The Society Of the Cincinnati in The State of Connecticut

The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776-1828. Left: Jonathan Trumbull Jr. (1740-1809) - Speaker of the Us House of Representatives. Right: Jonathan Trumbull Sr. (1710-1785) - Governor of Connecticut
The Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775. Right: William Hull (1753-1825) - Lieutenant-Colonel in the Continental Army
The Resignation of General Washington, December 23, 1783. Left: Thomas Y. Seymour (1757-1811) - Lieutenant in the 2nd Continental Regiment of the Dragoons
The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 1777

Capt David Bushnell

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David Bushnell, born on August 30, 1740 at Westbrook, Connecticut, was the son of Nehemiah Bushnell (b. 1710 d. bef 1762) and Sarah (Susan) Ingham (b. 1715/6) who married second David Chapman.


David Bushnell died at Warrenton, Georgia in 1826. Having no heirs, he left considerable property to the children of his deceased brother, Ezra Bushnell (b. 1746 d. bef 1787) of Saybrook. Other siblings of David Bushnell included Sarah (b. 1743); Lydia (b. 1750 d. 1769); and Prudence “Dency” (bpt. 1762 d. 1764).


David Bushnell is not known to have married.




Yale, 1775. He sold his inheritance, a partial interest in a farm, in order to pursue his education.


Engineer, inventor and physician.


David Bushnel was the inventor of the torpedo and “Father of Submarine Warfare”. He spent the year after graduating from Yale developing the “American Turtle”, his machine for blowing up ships.

Captain Lieutenant Sappers and Miners, 2d August, 1779; Captain, 8th June, 1781, and served to 3d June, 1783.

In 1779, he was taken prisoner by the British, but not knowing his value, he was soon exchanged.

Captain David Bushnell was present at Yorktown with the Corps of Sappers and Miners. He was among 12 Yale graduates present.

David Bushnell, under Bounty Land Warrant 141 issued February 2, 1800, received 300 acres of land.


Original Member.


After the war, he moved to France but returned in 1795/6 and stayed for a while at Savannah, Georgia with his friend Abraham Baldwin, Yale 1772. He taught school for a time in Columbia County, Georgia before settling in Warrenton, Georgia where he practiced as a physician under the name of Dr. Bush.

He is described as of slight build and nervous temperament. In Connecticut and Georgia he was known as an unassuming man of exemplary character.

David Bushnell’s friend, Abraham Baldwin, is likely the same Abraham Baldwin from Guilford, Connecticut who served as a Brigade Chaplain. Assigned to the Second Connecticut Brigade in 1781, he served to June 1783. Subsequently, he was a U.S. Senator from Georgia and died at Washington on March 4, 1807.


George Eleazer Bushnell. Bushnell Family Genealogy, Ancestry and Posterity of Francis Bushnell (1580-1646) Nashville: [NP], 1945. pp. 112-113 and 189-190.

Mary A. Bushnell Cheney. Life And Letters of Horace Bushnell. [New ed.] New York: C. Scribner, 1903. p. 573.

Connecticut. Adjutant-General’s Office. Record of Service of Connecticut Men In the I. War of the Revolution, II. War of 1812, III. Mexican War. Hartford: [Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.], 1889. pp. 298 & 373.

Encyclopedia of Connecticut Biography. New York: The American Historical Society, 1919. p. 483.

Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution April, 1775, to December, 1783. Washington, D.C.: The Rare Book Shop Publishing Company, 1914. p. 136.

Royal R. Hinman, A Catalogue of the Names of the Early Puritan Settlers of the Colony of Connecticut: With the Time of Their Arrival In the Country And Colony, Their Standing In Society, Place of Residence, Condition In Life, Where From, Business, &c., As Far As Is Found On Record. Hartford: Case, Tiffany, 1852-1856, p. 447.

Henry Phelps Johnston, Yale And Her Honor-roll In the American Revolution, 1775-1783: Including Original Letters, Records of Service, And Biographical Sketches. New York: Privately printed [by G.P. Putnam’s Sons], 1888. pp. 136 & 308.

Gordon Burns Smith. Morningstars of Liberty: Georgia Continental Officers during the Revolutionary War 1775-1783, vol. 2, Milledgeville, Georgia: Boyd Publishing, 2011. pp. 281-282.

Anson Phelps Stokes. Memorials of Eminent Yale Men, vol. 2, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1914. pp. 95-96.

Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 15. Connecticut. David Bushnell, Bounty Land Warrant 141.

Biographical information provided by V. Allen Gray