January 24, 2000
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 to create a national historic trail, the WRRR. Rochambeau’s French army defined the route when they marched from Newport to Yorktown and back to Boston. The goal is to encourage creation of a National Historic Trail with the registration of the entire route that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, and to raise to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation all along the route.
Victory at Stony Point on the Hudson
British General Clinton, seeking to draw Washington out, captured Stony Point and Verplanck’s point on June 1, 1779, depriving Washington of his best Hudson River crossing. But Washington stayed at New Windsor just below West Point waiting for the right moment.
Then one afternoon a dusty coach drew up, the carriage door opened and excitement ran through the ranks as they recognized mad Anthony Wayne. He reviewed the infantry selecting 1200 of them and gave them secret orders to report for duty in an hour. Wayne would storm hell if that were Washington’s plan. But Washington took Wayne to a rocky outcropping to view the site he had in mind.
Five days later on July 15, five minutes before midnight, three American columns moved out. They approached Stony Point in silence armed only with their cold steel bayonets. The great black rock and stony fortress loomed up into the starless sky. Suddenly they were discovered and mad Anthony led the charge shouting, “Remember Paoli!” The British fired too quickly and too high, and then were cut down as they tried to reload. The work of the American bayonets was dreadful and the British defense was in chaos. So much blood entered the plunging musket barrels that it poured out the locks.
The surrender came swiftly and the surviving British waited wondering if they would be slaughtered the way they had massacred the Americans at Paoli the previous year. But Wayne, with a musket ball wound to his head and borne up on the shoulders of his men, took them as prisoners.
Two days later Washington arrived and took the hand of each officer, and squeezed hard while alas grinning ear to ear. Baron Steuben’s eyes filled with tears when Wayne told him that it was his training that had made it possible.
But the mandibles of urban blight have crushed and consumed more American historic vistas than any foreign armies ever attempted. Scouts recently won another victory at Stony Point 220 years after the Americans routed the British. The rocky outcropping, believed to be the location where Generals George Washington and Anthony Wayne met to plan the surprise attack has been saved.
Boy Scouts hiked to Buckberg Mountain for decades, but then last spring, three former scouts established Fund to Save Washington’s Lookout. They worked to increase public awareness about the site. “The father of our country, George Washington, and Gen. Anthony Wayne are smiling down on Stony Point for having the foresight to preserve the Revolutionary past,” said one of the former boy scouts, Larry Menchini.
Historian Dr. James Johnson said the land purchase had historic timing. “The acquisition of this scenic view will allow us all to commemorate an event on Buckberg Mountain that influenced the outcome of the American Revolution.”
The Beaverkill Conservancy Inc., the nonprofit land acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute, bought the 5.2-acre parcel at the site from thoughtful private developers for $125,000 with the help of a grant for $117,500.
The town will manage Washington’s Lookout on OSI’s behalf as a landmark with rustic amenities, officials said. A small parking area will be established, and trails and a small information kiosk will be constructed with assistance from the Boy Scout organization.
Again, here is a case where a few people partnered to raise the awareness of their regional historic treasures and vistas. Public awareness, a goal, and persistence allowed them to snatch this vista from the jaws of the insatiable bulldozers.
Grant to the Bolton Historical Society
Connecticut Society of the Cincinnati president, Clay Howe, announced that the Bolton Historical Society was awarded the $495 grant they sought to conduct historical research on the 5th French encampment and raise the level of public awareness of the importance of preserving the site. It is not too late to write CT Governor Rowland.
French Members of the Cincinnati Provide Input
Jay Jackson of the Society of the Cincinnati has been discussing the WRRR with members from France. Some have suggested that the WRRR identifying markers also function also as “Borne” to give the distance the French army had marched to the location of the markers. The French membership is very interested in contributing to the success of the project.
Historian Dr. Robert Selig Published Again
An article, The Duc de Lauzun and his Legion, was published in the latest Dec/Jan issue Colonial Williamsburg. He will be on the east coast this May to report his research on Lauzun to the Connecticut Historical Commission. He says he will be available then for speaking engagements.
Connecticut Sons of the American Revolution CTSSAR
Stephen Shaw announced that all WRRR newsletters are available for viewing at https://www.connecticutsar.org/about/rev-road