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Located on Fisher's Island Sound near the Mystic and Thames rivers, Groton used to be the dominion of the Pequot Indian tribe. Dutch explorer Adrian Block was the first to survey the area. The Pequots were driven from the area when John Mason led an offensive against the fort they had there. Groton was originally a part of the incorporated commune of New London, which lay across the Thames river. Groton was incorporated as a separate commune in 1705, when it had grown large enough to sustain itself.
Groton was intially a farming community, but soon spread out into the naval construction industry, building boats and trading with nearby cities. The city was the site of a major battle during the Revolutionary War, when the infamous Benedict Arnold led British forces in a slaughter of over American forces stationed at Fort Griswold.
In1868 a naval yard was built on the Thames river. During World War I it was commissioned as a submarine base, and in World War II Groton became the submarine capital of the world when 75 submarines were stationed there. Groton was also the site for the launching of the first nuclear powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, in 1954.