WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU REVOLUTIONARY ROUTE, NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL

W3R, Newsletter No. 68, June 24, 2011

Editor Hans DePold, Bolton Town Historian, Depoldh@gmail.com

https://www.connecticutsar.org/about/rev-road/newsletters

Since 1998-2000, our goal is the stewardship of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail (W3R NHT) that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland Virginia and DC, and the elevation to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation all along the route. This newsletter tries to represent the point of view of the patriots who respected Washington and Rochambeau, the ones who, if alive, would be working with us to honor them today.

The first W3R NHT march is under way

There is an urgent need for support of the W3R NHT marchers in western CT beyond Farmington where the Marchers will be headed on this coming Monday.  In addition to hosts in western Connecticut there is a need for a host July 4 in the Mount Kisco, NY area.  Those areas are actually among the wealthiest and most generous in the nation.  The reason for this call for support is only because we need to let the people know the marchers are coming because the people in those areas have had very little notice because they are among the first areas of the march.

Bolton hosted three women and five men marchers for diner and for breakfast this week.  Seven were of college age.  You would be proud to host them.  They need support now.  The men took showers at the fire station and the women came to our home for theirs.  It rained during the march and they used cloths dryers to dry their wet clothes and shoes. The SAR, DAR, the Society of the Cincinnati and historical societies need to help get the word out ahead of the march.  The DAR will be giving them a diner this week too.

Also, the uniforms were provided free for the students by the organizers so the organizers need assistance to pay the bills for this march.  After Bedford NY there is a 5 wk break just like when Washington’s and Rochambeau’s troops remained outside NYC.  Then the march will move into NJ with fresh students.  Then for the last segment a third group of fresh students will join them.  The students come from all over the USA and are under a grant so they pay nothing.  But the organizers are paying most of the cost out of their pockets for uniforms and expenses of the van and equipment.   They need about $20K support.

The 501(c)3 sponsor for the march can accept tax deductible donations.  They are:
Living History Education Foundation (LHEF)
11 Lake Drive
Buchanan, New York 10511

The Secret Plans of Generals Washington and Rochambeau

The uninformed like to point out that General Washington was probably not educated much beyond the age of 16.  But that was actually quite exceptional because after attending a one room school house until age 12 bright students in the 1700’s went directly to the University or to a local tutor. (High schools were started in the mid 1800s.)
For instance the most brilliant American theologian and philosopher prior to the Revolution was Jonathan Edwards who went to Yale (then New Haven College) at age 12 and graduated valedictorian at age 16.  So if Washington completed his education by 16 he was among the better educated.  The universities were originally started for the training of the clergy.  Very few people were formally educated beyond age twelve. Early schools primarily taught children the very basics and how to study and educate themselves.  Abraham Lincoln educated himself. Most well educated people today are still primarily self-educated.

In the 18th century all people trained in the military, the sciences, and the clergy spoke and wrote in Latin as the international language. General Patton’s military education included reading the military strategies of the Romans in Latin. Until the 1300’s most European governments still documented everything that was official in Latin. Germany for instance had more than 6 versions of their language and they selected the language of the Court of Prague to become the official German language in the 1300’s. Similarly Henry VIII consolidate the English language in the 1500’s from its several spoken languages. The assertion that Washington and Rochambeau could not communicate without their translators is nonsense.  That does not mean they did not use translators for most things.  It is documented that Rochambeau, Rev Colton, and Ezra Styles (Yale President) communicated easily together entirely in Latin at Rev George Colton’s house in Bolton CT, on the evening of Nov 4, 1782.  Washington himself only dismisses the need to know Greek (not Latin or even French) in his criticism of a candidate for a post.

The easiest way for anyone to deceive the occupying British army, was to determine what the British expected the Americans to do and then do everything to reinforce what the British already believed.  That strategic information (or misinformation) could then be used as leverage to obtain more provisions from the rich American colonies in that region (NY, NJ, CT and etc) because the American army lacked supplies. That was the strategy of General Washington. The British thought New York City was the logical target so Washington stayed near by and anytime the British threatened to attack somewhere else Washington would pretend he was getting ready to attack NYC. That strategy bottled up 75% of the British army and navy. The final attack to end the war would be at a weak British position where the French navy could help prevent their escape and could bombard them.  Washington admits we were almost ready to give up and the attack absolutely had to be successful “to revive the expiring hopes” of the Country.  Since Britain was the world’s superpower, France was the up and rising superpower, and America was broke, it was reasonable that the final strategy was determined by the French high command just as the American and NATO high commands determine the strategy in Afghanistan and Libya today.  But only Generals Washington and Rochambeau knew these plans in America and they clearly tell us that fact, as you will see below.  Even Washington’s chief Army engineer, the Quarter Master General, did not have a need to know the plans.

