Groton Bank, below Fort Griswold, around 1800. Reportedly, in the rush to arm Fort Griswold after Captain Stephen Decatur’s ships arrived in the Thames River at the beginning of June 1813, Anna Bailey prominently offered up her flannel petticoats for cannon wadding. She immediately became a local celebrity who would launch into the lively tune “Jefferson and Liberty” for visitors. As a symbol of patriotic sacrifice, she was later visited by President James Monroe in 1817, Lafayette in 1824, and Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren in 1833.



Francis Manwaring Caulkins

Frances Manwaring Caulkins (1795-1869) could trace her lineage in New London back to 1651. Her father died during a voyage to the West Indies shortly after her birth, and her mother soon remarried. Frances was educated in Norwich but often spent time at her Uncle Christopher Manwaring’s home in New London, from where she saw the British blockaders in 1813-14. Having had some experience teaching, she established a school for young women at Norwichtown in 1820. She moved to New London’s Female Academy in 1828 and later returned to Norwich before leaving teaching in 1834 and moving to New York for seven years. In 1842 she settled permanently in New London and began to write fulltime while engaging in religious and philanthropic work. Earlier, in 1828, she had made a trip to Stonington to interview eyewitnesses of the Battle of Stonington and record their remarks. Her best-known works, History of Norwich, Connecticut (1845) and History of New London, Connecticut (1852), are thoroughly researched and well written. (PHOTO: Frances Manwaring Caulkins, ca. 1861, New London County Historical Society, Giles Bishop Album 779 N461 66B)


Robert Fulton

Robert Fulton (1765-1815) was born in Pennsylvania and trained as an artist before going to England in 1786. There he invented equipment for the expanding canal system and began developing concepts for steam-powered vessels, a submarine, and “torpedoes” (undersea mines) for the defense of England, as well as for Napoleon, during the Napoleonic Wars. Fulton returned to the US in 1806 and with his patron, Robert Livingston, launched the first practical steamboat, the North River Steamboat or Clermont, which went into operation on the Hudson River in 1807. That year he also demonstrated a successful torpedo. When the War of 1812 began, Fulton was conducting experiments in firing cannons underwater. He also inspired, or helped produce, some of the torpedoes and submersible vessels used off New London during the war. With the endorsement of Captains Decatur, Jones, and Biddle at New London, he was authorized to build the steam-powered floating battery Demologos, the first naval steamship, which was begun in 1814 and commissioned after Fulton’s death in February 1815.


Samuel Green (1768-1859) was born in New London, the fourth generation of Connecticut’s most prominent family of printers. His father, Timothy Green, was editor of the New London Gazette, and Samuel took over the paper when his father died in 1796. Samuel published the Gazette (which he renamed Connecticut Gazette) until he leased it to others in 1805, then resumed publication in 1808. During the War of 1812 Green maintained a Federalist position while reporting war news and documenting local actions during the British blockade. When New London was threatened with invasion after Captain Decatur’s arrival in June 1813, Green switched from weekly to twice-weekly publication for a month. When the British attacked Stonington in August 1814 as the Gazette was going to press, Green stopped the press to include the most recent news in the August 10 issue. Samuel Green continued to publish the Gazette until 1838, when he moved to Hartford.


Simeon North (1765-1852) was born in Kensington (now Berlin). He had manufactured little but farm implements before he obtained a contract with his brother-in-law, clockmaker Elisha Cheney, in 1799 to produce 500 horse pistols for the US Army. He modeled his efficient brass and iron flintlock on a 1777 French model. A second contract for 1,500 horse pistols was followed in 1808 with a contract for 2,000 boarding pistols for the navy, followed by contracts for 1,000 more and 2,000 more horse pistols. Although Eli Whitney has long been credited as the first to create interchangeable parts while manufacturing his muskets, it was many years before he successfully mastered the method he espoused. More than Whitney, it was Simeon North who refined and applied efficient methods of production that led to interchangeability. In 1813 he would accept a contract for 20,000 pistols that called for almost perfect interchangeability of parts. To produce these arms on a truly industrial scale, he would move his factory to Middletown


Nathan Starr (1755-1821) was born in Middletown and worked as a sythe-maker before serving as an armorer during the Revolutionary War. Starr received a contract for 2,000 cavalry sabers, scabbards, and belts in 1798, which made him the nation’s first sword manufacturer since the Revolution. He also produced several thousand naval cutlasses in 1799 and 1808, between additional federal and state contracts for sabers. He and his son remained the leading manufacturers of American swords until 1830.


Elizabeth Coles Stewart (ca. 1778-ca. 1840) was born in England, the daughter of merchant John Coles. She moved with her family from England to Boston to New London, where they settled in 1794. She married British merchant James Stewart in 1798, and they took over her father’s estate in New London when his business failed in 1810. Her husband was appointed British vice consul in 1811. As wife of the vice consul, she entertained British visitors, captains, and merchants in New London. When James Stewart was expelled from New London in July 1813, she remained, giving birth to their fifth child that fall. It has been suggested that she engaged in espionage for the British blockading squadron, though there is no clear evidence of that activity. When James Stewart returned to New London waters in the summer of 1814, the British demanded that she be sent out to join him. Captain Thomas Hardy made the same demand during the Battle of Stonington. The State Department permitted her release, and she resided on Plum Island until the end of the war, even after her husband was kidnapped there by Mystic privateersmen in September 1814. The Stewarts were reunited early in 1815 and returned to their home in New London, where James again served as vice consul until 1832. The Stewarts then went to England, where they died.


Eli Whitney by Samuel Finley Breese Morse, 1822

Eli Whitney (1765-1825) was born in Westborough, Massachusetts, and graduated from Yale College in 1792. After spending time in Georgia, where he invented the cotton gin and patented it in 1794, Whitney settled in New Haven. Losing money to legal wrangling about his cotton gin, Whitney hoped to recoup his fortune by obtaining a government contract to manufacture more than 10,000 muskets for delivery in 1800. He received a large advance payment in 1798 and built an armory in New Haven, but manufacturing problems—Whitney had no experience in gunsmithing—delayed delivery of the final batch of muskets until 1809. With his armory finally well organized, Whitney also produced 4,000 muskets for the New York and Connecticut militias and received a federal contract for 15,000 muskets in 1812. By the time he died in 1825, his armory had produced 38,000 muskets and Whitney had approached, but not fully achieved his aim of full interchangeability of parts.