Tuesday, February 23, 2021

The Great Frog Migration at Windham Connecticut, 1758

Great Moments in Herpetological History – The Great Frog Migration at Windham Connecticut, 1758

Verbatim text from pp.126–128: A General History of Connecticut, From Its First Settlement Under George Fenwick, To Its Latest Period Of Amity With Great Britain Prior To The Revolution; Including A Description Of The Country, And Many Curious And Interesting Anecdotes. By A Gentleman Of The Province. London, 1781. To Which Is Added A Supplement, Verifying Important Statements Made By The Author. Illustrated With Eight Engravings. Republished by D. Clark and Co., New Haven, Connecticut. 1829. 

Strangers are very much terrified at the hideous noise made on summer evenings by the vast number of frogs in the brooks and ponds. There are about thirty different voices among them; some of which resemble the bellowing of a bull. The owls and whippoorwills complete the rough concert, which may be heard several miles. Persons accustomed to such serenades are not disturbed by them at their proper stations; but one night, in July, 1758, the frogs of an artificial pond, three miles square, and about five from Windham, finding the water dried up, left the place in a body, and marched, or rather hopped, towards Winnomantic river. They were under the necessity of taking the road and going through the. town, which they entered about midnight. The bull frogs were the leaders, and the pipers followed without number. They filled a road 40 yards wide for four miles in length, and were for several hours in passing through the town, unusually clamorous. The inhabitants were equally perplexed and frightened: some expected to find an army of French and Indians; others feared an earthquake, and dissolution of nature. The consternation was universal. Old and young, male and female, fled naked from their beds with worse shrieking than those of the frogs. The event was fatal to several women. The men, after a flight of half a mile, in which they met with many broken shins, finding no enemies in pursuit of them, made a halt, and summoned resolution enough to venture back to their wives and children; when they distinctly heard from the enemy's camp these words, Wight, Hilderke, Dier, Tete. This last they thought meant treaty; and plucking up courage, they sent a triumvirate to capitulate with the supposed French and Indians. These three men approached in their shirts, and begged to speak with the General; but it being dark, and no answer given, they were sorely agitated for some time betwixt hope and fear; at length, however, they discovered that the dreaded inimical army was an army of thirsty frogs, going to the river for a little water. Such an incursion was never known before nor since; and yet the people of Windham have been ridiculed for their timidity on this occasion. I verily believe an army under the Duke of Marlborough, would, under like circumstances, have acted no better than they did.

Contributed by C. Kenneth Dodd

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