January 26, 1999
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
Historian David McCullough Comments
Author and historian David McCullough recently told American Heritage why he is now focusing on the Revolutionary War. “When you are working on the Revolutionary War as I am doing now, you realize what the French did for us. We wouldn’t have a country if it weren’t for them. It wasn’t just that they sent the fleet and Rochambeau: They bankrolled us. They were supplying money and equipment and all kinds of things when we were in desperate need of it.
I want to cover events that should never have come out the way they did. The Revolutionary War is one of them, and the Revolutionary War is the most important war in our history.”
Outstanding Archaeological Finds
Revolutionary Road archaeologists Mary Harper and Connecticut’s state archaeologist Dr. Nicholas Bellantoni addressed the Bolton Open Space Commission during a public session. They declared Rochambeau Camp 5 on Valley View Farm, the best preserved Revolutionary war campsite they have ever worked on in Connecticut. They expected to find about 15 artifacts, but in the three warm days they had in December they already found 60 artifacts. Not only can the Rochambeau French Army campsite presence be proven, but a Continental Army presence and a prehistoric Indian presence as well.
During the public session, Mary Harper declared, “It is not just an extraordinarily rich historic site, it is a timeless historic vista. As I approached the site from the road that General Rochambeau used, the site loomed up just as the French Army saw it. Even the stone walls are just as the French maps show them.”
In stressing the importance of preserving this site, both archaeologists pledged their personal time mediating with state agencies and in educating the public so that Bolton can acquire the property as open space.
One of the owners, Richard Rose, told the commission of how he remembered seeing black circles in the plowed fields when he was a child. It was not until now that he realized they were the remains of the French Army’s campfires.
Later in the meeting, an impasse seemed to be overcome in negotiations between the owner and the town. If we can preserve this historic 100-acre farm, we can begin to discuss the possibilities of a Rochambeau museum and a place where reenactors and fife and drum corps can journey back in time. If we can preserve this site we can preserve other sites along the route. Doesn’t it make sense that in preserving our environment we can get double the benefit by favoring those sites that are important state and national heritage?
Heritage preservation based tourism builds on the unique historic and cultural aspects of the communities along the Revolutionary Road. Tourism validates the value of our heritage by generating jobs and local tax revenues. The special character of the Revolutionary War campsites and the period taverns and historic homes in their environs, conveys a sense of permanence, giving roots to our communities.
On a related note, Representative Pamela Sawyer just introduced Connecticut State legislation that would enable highly valued suburban open space like Valley View Farm, to be acquired with 65% state funding. National heritage in suburbs is threatened by urban sprawl. While heritage value can attract state funds, it is always difficult for hard strapped towns and villages to raise money to protect heritage. As a critical mass of accessible heritage is achieved, tourism explodes. Let’s support her legislation by contacting her and the other State Legislators.
Interest in the Revolutionary Road Grows
Several e-mail lists of this newsletter are now needed since the e-mail capacity is easily exceeded. The quality of the printed newsletter is far better than the e-mail but we don’t have the time for mailings. Please forward the newsletter to people who you think are interested in preserving Revolutionary War heritage.