Washington confirms the secret plans in a letter to Noah Webster of West Hartford CT seven years after Yorktown and three years before becoming our first President. See: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mgw:@field(DOCID+@lit(gw300032))>

Noah Webster (West Hartford, CT wrote America’s first Dictionary) wrote to Washington questioning if there was indeed a secret plan.

[Note 28: Noah Webster had written (July 14): “The late Quarter Master General has assured me that a combined attack was intended to be made upon New York, and that the arrival of the French fleet in the Bay of Chesapeake was unexpected, and changed the plan of operations.” Webster’s letter is in the Washington Papers.] This can all be found in the Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. John C. Fitzpatrick, Editor.

Washington responded to Noah Webster as follows: Mount Vernon, July 31, 1788.
Sir: I duly received your letter of the 14th. instant, and can only answer very briefly, and generally from memory: that a combined operation of the land and naval forces of France in America, for the year 1781, was preconcerted the year before: that the point of attack was not absolutely agreed upon, because it would be easy for the Count de Grasse, in good time before his departure from the West Indies, to give notice by Express, at what place he could most conveniently first touch to receive advice, because it could not be foreknown where the enemy would be most susceptible of impression; and because we (having the command of the water with sufficient means of conveyance) could transport ourselves to any spot with the greatest celerity: that it was determined by me (nearly twelve months beforehand) at all hazards to give out and cause it to be believed by the highest military as well as civil Officers that New York was the destined place of attack, for the important purpose of inducing the Eastern and Middle States to make greater exertions in furnishing specific supplies than they otherwise would have done, as well as for the interesting purpose of rendering the enemy less prepared elsewhere: that, by these means and these alone, artillery, Boats, Stores and Provisions were in seasonable preparation to move with the utmost rapidity to any part of the Continent; for the difficulty consisted more in providing, than knowing how to apply the military apparatus: that before the arrival of the Count de Grasse it was the fixed determination to strike the enemy in the most vulnerable quarter so as to ensure success with moral certainty, as our affairs were then in the most ruinous train imaginable: that New York was thought to be beyond our effort and consequently the only hesitation that remained was between an attack upon the British army in Virginia or that in Charleston: and finally that (by the intervention of several communications and some incidents which cannot be Detailed in a letter; and wch. were altogether unknown to the late Quartermaster General of the Army, who was informed of nothing but what related to the immediate duties of his own department) the hostile Post in Virginia, from being a provisional and strongly expected became the definitive and certain object of the Campaign. I only add, that it never was in contemplation to attack New York, unless the Garrison should first have been so far disgarnished to carry on the southern operations, as to render our success in the siege of that place as infallible as any future military event can ever be made.28 For I repeat it, and dwell upon it again and again, some splendid advantage (whether upon a larger or smaller scale was almost immaterial) was so essentially necessary to revive the expiring hopes and languid exertions of the Country, at the crisis in question, that I never would have consented to embark in any enterprize; wherein, from the most rational plan and accurate calculations, the favourable issue should not have appeared as clear to my view, as a ray of light. The failure of an attempt agst. the Posts of the enemy, could, in no other possible situation during the war, have been so fatal to our cause.

That much trouble was taken and finesse used to misguide and bewilder Sir Henry Clinton in regard to the real object, by fictitious communications, as well as by making a deceptive provision of Ovens, Forage and Boats in his Neighborhood, is certain. Nor were less pains taken to deceive our own Army; for I had always conceived, when the imposition did not completely take place at home, it could never sufficiently succeed abroad.

Your desire of obtaining truth is very laudable, I wish I had more leizure to gratify it: as I am equally solicitous the undisguised verity should be known. Many circumstances will unavoidably be misconceived and misrepresented. Notwithstanding most of the Papers which may properly be deemed official are preserved; yet the knowledge of innumerable things, of a more delicate and secret nature, is confined to the perishable remembrance of some few of the present generation. With esteem I am.
[M.L.]

