Silliman home in Fairfield in the 1890s
Silliman home in fairfield in the 1890s

Militia general Born in Fairfield, Connecticut, 1732. Silliman graduated from Yale and practiced law and served as a crown attorney before the Revolution.


He was the commander of a local body of militia cavalry and took rank as a militia brigadier general after 1776. He was mostly concerned with patrolling the southwestern border of Connecticut, where the loyalists of Westchester County, New York spilled over and caused constant irritation and concern for patriot towns and farms.

He also fought with the main army during the New York campaigns of 1776 and opposed the British raid on Danbury in 1777. At the beginning of Tryon’s raid on Danbury, the general was at his home in Fairfield. As soon as he heard word of the British landing on the coast, he sent out expresses to alarm the nearby towns and to collect the militia. By Noon the next day he arrived in Redding with five hundred men and was joined by Generals Arnold and Wooster.

On a dark night in May 1779, nine tories crossed the sound in a whale boat from Lloyd’s Neck. One of them had been employed by Silliman as a carpenter, so he knew the house well. Eight of the men forced their way into the house at midnight and took the general and his son. they were taken to Oyster Bay and finally to Flatbush to be exchanged a year later.

The Americans didn’t have a prisoner of equal rank to exchange, so they captured one. The victim was the Honorable Thomas Jones, a highly reputed loyalist. Jones was captured in November 1779 and brought back to Connecticut. Silliman and Jone were exchanged in May 1780, with the general’s son being exchanged as well.

Lossing, Pictorial Field-Book of The Revolution, New York, 1860

Who Was Who in the American Revolution, 1993