A little known chapter of local history is celebrated by local author and historian Edward Wittkofski in a display currently mounted at Plumb Memorial Library.
Wittkofski collected and reproduced articles and photos describing war games that occurred in southwest Connecticut, planned as a publicity event to raise the visibility of the Army and serve as training for local militia that would supply soldiers when the U.S. entered World War I.
From Aug. 10 to 19 in 1912 two armies of 10,000 men each gathered to simulate an attack through Boston to the New York water supply of Croton Dam. The culminating battle took place in Newtown with the Red Army attacking straight up the hill of Route 34 at Great Ring farm which the umpires called a victory for the Red Army. They were unaware that the Blue Army had successfully repulsed the Reds to the north. In the end, the Battle of Newtown was declared a draw and New York had been “saved.”
A feature of the display is a panoramic photo of the encampment of the Red Army on Clark Beardsley’s farm in upper White Hills, looking across Barn Hill to the Blue Army on Israel Hill’s Jones Farm. The photo is on loan from the Beardsley family. Farmland pasture in Paradise Green in Stratford served as the airfield for the Blue Army. Skirmishes occurred in Oxford and Redding as well as the Walnut Tree Hill section of Shelton’s White Hills.
New technology showcased included the first official use of aircraft on U.S. Army maneuvers; photographs from planes; airplane squadrons used for spotting opposing troop positions; wireless telegraph and machine guns.
Edward Wittkofski of Shelton is a historian and author of the recently published On the Camino Trail, a history of northern Spain that includes a discussion of its historical significance. He is a re-enactor of both Revolutionary and Civil War and Department Commander of the Sons of Union Veterans.
The display can be viewed on the main floor Ramp Gallery at Plumb Memorial Library, 65 Wooster Street, during regular library hours, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.