THE REVOLUTIONARY ROAD NEWSLETTER NO. 22

November 20, 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, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and raise to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation along the route.

The White Plains Encampments

The area about White Plains probably saw more fighting and suffering than any other area during the Revolution. From 1776, after withdrawal from Long Island, until 1783, when the British finally left, the area was a bloody back and forth battleground. It became a no-man’s land. It is a complex part of the Rochambeau Trail.

After the Battle of White Plains in October 1776, the main American headquarters was at Continental Village, just north of Peekskill. During the Hudson campaign of 1781, General Washington made his headquarters in the Appleby house, which stood on what is known as Washington’s Hill, about three quarters of a mile west of the Odell house where Rochambeau stayed. Washington’s headquarters was a busy place, where the only relaxation was the daily dinner with his officers to which the French officers were often invited. “Blanchard, the French Commissary General described, such a dinner which took place about a week before in the Birdsall House at Peekskill, at which he was a casual guest.

“On the 29th, I got on horseback to see some barracks which had been occupied by an American Regiment during the winter; my purpose was to establish a hospital there. On the road I met General Washington, who was going to review part of his troops. He recognized me, stopped and invited me to dine with him at three o’clock.”

“We dined under the tent. I was placed alongside the general. One of the aides-de-camp did the honors.” The Count De Grasse, was toasted during the evening as was Washington. “The table was served in the American style and pretty abundantly…I arose when I saw General Washington ask for his horses because I desired to have a conversation with him and Mr. Coster (Carter) the purveyor of our army and who had arrived and spoke French well…We all three left the table. The other officers remained. “

“By July 7th the camp had settled down and Rochambeau reviewed the American army, while on the following day Washington received the salute of the French army drawn up in review.”

Blanchard then goes on to further describe preparations in the area by Washington and his men. “‘On the 11th, Washington paid a visit to Lanzun in White Plains. “

Another of Washington’s headquarters during the Revolution was the Elijah Miller house on Virginia Road, North White Plains. Built in 1738. It is a Rhode Island-style farmhouse. Washington is said to have used it as a headquarters in October 1776 and again in 1778. The Miller house has been restored by the Washington’s Headquarters Chapter of the DAR in White Plains. It is open to the public as a museum.

News

Thank you for your letters of support for the state grant to preserve Rochambeau’s 5th Encampment. Several letters were submitted with the application. It is amazing that a few words and stamps can move a $1.2 mil project. Here is one of the best paragraphs I saw. “The Connecticut Society, Sons of the American Revolution, urges you to do whatever you can to preserve the Rose Farm and the American history it embodies. Just as that small farm in your neighborhood once provided shelter for those who fought to make you free, so must you—so must we all—fight to shelter their memory by hallowing that ground.”

Arnold Carlson, a dear friend to many of us, for years the Coventry Town Historian, a charter member of our regional committee… is moving to Brooklyn CT. His letter also went in with the Rose Farm grant application.

The first meeting for the project to create the national trail will be December 16. “America’s National Historic Trails” by Kathleen Cordes lists twenty, 15 under the Nat.Park Service, 4 USForest Service, and 1 BLM.

Re-enactor Humor

A Grenadier walked into a tavern, ordered two pints of Ale and sat by the fire drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finished them, he ordered two more. The inn keeper approached and told him, “You know, ale goes flat when it sits. It would taste better if you bought one at a time.”

The Grenadier replied, “Well, , I have a brother who has gone off to fight Redcoats in the south. When we parted, we vowed that we’d drink this way to remember the days when we drank together. So I drinks one for him and one for me self.”

The Grenadier became a regular in the tavern, and always drank the same way: He ordered two pints and drank them in turn by the fire.

One day, he came in and ordered just one pint and sat in the corner of the room. All the other Continentals took notice and fell silent. When he ordered the next pint, the inn keeper said, “I want to offer my condolences on your great loss.”

The Grenadier looked bewildered for a moment, then a light dawned in his eye and he laughed. “Oh, no. My brother is fine,” He explained, “It’s just that I asked for the hand of the Puritan’s daughter and he made me promise to forsake my drinking ways.”