July 4, 1998
Editor: Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian
This newsletter is to provide a means for keeping historians, re-enactors, and other interested people aware of the activity in Connecticut to list the Revolutionary Road in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Revolutionary Road stretches across Connecticut from Plainfield to Ridgebury. It was used by the American Continental Army to deploy troops in at least five military engagements, including the successful battle to drive the Red Coats out of Rhode Island. That victory made it possible for the French to land an army at Newport, Rhode Island to join us in our fight for American independence. The types of wooden sailing vessels that brought the French Army required each horse have the space of fourteen French soldiers. Therefore in order to transport Rochambeau’s 5000 troops, the French had to leave their horses behind. It took a full year for them to purchase the necessary horses and forage in America. During that time George Washington waited anxiously as our Continental Army dwindled to under 3000 troops and America tottered on the brink of bankruptcy and defeat.
When General Rochambeau’s French Army transported their field artillery through Connecticut and on to Yorktown, not many people were aware that the hardships of the war and small pox were taking their toll. Seven of Rochambeau’s men died in Coventry during the march. There were French and American graves all along the route.
Rochambeau joined forces with General Washington while a decisive intervention of the French navy, under Admiral de Grasse drove the British Navy from Chesapeake Bay and trapped the Red Coats at Yorktown, Virginia. Additional French troops were landed near Yorktown to help lay siege to the British enclave. As the fall harvest was completed and the news of the march of our French allies spread, the American Army swelled to almost 9000.
Fifteen Red Coats were to perish for every one American soldier before the British surrendered in that final battle at Yorktown, ending the American Revolutionary War. The French casualties at Yorktown were 50% greater than those of the Americans. The French documents show that more than 2000 French foot soldiers gave their lives in the fight for American liberty and if sailors and other support are included, over 4000 of the French perished at our side.
Thank You State Representative Pamela Sawyer
In October 1995, the Inter Community Historic Resources Committee made as its goal the listing of the Revolutionary Road in the National Register of Historic Places. We asked State Representative Pamela Sawyer to introduce state legislation to provide the funds to list the Revolutionary Road in the National Register of Historic Places. After three years and twenty six co-signers, $30,000 was allocated. Thank you Representative Pamela Sawyer for supporting projects which enhance American values and preservation based tourism.
Requests For Proposals Are Issued
On July 1, the Inter Community Historic Resources Committee met with the Connecticut State Historical Preservation Commission to discuss the plan for historical and archaeological documentation of the French army encampments along the Revolutionary Road. $5000 will go towards documenting historic structures throughout Connecticut that can be directly associated with the Rochambeau march. The goal is to have the entire route entered on the computerized DEP topographical maps by December 1998. The remainder of $25000 will then go towards the archaeological documentation of the campsites from the Rhode Island border through Bolton plus the endangered campsite at Breakneck.
Legal notices went out the July 4 weekend. It is hoped that the historian and archaeologist will be selected in early August.
The Coventry Ancient Fifes and Drums and other groups attended a crucial affair at the state Legislative Office Building in April and the Coventry monument dedication on May 2. These activities bring to life and animate the resources we seek to preserve. The preservation of heritage goes hand in hand with the preservation of the environment and the American passion for liberty. The continued support of the re-enactors is vital to having the entire route to Yorktown listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Please pass this copy on to friends.