Rochambeau unequivocally stated in his memoirs that the New York City operation was a deception that the plans were a secret, and the plan was what actually transpired in the sequel of events. Even Rochambeau’s second in command, Chastellux, did not know the plans. Rochambeau said this in his memoirs:

“But what completely deceived the English general, was a confidential letter written by the Chevalier de Chastellux to the French representative at Congress, where in he boasted of having artfully succeeded in bringing round my opinion to concur with that of General Washington; stating, at the same time, that the siege of the island of New York had been at length determined upon, and that our two armies were on the march for that city, and that orders had been sent on to M. de Grasse to come with his fleet and force his way over the bar of Sandyhook to the mouth of the harbour of New York.”

Next Rochambeau says he didn’t tell Chastellux the real plan. None of the staff officers, French or American, were confidants in the plan. Only Washington, Rochambeau, and deGrasse (who was told by letter with a cipher code) knew the plan (later, Washington helps Lafayette deduce the plan):

Rochambeau says, “The English officer who had charge of every branch of the spying department sent me a copy of the intercepted missive and, by so doing, his intention had not been most assuredly to set my wits at ease. I sent for the Chevalier de Chateaux; showed him the letter, and then threw it in the fire, and left him a prey to his own remorse. Of course, I did not endeavour to undeceive him, and, in the sequel, we shall see to what extent this general officer had been made the confidant of the real project which I proposed to the Count de Grasse when I returned to Newport.”

Rochambeau states (above) the plan (project) was sent to deGrasse immediately upon his return to Newport from the meeting with Washington in Wethersfield.   Rochambeau said in his memoirs that in the sequel (or what transpired) we see the real plan (the Chesapeake was the military objective). After the Wethersfield Conference, Rochambeau gave the campaign plan to Admiral De Grasse as follows: (English transcript of Rochambeau’s 11 June 1781 letter to de Grasse.)

This fall each state W3R group should again begin legislation for their state and for the NPS

As you know Representative Pam Sawyer started the successful legislation in CT in 1995 to identify the encampments and route of the CT portion of the W3R NHT and we got the funding 1998-2001.   Rep. Pam Sawyer said she would sponsor legislation now for a Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism study for how CT would like to see the W3R national trail implemented and run. I told her it would have support from the original W3R groups plus conservation and hiking groups this time. The study would be spread over a few years. She said she would do it and we will put together the details and the support groups this fall.

We will start planning a kick-off meeting for the end of October and write a draft proposal by Christmas. Pam said she would introduce a Connecticut bill next year.  Every state on the W3R NHT needs similar legislation to fund their state agency that will be the state focal point for the W3R.  We should try to share ideas for the legislation.  Hopefully each state W3R group knows which state agency will coordinate the W3R NHT for the state.  It could be an environment group in some states.

Similarly this fall each state W3R group needs to establish their state congressional champion to support funding for the NPS for W3R NHT administration. In 2000, our Congressman John Larson agreed to champion the NPS W3R NHT study bill.  Now we need a NPS W3R NHT administration bill.  Every state on the W3R NHT needs to begin these activities or the W3R NHT will slowly fade away for them.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition gets federal funding exceeding $1million per year.  Previously we were talking about a budget of $400,000 per year for the NPS administration of the W3R but we need a single number for all the states to recommend.  We need the national organization to advocate and coordinate these critical legislative activities.  We need to begin action now to be ready before economic recovery.  There is a new wave of recovery funding forming and we need to catch that wave.  Getting the W3R NHT was just the beginning.  We still need action to make it a reality.

National Trails Day

National Trails Day June 4/5 was a great success.  In CT, Huntington House (Sterling, CT) and Columbia had new programs and Lebanon and Bolton are going on five years of programs.  Many people have provided favorable feedback.  In France most towns have a “fête”, a festive day or evening.  It is always the same day each year so the tourism guidebooks have the dates and tourists can plan their trips accordingly.

Expanding the mailing list

Please let others know about this CTSSAR W3R website and have them send us their e-mail address so they can be informed quickly about what we are doing.  Send you email address to depoldh@gmail.com.