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On July 5, 1779, 2,600 loyalists and British regulars under General William Tryon, governor of New York, landed in New Haven Harbor and raided the 3,500-person town.A militia of Yale students had been preparing for battle, and former Yale president and Yale Divinity School professor Naphtali Daggett rode out to confront the Redcoats.
Contemporary reports, from both sides, remark on the New Haven volunteers' professional military bearing, including uniforms.Davenport arranged for them to hide in the West Rock hills northwest of the town.Later a third judge, John Dixwell, joined the others.New Haven had the first public tree planting program in America, producing a canopy of mature trees (including some large elms) that gave New Haven the nickname "The Elm City".Before Europeans arrived, the New Haven area was the home of the Quinnipiac tribe of Native Americans, who lived in villages around the harbor and subsisted off local fisheries and the farming of maize.In 1661, the Regicides who had signed the death warrant of Charles I of England were pursued by Charles II.
Two of them, Colonel Edward Whalley and Colonel William Goffe, fled to New Haven for refuge.
For over a century, New Haven citizens had fought in the colonial militia alongside regular British forces, as in the French and Indian War.
As the American Revolution approached, General David Wooster and other influential residents hoped that the conflict with the government in Britain could be resolved short of rebellion.
Yale president Ezra Stiles recounted in his diary that while he moved furniture in anticipation of battle, he still couldn't quite believe the revolution had begun.
New Haven was not torched as the invaders did with Danbury in 1777, or Fairfield and Norwalk a week after the New Haven raid, so many of the town's colonial features were preserved.
It is the second-largest city in Connecticut (after Bridgeport), with a population of 129,779 people as of the 2010 United States Census.