THE CONNECTICUT REVOLUTIONARY ROAD NEWSLETTER-NO. 11

April 11, 1999

Editor: Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian

Purpose

This newsletter is to provide a means for keeping historians, re-enactors, and other interested people aware of the activity to list the Revolutionary Road in the National Register of Historic Places. The Revolutionary Road was the choice of Rochambeau’s French army when they marched from Newport to Yorktown and back to Boston. The goal is also to encourage registration not only the Connecticut portion, but also the Revolutionary Road that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Dr. Jacques Bossière Honored

Dr. Jacques Bossière was one of the first in our partnership to work on the preservation of the Rochambeau Route. A former Professor of Yale, Dr. Bossière headed the Historical Committee of the Connecticut Governor’s Francophone Cultural Commission until 1997 and continues to be active in Souvenir Français.

But most people do not know he is also Reverend Bossière, a bishop of the Anglican Church. Recently he was honored by the Anglican Church for his work in French speaking nations.

Revolutionary Road CT Phase 1 Reviews

Three upcoming events about the Revolutionary Road:

1) Dr. Robert Selig, historian and Revolutionary war expert to speak at Eastern Connecticut State University, Multipurpose Room in the Student Center, on Tuesday, May 4, at 2:00 p.m. Sponsor-ECSU

Title: African-Americans in the Continental Army

On March 5, 1770, Crispus Attucks, a run-away slave, was shot down on the streets of Boston. He is one of the first casualties of a fight for American independence.

During the American Revolutionary War, the hundreds of thousands of Africans and African Americans living in the rebellious colonies represented a huge manpower reservoir. Despite all obstacles, legal and social, that stood in their way to serving in the Continental Army, an estimated 5,000 African-Americans, both slave and free, served between 1775 and 1783. They served as stretcher bearers, cooks, sailors, spies, and, despite all fears of the slave masters concerning arms in the hands of an oppressed people, as soldiers as well.

In July 1781, Baron Closen, an officer in the French Royal Deux-Ponts, estimated the American army to be about one fourth black, about 1,200 men out of less that 5,000 Continentals encamped at White Plains. On the eve of its decisive victory over British general Lord Cornwallis, the Continental Army had reached a degree of integration it would not achieve again for another 200 years.

Among the troops at White Plains was the Rhode Island Regiment, almost all Black, which Closen and many other officers considered the best American unit: “the most neatly dressed, the best under arms, and the most precise in its maneuvers.” Connecticut too had its black unit: in addition to the

hundreds of blacks serving in integrated regiments, that state raised an all-black unit, the 2nd Company, 4th Connecticut Regiment in June 1780. This company, saw action at Yorktown as well, where James Armistead, the slave of William Armistead of New Kent County, Virginia, had been hired by Lord Cornwallis to spy on the Americans. But Lord Cornwallis did not know Armistead was working for Lafayette, and the reports of British activities by this first African-American double agent, were vital for American victory.

Dr. Selig will examine the role of African-Americans as fighting soldiers in the armies of the era, revealing the extend of their involvement in the Continental Army and the importance of the African-American contribution to American Independence.

2) Speech at Lebanon on Wednesday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m. Sponsors: Lebanon Historical Society & CT SAR. Title of Dr. Selig’s lecture at the new museum in Lebanon will be: Adam Gabel, Grenadier, Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts, and the Revolutionary Road

Adam Gabel was the grenadier whose 4-year-old daughter the Rev. George Colton in Bolton wanted to adopt. Dr. Selig will be wearing a grenadier uniform of the Deux-Ponts like the one Gabel wore, and will portray this enlisted man, though it will of course be necessary to step outside that role sometimes. Dr. Selig is currently researching Gabel through friends in Speyer (Germany) in the Church records to try and find out what happened to him after his discharge in December 1783.

Revolutionary Road archaeologist Mary Harper will also discuss the artifacts that have been found and the location of the route.

3)Tuesday May 11, 1999, Connecticut State Capitol, Rochambeau in Connecticut: Tracing his journey with Dr. Robert Selig, historian and Rochambeau expert.

Sponsor: CT State Historical Preservation Office

11:30 First Company Governor Foot Guard fife and drum band, North Portico.

12:00 Lecture by Dr. Selig, Room 310

1:00 Reception and exhibits, Hartford State Armory

The public is welcome at all these events.