Horse Guard State Park is a state park in the town of East Lyme, Connecticut. The park preserves a portion of the original course used by the British Army’s famed “Hobart’s Heroes” during the American Revolutionary War. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Horse Guards Road Military Reservation.
Parking fees are in effect from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. The park is located off Connecticut Route 272, five minutes east of the intersection of Routes 272 & 54. The park entrance is via CT 272, just west of the intersection of Routes 272 & 54. Entrance sign showing direction of Horse Guards Road. View looking south showing parking lot, campground, and lake. Camping loop with view of Bear Mountain. Picnic area overlooking Lake Lubbers. Hiking trail ascends Bear Mountain. Footpath leads to summit of Mt. Blue. Summit of Mt. Blue overlooks campground, picnic area, and lake. Path descends opposite side of peak. Path continues down slope to intersect with yellow trail.
Yellow trail climbs steeply to meet red trail at peak of Bald Mountain. Red trail loops around base of Peak Mountain. Base of Peak Mountain shows campsite, picnic area, and footpath descending to meeting point with yellow trail. Yellow trail descends to meet green trail below Meeting House Hill. Green trail loops around back of Meetinghouse Hill. Green Trail meets blue trail at bottom of hill. Bottom of hill shows footpath continuing straight ahead to meet pink trail. Pink trail climbs steeply to meet brown trail. Brown trail loops around top of Pine Mountain.
Top of Pine Mountain shows footpath climbing steeply to meet purple trail. Purple trail descends to meet orange trail. Orange trail loops around lower right corner of Peak Mountain. Lower right corner of Peak Mountain shows footpath continuing down slope to meet red trail. Red trail loops around upper left corner of Peak Mountain. Upper left corner of Peak Mountain shows footpath continuing down slope to meet yellow trail. Yellow trail descends to meet green trail. Green trail loops around back of Meetinghouse Hill. Green Trail meets blue trail at bottom of hill.
Between 1778 and 1781, units from Fort Trumbull were stationed along what became known as the Horse Guards Road to protect New London, Connecticut, and the Thames River Valley. This road was also called the Kennebec Path after an early route taken by soldiers traveling between Quebec and Boston. In modern times, it forms part of the alignment for Interstate 95. At its northern end near present-day Danbury, Connecticut, the path split into two branches, with one taking troops past Mount Saint Vincent toward Brooklyn, New York, and the other leading to Fort Trumbull.
From late May until mid-September, there were daily attacks by Native Americans on farms and settlements. To counter this threat, 1,200 men under Generals John Burgoyne and Benedict Arnold raided and burned towns across southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and eastern Connecticut, culminating in the Battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19.
During this time, detachments of Continental Army soldiers were garrisoned at various locations along the Horse Guards Road, including posts named after districts in Pennsylvania. These included Stony Brook (Area 5), Shippensburg (Area 6), Pootatuck (Area 7), Preston (Area 8), and Stanton (Area 9).
After the battles, Arnold withdrew his force through Sunken Meadow Swamp rather than risk being trapped in the more heavily populated areas to the north. However, many of these soldiers chose to make their homes in the area, contributing to the establishment of what would become known as the “Danbury Republic,” which lasted from about 1776 until 1783 when the last of the soldiers had left. Notable members included Colonel William Ledyard, Major Timothy Dwight, Captain Levi Hart, and Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, who later led forces against the Shawnee in the Northwest Territory. On July 26, 1777, a company of 150 men under command of Ensign Daniel Whitney were sent from Fort Trumbull up the Mystic River towards New London. They met with success in capturing several strong points, including Fort Griswold, which surrendered without a fight. A week later another 200 men under Lieutenants Stephen Morgan and Edwin Vose went out on patrol, returning safely after a nine day absence.
On August 12, 1777, a third detachment of 100 men again set out, this time commanded by First Sergeant James Burd. He successfully took Fort Strong but lost half his force to dysentery. Another sickness then swept through the camp, killing 30 men. Only 75 soldiers remained, less than half the number required for combat duty. With winter approaching, the remaining men were not fit for service, so they either returned home or were sold at auction. Those that stayed behind were assigned to building duties such as sawmills and gristmills, which provided employment for the able-bodied men while they waited for further orders. When spring came, nearly all had been reassigned, although some were employed seasonally as hunters to provide meat for the table. Thus ended the first year of the war; only 60 men had actually fought.
The next year proved even worse, due to poor weather conditions and continued Indian raids. An attempt to send out a larger force in 1779 failed when most of the available men were needed at home to harvest corn. As a result, very little fighting took place, and the war soon ended with no major conflicts. Nevertheless, the army had made a significant contribution to the cause of independence. Historians have noted that if General George Washington had committed fewer resources to the effort, the outcome might well have been different. Instead, he encouraged the militia to take the offensive, and the strategic initiative shifted away from the British Isles to the frontier. There are eight miles (13km) of marked hiking trails within the park, which features scenic vistas atop Mt. Blue and Bear Mountain, and historic sites related to the American Revolution.
The park has facilities for:
- mountain biking
- horseback riding
- cross country skiing