MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Independence Day is about more than beaches and cookouts. A lot of the struggle for American Independence took place right here in Connecticut, and every year, Milford remembers the sacrifices made.
There was a time when folks in Milford dressed in breeches and tri-corner hats all the time, not just for the 4th of July parade. And back then, they did whatever they could to help win America its independence. For instance, there was the time the British tried to steal cattle from Pond Point.
“The story was that mistress Miles Merwin, who lived in that area, saw them coming,” explained former town historian Richard Platt. “She hitched up a horse and tucked her baby under one arm and rode into town to rouse the militia, and they did. They assembled so quickly that the British withdrew without getting any cattle.”
A monument in the old Milford cemetery marks the most interesting piece of the town’s Revolutionary War history. On New Year’s Day in 1777, a British prison ship going up Long Island Sound stopped in Milford and dumped 200 American prisoners on the shore. The British wanted to get rid of them because some of them had smallpox.
“The townspeople prepared the Town Hall as a temporary hospital,” Platt said.
The hero Captain Stephen Stow led the town’s effort to care for the sick prisoners of war.
“We lost many of them and we also lost many Milford citizens who cared for those patriots while they were ill,” said Veterans Ceremony and Parade Commission President Tom Flowers.
The monument recognizes Stow and the 46 who died that brutal winter. Every July 4th, each veterans service organization in town lays a wreath at the monument in honor of members lost in the past year. It is a way of recognizing that the people of Milford have kept working and sacrificing to keep America free, now for 240 years.