November 26, 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 to list the Revolutionary Road in the National Register of Historic Places. The Revolutionary Road was the choice of Rochambeau’s French army when they marched from Newport to Yorktown and back to Boston. 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. Motive For Declaration of Independence
Is it speculation to say that without army of Rochambeau, the Revolutionary War would have been lost?
Author Gregory T. Edgar goes even farther. In “Campaign of 1776, The Road To Trenton,” (pg. 41, Heritage Books, Inc. 1995) Edgar says, that if it were not for the need of guns and powder from the French, there would not have been a Declaration Of Independence. The patriots concluded that only by formally severing ties could America gain the trust of France. Silas Deane of CT was then sent to France to purchase supplies for the Continental Army.
There were in fact five major rebellions against the British Empire during the life of King George III and he crushed every one but the American Revolution. Only America was supported by an allied army. Rochambeau’s allied force and logistical supply system was supported by French, German, Spanish, Irish, Blacks, and many others. General Lauzun lead the precursor to the French Foreign Legion, a unit composed of soldiers from many different countries.
Author Dr. Robert Selig wrote that the Royal-Deux Ponts unit was from the principality of Zweibrucken, which is German for two bridges, which means deux ponts in French. Selig also found that when Washington’s army had dwindled to about 3000 men, his black soldiers stood by him and formed about 25% of his army.
Rochambeau’s army was a traveling lend-lease program and a Marshal Plan rolled into one. As they traveled through Connecticut, they provided a badly needed infusion of silver currency into the money supply. Upon meeting General Washington outside NYC, Rochambeau gave away half the remaining French silver to Washington so he could pay the American troops.
America and France have been allies ever since, and of course America has returned the favor twice in a very similar manner. Just as Rochambeau allowed General Washington to claim Yorktown, Eisenhower allowed General DeGaulle to take Paris.
Value In Heritage Preservation Based Tourism
The director of the Northeast Connecticut Visitors District, Nini Davis, sent us a copy of a new tourism brochure entitled “Revolutionary Road.” It listed 29 structures in northeastern Connecticut linked to the Revolution and the roads the patriots traveled. Dr. Selig thinks it is time for a RevRoad tour guide so that Michelin in France will see the need to bring their famous guides up to date. Jerry Ann Putt, director of the Hartford Tourism Districts thinks the five affected Tourism districts should work together.
This partnership is growing in historical, cultural, and now in economic directions. At some point the cultural and historical re-enactor activities will need to be coordinated along the path. At this time cultural and historical organizations are just beginning to inform one other, but eventually there will be a need for coordination through the tourism districts to reap the benefits of heritage conservation.
Heritage preservation based tourism has the multiple benefits of preserving important concepts of liberty, conserving the environment and villages, while creating an economy in which these historic assets can begin to pay there own way.
In order to preserve the entire route, historians, re-enactors, and French Cultural organizations in other states must form partnerships and find a state legislator to champion the effort to set aside funds to do the listing. In Connecticut, State Representative Pamela Sawyer had to introduce the legislation three times before it was approved.
Albert McJoynt of West Virginia can be thanked for two web sites. Visit them today.
Revolutionary Road Map of Connecticut Unveiled
State selected archaeologists Mary Harper and Bill Keegan employed considerable detective work to identify the road taken by Rochambeau in Connecticut. Diaries of officers and privates were read to locate landmarks that mark the road. Churches and cemeteries were particularly useful. Special aerial map techniques were used to detect old abandoned sections of the original road. They described the process with numerous large topographical wall maps and examples of different mapping techniques.
The unveiling was in Bolton on November 20. Historians and re-enactors attending the meeting could find nothing wrong with the work. The map will be further fine tuned as sites are now identified using metal detectors to locate the buttons, buckles, and musket balls left by the troops