August 10, 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 goal is also to encourage completion 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.
Archaeological and Architectural Historians Selected
The interviews were completed on August 3 in time for Historical Commission review and approval on the 5th.
A noted UCONN archaeological team headed by Mary Harper project director for PAST inc. with cartography to be done by Keegan Associates successfully bid the $20,000 contract. Bill Keegan expects to complete the topographical overlays of the entire Connecticut portion of the Rochambeau Route and encampments by November 1998. Mary Harper will complete the archaeological documentation of the encampments from the Rhode Island border through Bolton by July 1999. The town of Lebanon will be included since it was a French encampment for much of 1780-1781 and supplied bread for the French Army when the march began.
The $5,000 architectural contract was successfully bid by Dr. Robert Selig a noted expert on Rochambeau in America. Having written several articles for American Heritage, he has the task of collecting the histories of the structures that were used by the Continental Army and the French troops. Robert Selig lives in Michigan and Coventry Town Historian, Arnold Carlson, has invited him as a guest while he works collecting the information on the structures from Bolton to Plainfield.
Rochambeau’s 5th Encampment In Bolton Is Endangered
Developers from Bloomfield CT and from Boston MA have reportedly expressed an interest in building houses on the Bolton encampment at Valley View Farm. Seventy five new homes have been mentioned as feasible.
The town of Bolton created an Open Space Commission and their number one priority is preserving the Valley View Farm. But that will require state financial support, and the competition for the funds is great. French organizations have been asked to help bring French government attention to the need to stress the importance of preserving Connecticut’s Franco-American sites which have significant historical and environmental importance.
Every Encampment Is A Story In Itself
What happened at the Bolton Encampment that made such an uproar in the Paris newspapers? Why did the French Army bypass the 5th encampment and camp instead at the Hop River in Andover when they returned? Was the hillside in Bolton so uncomfortably steep?
Local history says it was a combination of events. Reverend Colton who owned the 5th encampment was a Puritan. On March 4 1781, General George Washington had lunch with the Colton’s. Later in June of 1781 the French army camped on the Colton farm. Local history reports that the Colton’s wanted to adopt one of the children of an officer who had his family following in one of the camp follower wagons.
The White Tavern at 2 Brandy Road in Bolton is clearly shown on the French maps. The tavern has the original plaster ceiling that shows French bayonet holes. The officers reportedly were boisterous as they partied. Were the Bolton puritans too judgmental for the French officers?
Was the tavern near by in Andover just more fun? That is where General Rochambeau himself stayed. It has a unique original doubly suspended second story floor that can sway to dancers without damaging the downstairs ceilings. Did General Rochambeau ever dance until the floor swayed when he stayed there on both marches?
This historic documentation of the 5th encampment will be timely and an important part or the effort to preserve this encampment as Connecticut open and historic space.