In May of 1754, war broke out between Great Britain and France.  The earliest hostilities in what would ultimately become a global conflict were in North American and included colonist from each country as well as several tribes of Native Americans.  While major battles of this war, often called the French and Indian War in the US, took place near the eastern coast of North America, the colony of Connecticut never found itself to be part of any major battles.  The threat that this could happen, however, encouraged hundreds of Connecticut men enlisted, and many of the colony’s towns to fear that they would become battlegrounds. Which is why a very ugly statue of a frog, with big gold eyes and creepy webbed feet exists in Windham, Connecticut.  There are four such frogs positioned on the corners of something called “Frog Bridge” which, today, is a conventional highway bridge.

In June of 1754, the war was top of mind for the thousand or so people then living in Windham.  One morning, though, the war came to Windham, or so it seemed. “The residents of the town of Windham woke to a hideous sound, a shrieking, clattering roar. The frightened townspeople jumped from their beds. Some thought the horrifying sounds were the war-whoops of attacking Indians. Some thought they were the trumpets of Judgment Day. Others thought they were Native Americans saying ‘gin’ and ‘rum.’” The townspeople were convinced that they were under attack. The town militia snapped into action, with the members firing into the darkness. And it seemed to work — the shrieking stopped.  The next morning, the townspeople set out to search for the attackers — and found dead bodies everywhere. Not Native Americans nor French soldier.  They found hundreds of dead frogs.

The spring and early summer of 1754 were unusually warm and dry.  For the frogs of Windham, that was a problem.  A long-standing drought had reduced the standing water to a single small pond and every frog for miles around had descended on that pond in a desperate search for water. The jostling and battling of these frogs, and their struggle to gain access to the area’s only remaining water, had been the source of the previous night’s unearthly din. In the aftermath of the night’s melee, hundreds of bullfrog corpses littered the landscape. The town wasn’t under attack, just their millpond and the frogs were the obvious casualties.

At first, the people of Windham were embarrassed by their assumption that they were under attack, but later, they took ownership of their mistake and turned it into a point of pride. The town has adopted the frog as its mascot and made the Battle of the Frogs a central point in the town’s history and pride. Even the town’s official seal features an image of a frog.

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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