September 22, 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 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.
Caution, Architectural Historians At Work
Dr. Robert Selig, a noted expert on Rochambeau in America, arrived in Connecticut September 14 and got to work. He met with members of the Inter Community Historic Resources Committee the next day and was provided the committee’s research. Mary Donahue, a historian in the Connecticut Historical Preservation Office has been accompanying him as he visits historians and sites across the state. Having written several articles about two soldiers in Rochambeau’s army, he has the task of collecting the histories of events associated with the structures that were used by the Continental Army and the French troops along Connecticut’s Revolutionary Road.
On September 29, Dr. Selig will speak at an Inter Community Historic Resources Committee meeting at Bolton Town Hall. At 7PM the future of Campsite 5, Valley View Farm, will be discussed. Elected local officials have been invited to comment. At 8 PM Dr. Selig will speak about the historic value of Camp 5 and the Revolutionary Road.
The Bricks of Lebanon
General Lauzun lead the equivalent of today’s Foreign Legion. Rochambeau stationed his force in Lebanon for the winter of 1780-81. Lauzun’s troops were among the first furnished with American horses. Dr. Selig writes that the French complained a lot about the high prices they were charged for horses and other supplies. In fact two French soldiers almost killed each other over the horses. Dr. Selig said the youngest member of Rochambeau’s staff, 21 year old Comte de Lauberdiere, was challenged to a duel when he insulted the Marquis du Bouchet. Lauberdiere had offered to buy Bouchet’s horses since when Rochambeau’s army marched in 1781, Bouchet was ordered to stay behind and protect Newport. That offer was insult added to injury; Lauberdiere was seriously wounded and Bouchet was nearly killed in the duel that resulted.
General Lauzun meanwhile was ordered to bake bread for the entire French army as the column moved through eastern Connecticut. A huge brick oven was constructed on Lebanon’s green. It is said that the French had used the bricks as ship ballast when sailing to America. Lauzun set up the bakery and then mobilized his troops and formed the southern protective flank of the main French army.
Years later, the residents of Lebanon are trying to locate where the oven was built, and where the bricks all went. Did residents use the bricks as building materials? The French had unique styles of bricks depending on the region in which they were made. The bricks of Lebanon will be an interesting research project because surely they could be identified.
Encampment 5 Meets The New York Times
On August 16, 1998, the New York Times ran an article about Valley View Farm, and the growing awareness of the need to preserve heritage and open space. The cover photo is a view of the farm behind the road sign commemorating Rochambeau’s Encampment 5.
Richard Rose still farms the land and has been criticized by some for not accepting a recent 1.3+ million dollar offer from a developer. He would like the town to buy it and preserve it as open space. He says the price would be somewhere between 1.2 and 1.5 million dollars depending on how long he can live there and liquidate his holdings of machinery and cattle. He reports that since the NY Times article, five more people called to say they would like to buy the farm if the town of Bolton does not want it.
Dr. Selig has shown that on November 4, 1782, General Rochambeau visited Reverend Colton on the army’s return trip. That means that Reverend Colton, who owned the farm during the revolution, was on good terms with the French officers to be honored by visits on both trips.