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Israel Putnam was a brave soldier. He fought many battles against the Indians. After that he became a general in the Revolution. But this is a story of his battle with a wolf. It took place when he was a young man, before he was a soldier.

Putnam lived in Connecticut. In the woods, there were still a few wolves. One old wolf came to Putnam's neighborhood every winter. She always brought a family of young wolves with her.

The hunters would always kill the young wolves. But they could not find the old mother wolf. She knew how to keep out of the way.

The farmers tried to catch her in their traps. But she was too cunning. She had had one good lesson when she was young. She had put the toes of one foot into a steel trap. The trap had snipped them off. After that she was more careful.

One winter night she went out to get some meat. She came to Putnam's flock of sheep and goats. She killed some of them. She found it great fun.

There were no dogs about. The poor sheep had nobody to protect them. So the old wolf kept on killing. One sheep was enough for her supper. But she killed the rest just for sport. She killed seventy sheep and goats that night.

Putnam and his friends set out to find the old sheep killer. There were six men of them. They agreed that two of them should hunt for her at a time. Then another two should begin as soon as the first two should stop. So she would be hunted day and night.

The hunters found her track in the snow. There could be no mistake about it. The track made by one of her feet was shorter than those made by the other feet. That was because one of her feet had been caught in a trap.

The hunters found that the old wolf had gone a long way off. Perhaps she felt guilty. She must have thought that she would be hunted. She had trotted away for a whole night.

Then she turned and went back again. She was getting hungry by this time. She wanted some more sheep.

The men followed her tracks back again. The dogs drove her into a hole. It was not far from Putnam's house.

All the farmers came to help catch her. They sent the dogs into the cave where the wolf was. But the wolf bit the dogs, and drove them out again.

Then the men put a pile of straw in the mouth of the cave. They set the straw on fire. It filled the cave with smoke. But Mrs. Wolf did not come out.

Then they burned brimstone in the cave. It must have made the wolf sneeze. But the cave was deep. She went as far in as she could, and stayed there. She thought that the smell of brimstone was not so bad as the dogs and men who wanted to kill her.

Putnam wanted to send his worker into the cave to drive out the wolf. But the worker thought that he would rather stay out.

Then Putnam said that he would go in himself. He tied a rope to his legs. Then he got some pieces of birchbark. He set fire to these. He knew that wild animals do not like to face a fire.

He got down on his hands and knees. He held the blazing bark in his hand. He crawled through the small hole into the cave. There was not room for him to stand up.

At first the cave went downward into the ground. Then it was level a little way. Then it went upward. At the very back of this part of the cave was the wolf. Putnam crawled up until he could see the wolf's eyes.

When the wolf saw the fire, she gave a sudden growl. Putnam jerked the rope that was tied to his leg. The men outside thought that the wolf had caught him. They pulled on the other end of the rope.

The men pulled as fast as they could. When they had drawn Putnam out, his clothes were torn. He was badly scratched by the rocks.

He now got his gun. He held it in one hand. He held the burning birchbark in the other. He crawled into the cave again.

When the wolf saw him coming again, she was very angry. She snapped her teeth. She got ready to spring on him. She meant to kill him as she had killed his sheep. Putnam fired at her head. As soon as his gun went off, he jerked the rope. His friends pulled him out.

He waited awhile for the smoke of his gun to clear up. Then he went in once more. He wanted to see if the wolf was dead.

He found her lying down. He tapped her nose with his birchbark. She did not move. He took hold of her. Then he jerked the rope.

This time the men saw him come out, bringing the dead wolf. Now the sheep would have some peace.


Study the lesson for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the story multiple times.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Study the vocabulary words.
  • Learn the concepts.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Study the review questions.


People in Connecticut had a problem. Wolves were killing their sheep. Hunters caught many wolves and killed them, but one old wolf evaded capture. That wolf loved to kill, slaughtering seventy sheep and goats in one night. Israel Putman and his friends hunted the wolf. They tracked the wolf to a dark cave. They sent dogs into the cave, but the wolf bit the dogs and drove them out. The men started a fire and burned brimstone in the cave, but the smoke and smell did not drive the wolf out. Israel Putnam crawled into the cave and shot the wolf dead. Now the sheep would have some peace.


Hunter: A person or animal who pursues and kills other animals.
Trap: A device designed to catch and retain animals.
Track: A mark left by a person, animal, or vehicle in movement.
Brimstone: A yellow-green solid with a pungent rotten egg odor. Also known as sulfur.
Birchbark: The bark of the North American paper birch, used by the American Indians to make canoes and containers.


Facts about caves:

  1. A cave is a large, underground chamber.
  2. Caves often form in hillsides or cliffs.
  3. Caves form when rock breaks down due to weathering.
  4. The cave with the most explored passages in the world is Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. It has 405 miles of passages.


Activity 1: Narrate the Story

  • After reading or listening to the story, narrate the story events aloud using your own words.

Activity 2: Act Out the Story

  • Create a cave with items such as tables, chairs, and blankets.
  • Have one person go in the cave to play the role of the wolf.
  • Have another person play the role of Israel Putnam. Enter the cave and bring the wolf out.

Activity 3: Color the Story   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete page 19 of 'History Coloring Pages for First Grade.'

Activity 4: Map the Story

  • The tale takes place in the state of Connecticut. Zoom in to find Connecticut (CT) in the map below.

Activity 5: Study the Story Picture

  • In the story, Israel Putnam went inside a cave after a wolf.
  • See below the very cave Israel Putnam went inside. Imagine crawling inside the dark, deep cave, where a wolf waits to bite you.
  • Would you have gone inside the cave after the wolf?


Question 1

What happened to the sheep in Connecticut?
1 / 4

Answer 1

An old mother wolf slaughtered the sheep.
1 / 4

Question 2

What did Israel Putnam and his friends track?
2 / 4

Answer 2

Israel Putnam and his friends tracked the wolf that was slaughtering the sheep.
2 / 4

Question 3

Where did they find the old wolf?
3 / 4

Answer 3

Israel Putnam and his friends found the wolf in a cave.
3 / 4

Question 4

How was Israel Putnam brave?
4 / 4

Answer 4

Israel Putnam went inside the cave after the wolf. He killed the wolf and brought its body back out.
4 / 4

  1. What happened to the sheep in Connecticut? An old mother wolf slaughtered the sheep.
  2. What did Israel Putnam and his friends track? Israel Putnam and his friends tracked the wolf that was slaughtering the sheep.
  3. Where did they find the old wolf? Israel Putnam and his friends found the wolf in a cave.
  4. How was Israel Putnam brave? Israel Putnam went inside the cave after the wolf. He killed the wolf and brought its body back out.