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What does W3R® mean? Why are we developing this trail?
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The informative material posted here as PDF files may be printed in bulk for handouts.

W3R®-US = the National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association, Inc.

W3R®-NHT = the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail

Our Main Tri-fold Brochure 

      You are invited to explore the W3R® [PDF file]
      This file contains two one-sided pages in color.
      Printed back-to-back these make a nice tri-fold brochure.
      (Make a single two-sided proof copy before committing to many copies;
      otherwise one side may print inverted with respect to the other.)
      You may set printer options to get a less costly grey-scale version.
 

Brochures on FAQs for a Single Side of Letter-size Paper  


Conflicting Numbers reported for the March

Q -- Why do signs and Web pages give different numbers for the strength of the French Expeditionary Force (FEF) for a specified day and place?

A -- Two factors contribute to the problem:

  • #1 -- First is the issue of what categories of people are included in the count. The main categories are enlisted men, officers (not included in the enlisted rosters), servants of the officers., hired auxiliaries (guides, couriers, teamsters/wagoneers, etc.), and associated military units (full or partial local militia and Continental units traveling with the French). Minor categories include wives and children (not very many on a foreign trip such as this) and observers (several governments had military staff traveling with the French officers). All of these contribute to numbers traveling the route and needing food and lodging along the way.
  • Second is the variation with time and path. The authors of signs and Web pages simply pick a number of thousands close to the original garrison size in Newport and use that for the whole trip south, neglecting those left behind to guard the garrison and its supplies, those left behind as very sick or dead along the route, those left behind to guard intermediate points, and reinforcements that joined the main body along the route. On many parts of the journey to Yorktown the FEF split up to travel as several bodies spaced a day apart on the main route or to follow several different paths.
On the W3R®-US website we try to be specific about the number of enlisted men in each regiment and to note when and how many and where reinforcements joined the main body, and the major numbers left behind on garrison duty, but getting the numbers right to the nearest hundred for any specific day and path is a challenge.

The acronym W3R® 

Q -- What is meant by the various common acronyms involving W3R?

First let us note the the acronym W3R® is protected as a service mark under U.S. law, so we use the registration superscript to denote that protection. Please request permission to use the acronym in public displays or publications.

W3R® stands for "Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route" This acronym is used in several ways:

  • W3R® alone means the historic 650-mile route and related activities in 1778-1783

  • W3R®-US or W3R®-USA means the present-day national organization, which sponsors research, places signs, and organizes commemorative and educational activities along the trail. The full name of the non-profit corporation is The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association, Inc.

  • W3R®-RI, W3R®-VA, etc . mean the state organizations which implement local programs.

  • W3R®-NHT refers to the complex of trails and affiliated sites that comprise the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail. Trails and affiliated sites are now being designated by the National Park Service as part of the W3R®-NHT based on state-by-state research reports that provide considerable evidence for the historic route. The W3R®-US has identified -- and has posted on this Website -- prospective tourism routes using modern roads that parallel the historic route.

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The mission of the National Washington-Rochambeau
Revolutionary Route Association, Inc. (W3R®-US) is
  • to partner with the National Park Service, W3R® chapters, historic sites, preservationists, conservationists, and other organizations along the 700-mile W3R® National Historic Trail and with them

  • initiate, coordinate, and promote programs that engage, inspire, and educate the public in the history of how France and the French people provided crucial aid to the United States during the American Revolution.
[adopted in 2011]

Vision (provisional statement) 

What's this all about? Many students in the United States have heard very little about the vital role that France played in supporting the fight to achieve the independence of the United States from Great Britain. We shall tell the fascinating story of intrigue and spying, grand aspirations and taking advantage of them, global diplomacy, subterfuge, bold and brave actions, selfish treason, clever inventions, foolish mistakes, social negotiations in the courts of European kings, thundering naval battles between sixty ships-of-the line in U.S. waters, then in the Caribbean Sea and in the Indian Ocean. There is much excitement and much to be learned of the human condition and spirit, and we shall present this as visitors enjoy the scenery following the trail of Rochambeau's army by car, on foot, by bicycle, and in boats.

Joe DiBello, the National Park Service's Superintendent of the W3R®-NHT has worked with Julie Bell, NPS staff consultant on program planning, to develop concise draft statements of the [*] Mission, Vision, Themes, and Objectives of the W3R®-NHT [PDF] developed from four NPS / W3R®-US Strategic Planning Meetings held in 2010.

What is the trail? The main Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R®) is the route -- from Newport RI and Boston MA to Yorktown VA -- that Washington and Rochambeau and the allied U.S.-French armies followed in 1781 from Rochambeau's the first encampment in Newport RI to Washington's main camp near Dobbs Ferry NY and on to Yorktown VA, where -- joined by French Admiral De Grasse, his fleet, and several thousand more French troops -- they besieged and captured the British army under General Cornwallis. This victory led Great Britain to cease major military operations within the United States, although battles continued elsewhere for the rest of the Revolutionary War (which ended in 1783). There is a 680-mile main land route linking the main army camps plus several major parallel routes and side paths and several river and bay routes.

Where does the Trail Go?  Joe DiBello, the National Park Service's Superintendent of the W3R®-NHT, and Samantha Driscoll, an historian for the NPS, developed

  • a set of maps showing the network of roads taken by the allied troops in 1781.
  • and a set of GoogleMaps¨ showing draft auto tour routes along the W3R®.
Links to both sets of maps are on our Tours page

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Projects for the Next Few Years 

  • Completing the state series of documentation surveys that catalog, summarize, and describe the context of documents related to the people, places, and events related to the French Expeditionary Force's operations in the U.S. theater during 1781-83. Each survey includes a catalog of "witness" buildings -- buildings still standing that were present along the route when the allied army moved from Newport RI and Boston MA to Yorktown VA in 1781 and the return in 1782 and 1783.

  • Improving the Web site to provide the public with the latest information on the history, commemorations, legislation, and opportunities to enjoy the trail.

  • Organizing commemorative events that engage and educate the public.

  • Drawing our best estimate of the historic route on a modern map.

  • Selecting a good set of modern roadways near the historic trail for auto tourism from Newport to Yorktown for initial development of signage and museum displays.

  • Forming a cooperative network with W3R®-related museums and parks along or near the auto trail where modern travelers may experience scenery or roads similar to 1781 or find displays relevant to the W3R so that the whole story of the W3R® may be told in many related portions.

  • Providing along the main trail way-finding signs (route markers) and providing at significant sites along the routes interpretive signs that describe the people and events and explain them in the context of the American Revolution.

  • Developing travel guides and directions for hikers, cyclists, and auto tourists.

  • Publishing brochures that tell the whole story of French aid to and alliance with the United States -- from the exploratory negotiations of 1775 until the formal signing of the peace treaties in 1783 which ended the global conflict and secured recognition by Great Britain of the United States' political independence.

  • Developing and distributing educational material such as treasure chests with teaching guides. Since the start volunteers and affiliates have worked with government agencies to achieve these goals. See other sections of this Web site for the full story.

    Who is developing the trail? The name for and effort to develop the trail started as a concept in 1996, became an informal organization in 2000, and was incorporated in 2004 as a coordinating body to focus the efforts of dozens of history-oriented organizations.
    See the list of Affiliated Organizations

    What is the current status of the trail? In 1999 the U.S. Congress asked the National Park Service (NPS) to study the basis and feasibility of designating the W3R® as a National Historic Trail. After a six-year study the NPS produced a report which concluded that the designation was appropriate and recommended that the designation be made. Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate passed such legislation, and on March 30, 2009, President Barak Obama signed the designation into law. For the history of this legislation see our Legislation page.

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