The Battle of the Frogs

The time was 1754. About a thousand settlers inhabited the village of Windham on the Connecticut frontier. The local people lived in constant fear of the French and the Indians. Colonel Eliphalet Dyer had been recruiting men from the village to form a regiment to fight them. Rumors of massacre and bloodshed were constantly being spread.

Windham village was elevated from the surrounding countryside, with Mullin Hill east of the green as its highest point. Looking north from the top of the Hill, the ground sloped gradually downward toward a small body of water which, from the time of the first settlement, had been called the “Frog Pond.” In this fateful place, it all happened.

The light of day brought the scare to an end. What remained in the valley below Mullin Hill were thousands of frog corpses, lying all around on the banks of the Frog Pond. Villagers speculated that the frogs had fallen to distemper, or that the fear of low water had caused them to panic. Mr. Follet, who operated a mill using the pond run-off, doubted the latter explanation, saying that the water was no lower than ordinary. In fact, no one knew what killed the frogs.

Even though newspapers were scarce at the time, word spread quickly of this extraordinary event, rendering the inhabitants of Windham the object of many a joke. In later years, the tale gained even more notoriety in story and song, when local newspaperman N.W. Leavitt wrote words, and his son Burton Leavitt composed music, for an operetta entitled, “The Frogs of Windham.”

Today, the pond where Windham’s early settlers battled the frogs is somewhat larger, about six acres, owing to the water level having been raised by a higher dam. It is located about a mile east of the old village, now called Windham Center, on the road toward Scotland, Connecticut. This modern road, State Route 14, was designated a Scenic Highway in 1999. The pond is located on the north side of the road, and is identified by a bronze plaque set into a granite boulder. This monument, dedicated on Constitution Day, 24 September 1924, marks the spot where the frog fight occurred in old Windham village.