The Harbor in the Wars of Independence

During the Revolutionary War New London harbor was a haven for privateers harassing the British, until revenge took the form of the infamous assault in 1781 led by Benedict Arnold: the burning of New London and the murderous attack on Fort Griswold across the river. And when U.S. naval officer Captain Stephen Decatur sought refuge in New London for his squadron in the War of 1812, the Royal Navy blockaded the harbor until the end of the conflict in 1815.

Below: This famous drawing of New London Harbor marks the arrival of the British fleet for the attack in 1781. The lower part of Winthrop Neck at the top of the harbor would be the location of East New London, the 1876 Central Vermont Railway Pier and the 1916 Connecticut State Pier.

Early harbor map

Once the peace treaty ending the War of 1812 was signed (a war which most New Englanders had opposed), the pent-up commercial and maritime forces were released and the growth of the United States - and New London - shifted into high gear.


Right: The harbor drawing provided the background for a poster announcing the 15th anniversary exhibition of the McGuire Library. Winthrop Neck is just above the "n" in "Fifteen."