WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU REVOLUTIONARY ROUTE W3R NEWSLETTER NO. 39

March 3, 2001

Editor Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian, Committee of Correspondence

Our goal is the creation of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, National Historic Trail, that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, and the elevation of the quality of heritage preservation all along the route to a higher level.

From the Office of Congressman John Larson

Knowledgeable historians who are following the preparations for the 225th anniversary of American independence marvel at what freshman Congressman John Larson was able to accomplish during his first term and are wondering what he will do for an encore. Well he and his staff have been busy preparing for the next step.

There will soon be a meeting with the Department of Interior (DOI) and National Park Service (NPS) to define the WRRR project, schedule, and cost. Then an appropriations bill will be submitted. Finally, the study should be completed by 2003 and Congress will need legislation to designate the WRRR a National Historic Trail.

Rhode Island Organizes a Strong WRRR Committee

On March 2nd, RI organized their WRRR committee at a meeting in the offices of Fleet Bank in Providence. Colonel Serge Gabriel has been doing an outstanding job shuttling between groups — similar to what Lafayette did during the Battle of Rhode Island! It has paid off with a fine and enthusiastic RI team.

Roger Begin, the French Honorary Consul to RI, who is Vice President of the Fleet Bank at Kennedy Plaza, hosted the meeting. Former Newport Mayor, Bob McKenna, is the chairman of the RI team. At this meeting, I had the opportunity to talk with Larry Gall of the Boston office of the NPS. He said that with the legislation, the NPS is impressed and confident enough in the value of the WRRR that they have already begun work. He has asked us to identify our stakeholders and the NPS will begin a free quarterly newsletter to report the progress of their WRRR study. I only have about 10% of your street addresses. So please write to the NPS directly at this address to receive the free printed newsletters when their press starts rolling.

Mr. Lawrence Gall
Boston Support Office, NPS
15 State Street,
Boston, Massachusetts 02109

Please write! This is important for our WRRR!

Town Official Suggests Demolishing Camp 5 Building

A Bolton town official spoke against nominating the Rose Farm house for the National Register of Historic Places, claiming it is too old and should be torn down. The Connecticut Historical Commission ignored the official’s plea and nominated the Rose Farm house as well as the Bolton Green, Town Hall, the Congregational Church, and entire Camp 5 archeological site, the stage coach house, and four other houses for listing in the National Register. That will place 130 acres along the WRRR in the National Register.

The private owners and the church congregation favored their own property nominations. It was made possible at no cost to the town or the owners by an historical research grant from United Technologies Inc. obtained by historical society member David Loda. On March 1st the Bolton Historical Society met and discussed the paper work needed to create a trust to manage Camp 5 buildings and relieve town officials of the responsibility. Captain Sal Tarentino of Sheldon’s Light Horse attended and gave a rousing talk about the importance of Camp 5. Inland Wetlands Commission chairwoman, Attorney Gwen Marrion, asked for and was granted a delay to see if a broader coalition for both land and building preservation can be worked out. She called a meeting for that purpose, March 13th.

The Wethersfield Plan According to Berthier

In his diary, Louis-Alexandre Berthier gave his eye witness confirmation of his knowledge of the only alliance plan, the Wethersfield Plan, and of its secrecy. 7 June 1781 “The Comte de Rochambeau had arranged with General Washington a plan of campaign that could only be directed towards one of the two points occupied by the English; New York or the Chesapeake Bay. He sent a frigate to inform the Comte deGrasse in the islands of these plans, which are being kept secret.”

In a secret code known to Washington and deGrasse, Rochambeau had directed deGrasse to the Chesapeake. After deGrasse engaged the British posts in VA, the letter also mentioned a possible campaign at New York, but only if deGrasse brought 8,000 fresh troops to make a beachhead at Brooklyn and the assembled allied army attacked from the North (Hudson) River with heavy artillery. It was common knowledge to the French at that time that an earlier request for 6,000 fresh French troops had been denied, and in fact deGrasse was only able to raise 3,000 troops. The artillery was sent to VA. Rochambeau maintains in his memoirs that New York was a diversion, never a practicable military objective.

