Wolcott, Erastus

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Wolcott, Erastus

WOLCOTT, ERASTUS. (1722–1793). Militia general and judge. Connecticut. Elder brother of Oliver Wolcott, Erastus rose to prominence in his family's ancestral home town of Windsor (East Windsor after 1768), Connecticut, and was first elected to the General Assembly in 1758. The Assembly named him to its nine-member Committee of Correspondence in May 1773, and chose him as a delegate to the first Continental Congress in September 1774, but then and later he declined to serve politically outside Connecticut. In late April 1775, the Assembly sent him, along with the pro-British William Samuel Johnson, to confer with General Gage in Boston about a cessation of hostilities, but they achieved nothing of note. He was elected Assembly speaker in May 1776.

Wolcott led Connecticut troops in the field on several occasions. Colonel of his local militia regiment from October 1774, he led a reinforcement of militia to Boston early in January 1776 to help General George Washington hold the lines while the Continental Army of 1776 was recruited. As colonel of a regiment of state troops, he commanded the New London forts during the summer of 1776. Named brigadier general of the first brigade of the reorganized Connecticut militia in December 1776, he acted principally to draft and equip men to reinforce state and continental forces, but commanded a militia detachment on the Hudson River from April to June 1777. An occasional member of the state's Council of Safety, he resigned his militia rank in January 1781 in protest over Governor Jonathan Trumbull's direction of the war effort. After the war he became a judge of the Connecticut supreme court.

SEE ALSO Trumbull, John.

                              revised by Harold E. Selesky