The Groton Battle Monument commemorates the Battle of Groton Heights, fought during the Revolutionary War on September 6, 1781. The battle was a result of the British raid on New London, led by Benedict Arnold. Fort Trumbull, on the New London side of the harbor, and Fort Griswold, built on the heights on the Groton side, were built to protect the strategic port of New London. Arnold had information from an American turncoat which enabled the British to avoid the fire from Fort Griswold‘s guns and surprise the Americans. The British forces then burned New London and, after a fierce battle, in which 150 rapidly assembled American defenders faced a British force of 800, Fort Griswold was captured. The American commander, Col. William Ledyard, is said to have been killed by his own sword after surrendering to the British. According to American sources, a massacre of the Americans followed the surrender, although British sources mention neither the death of Col. Ledyard or a massacre.
Today, the remains of Fort Griswold are part of a Connecticut State Park. Also on the park grounds are the Monument House Museum and the Groton Battle Monument. The Monument is a granite obelisk, constructed between 1826 and 1830. It is the oldest monument of its kind in America, preceding the Bunker Hill Monument and the Washington Monument. The Groton Monument has a marble plaque listing the names of those who fell defending Fort Griswold. In 1881, the centennial anniversary year of the battle, the top of the monument was enclosed and its height raised to 134 feet. Visitors to Fort Griswold can climb the tower and reenactments of the battle are also held at the Park.