It would be grossly incorrect to say Washington and Rochambeau had no plan of campaign. The Wethersfield Plan is undeniable. New York was always a political objective, and therefore was approached on several occasions to create military diversions.

Teasers

Excerpts of stuff for future newsletter consideration:

Eyewitness Account of the Military Diversion at NY

Military Journal of Dr Thacher, Surgeon in the Massachusetts regiment.

“Our situation reminds me of some theatrical exhibition, where the interest and expectations of the spectators are continually increasing, and where curiosity is wrought to the highest, point. Our destination has been for some time matter of perplexing doubt and uncertainty; bets have run high on one side that we were to occupy the ground marked out on the Jersey shore, to aid in the siege of New York, and on the other, that we are stealing a march on the enemy, and are actually destined to Virginia, in pursuit of the army under Lord Cornwallis. We crossed at King’s-ferry, 21st instant (Aug 21,1781), and encamped at Haverstraw..”…

The Wethersfield Plan According to Lauzun

Upon returning to France after American independence was won, the duc de Lauzun gives his witness that the Wethersfield Plan was the one and only plan Washington and Rochambeau made for their combined attack. On May 9, 1781 news arrived from France that Rochambeau’s son was unsuccessful in his plea for additional troops from France. About 8000 fresh reinforcements from France and the Caribbean were needed to take New York City. Lauzun writes in his memoirs. “At this time the Concorde, a frigate hailing from France, brought back M. le Vicomte de Rochambeau (the son), who had not been able even to have himself taken seriously… The latest instructions from the court made M. de Rochambeau (the father) anxious for a meeting with General Washington, to settle the plan of the campaign for the army and the fleet. It was officially decided and signed at this conference (Wethersfield 5-22-1781)”…

General Washington’s Secret Code Name was 711

“The personal appearance of our commander-in- chief is that of the perfect gentleman and accomplished warrior. He is remarkably tall, full six feet, erect and well proportioned. The strength and proportion of his joints and muscles appear to be commensurate with the preeminent powers of his mind. The serenity of his countenance, and majestic gracefulness of his deportment, impart a strong impression of that dignity and grandeur which are his peculiar characteristics, and no one can stand in his presence without feeling the ascendancy of his mind, and associating with his countenance the idea of wisdom, philanthropy, magnanimity, and patriotism. There is a fine symmetry in the features of his face, indicative of a benign and dignified spirit.”….

General Prescott Horsewhipped by a Tavern Owner

“Sept 1779 General Prescott, who was taken at Rhode Island by Colonel Barton, on his route through Connecticut, called at a tavern to dine; the landlady brought on the table a dish of succotash (boiled corn and beans). The general, unaccustomed to such kind of food, with much warmth (anger) exclaimed ‘What? do you treat us with the food of hogs?'”….

225 Is Not divisible by 50

We are already in the 225th anniversary of the American Revolution approaching the 225th anniversary of the joining of the French and American Armies that marched to Yorktown for the battle that decided the war. The march and the WRRR have never been commemorated with a US postal stamp in 225 years. But the US Postal service says certain events can only be commemorated on 50-year anniversaries and 225 is not divisible by 50. So tough luck for those of you who may think it is silly to commemorate cartoon characters at the expense of Washington and Rochambeau.

That 50-year rule only applies to American heritage, American patriots, soldiers who died for our country, historic heroes, and matters of real national importance.

But have no fear; the silly, the frivolous, the capricious, and the senseless are exempt from the rule. The roadrunner will get his stamp this year and none of the Disney cartoon characters, rock singers, actresses or actors are affected. Hannibal Lecter apparently still meets the U S Postal Service minimum standards but things related to Washington, Rochambeau, and the thousands of allies who came here and died in America do not qualify because 225 years is not divisible by 50….