THE CONNECTICUT REVOLUTIONARY ROAD NEWSLETTER-NO. 17

August 25, 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 on the National Register of Historic Places. Rochambeau’s French army defines the Revolutionary Road when they marched from Newport to Yorktown and back to Boston. The goal is to encourage registration of the entire route that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and raise to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation along the route.

Brooklyn CT. Country Fair Special Edition

We will have a Revolutionary Road display at Heritage Hall at the fair, courtesy of the Association of Northeastern Connecticut Historical Societies. The fair begins at noon on Thursday August 26 and ends Sunday evening. We will display information on the French and Continental armies, the 5th encampment, historic events at the site, and several displays of maps.

Recommended book of the Month

I have just obtained the following book, Scott, Samuel F. From Yorktown to Valmy: The Transformation of the French Army in an Age of Revolution_ (University of Colorado Press, 1998). It is an excellent work on the very important theme; following the development of the French army from Rochambeau’s expedition to their ‘Yorktown’ victory in the Revolution with the details – with specifics as to who dies and when. – Durf

Albert “Durf” McJoynt is a military historian, a former U.S. Air Force, NATO liaison with the French military, who is now living in Virginia. He established the first two web sites referenced above.

Bob Selig to Speak in Bridgeport October 4

Michael Chuckta and Bob Berthelson reported that the SAR is sponsoring a talk by Dr. Selig at 7 PM on October 4 at the Bridgeport North End Branch Library on Madison Avenue.

Trail Gathers Momentum with Jim Johnson in N.Y.

Dr. Johnson is the head of the military history program at West Point and is a consultant for the Hudson River Conservancy as the military historian of the Hudson River Valley. He has responsible for the interpretive theme of the American Revolution for the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. One of his major projects is to promote the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution. Another is to develop a series of American Revolutionary Trails. As a part of the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution, he wants to work with us, the NPS, and the other relevant states to organize the trail from RI to VA to interpret the march of Washington’s and Rochambeau’s armies to Yorktown. Perhaps we have reached the point where we should begin involving our federal representatives?

Rochambeau’s 5th Encampment, the Rose Farm

Bolton has ordered two appraisals of the Rose Farm at a cost of about $4000. The results should be in by the end of August and then final negotiations begin. If successful, an application for an open space grant from the state will probably be sought in a town vote. If the grant is approved a town referendum may be needed.

Support of The French Consulate Always Appreciated

I remember when I took my family to France for three years on a business assignment we joined a Franco-American friendship group. Every year between the 4th and 14th of July we would get together at a local chateau where a marquis once lived, and celebrated together. Large fire pits were dug across which metal grates were placed on which chickens and sausages were barbecued. A pig roasted over yet another pit. There would be a piano recital going on and music flowed the whole time from the open windows and laughter and wine flowed outside. We talked in our broken French, they talked to us in broken English, and we had a fantastic time. The American Consulate encouraged this as earlier it had the building of the Allies battle monuments.

On one occasion as we finished eating it began to rain, and we went inside. We Americans sang a number of popular songs and then began to sing our national anthem. As we were finishing, some of the French started quietly singing the Marseillaise. When we finished, the rest of the French joined in, and finally we all joined in as well. We were all transported emotionally as if to a café scene from Casablanca as our voices reverberated though the building.

The continued active support of France encourages our people and legislatures in our national effort to preserve the Rochambeau Route. We need to raise the level of quality of our heritage all along the route. I remember when Colonel Serge Gabriel recently addressed the Connecticut legislature’s appropriations committee, how they all suddenly sat up and listened attentively as he spoke eloquently in his French accent. His participation lent credibility and enthusiasm and helped gain the support we sought. Similarly when the Consul Général of France, Richard Duqué, attended our memorial dedication in Coventry last year, it made all the difference.

Let us remember that the American Revolution had many allies, allies from every major European country, of every continent, and of every race. It was the French who coordinated with the Spanish and Dutch and lead that allied and very diverse army and navy under the French flag to help liberate the US. And just as General Eisenhower allowed General DeGaulle to liberate Paris, General Rochambeau declined the sword of Cornwallis and allowed General Washington claim our liberty at Yorktown. There is no question that we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the French, and it is time that we show our gratitude by honoring their sacrifices by making the entire Rochambeau and Washington route a national monument. Let us also make the surviving campsites, perpetual flowering fields of open space. French officials need to recognize and encourage the preservation of this important heritage, especially to convince our local, state, and federal officials of its importance.