W3R® Heritage Tour in Massachusetts 

History / Maps / Tours: auto and other / Pearls along the way

Latest changes: 2011-06-01: add NPS maps / 2011-07-28: add pearls / 2013-06-05: fix history link /

Historical Overview

In 1781 June about 600 re-inforcements for Rochambeau's army were brought to Boston because a British squadron was blocking the passage to Newport RI. The 400 reinforcements who were well enough to march went south to join up with Rochambeau in Providence RI, from which place most of the French army all went west to New York to join the U.S Continentals and go south to Yorktown.

In the summer of 1782 most of the French army retraced the 1781 route north to Providence but then marched to Boston rather than to Newport. Several thousand troops camped at Wrentham, then Dedham in December 1782 and boarded troop transports in Boston, bound for the Caribbean Islands.

For more details see French arrive in MA in 1781, and French return and embark from MA in 1782.

Consider the economic benefit to Massachusetts from repairing and provisioning many French warships and troop transports, then follow the trail the French troops took south to Providence (or north to Boston).

A Note about "Official" W3R Routes
NPS Historic Map for MA-RI [TIFF file]
NPS draft tour maps for all states

[ver 2005 Aug 23] Note: Route needs field-checking.
Goal GPS in WGS84
Start in Boston at the Boston Massacre Monument, at the corner of State and Congress Streets (very hard to park nearby) N42-21.538; W071-03.419
Go 0.2 mile W on Court St and turn left onto Tremont St. Go 1.2 m S and turn left onto Dwight St. Go 0.2 m E and turn right onto Washington St. N42-20.598; W071-03.992
Go 9.7 m S through Roslindale to Dedham. N42-14.061; W071-10.997
Washington St becomes Rt 1A Go 9.9 m S through Norwood to South Walpole. Turn left on Water St and then right onto Rt 1. Go 8.7 m S through Wrentham to North Attleboro. N41-59.596; W071-19.745
Bear right on North Washington St. Go 0.8 m S and bear right onto Old Post Road. At 2.0 m this becomes Newport Ave. Go 3.1 m S to South Attleboro. N41-54.883; W071-21.535
At Irving (or Lockwood) Ave turn right and then left onto Rt 1. Go 2.7 m S, turn right on Exchange St Go 0.2 m E crossing the river and turn left on Roosevelt Ave Go 0.2 m S to to end at Slater Mill Site in Pawtucket RI. N41-52.628; W071-23.003

Base map is © 2005 DeLorme (www.delorme.com) Street Atlas USA®

Pearls along the Necklace -- Nearby Revolutionary-Era Sites

Minuteman National Historic Park and the five-mile Battle Road Trail from Lexington to Concord MA. There are many additional sites in the nearby towns of Charlestown, Lincoln, and Quincy (home of John Adams).

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail that connects visitors to sixteen major Revolutionary War sites, including KingŐs Chapel Burying Ground (with the grave of a French officer), Benjamin Franklin Statue / Boston Latin School, (Huguenot) Paul Revere's Home, and the U.S.S. Constitution (50-gun frigate from 1812).
For a summary see The Freedom Trail Foundation

The Roxbury Redoubt: As they marched out of Boston in 1781 on a narrow causeway to Roxbury the French troops passed a redoubt (an earthen fortification) that the British had built to protect the causeway from attack. Over the next 100 years the marshland on either side of the causeway was filled in and built up, so you can no longer approach this site by water. The historical plaque describing this is on the wall of the entry to the West Village complex (500-510 Parker St., Roxbury MA) of Northeastern University.

Camp 54 was the last campsite for the French troops as they marched north toward the transport fleet in Boston. The Charles River (half a mile to the north) provided water for the troops and their horses and oxen. The historical marker is located next to the traffic circle where Marsh St. ends at Court St. in Dedham MA.

Camp 53 was located where the King Philip Regional High School now stands at 201 Franklin St., Wrentham MA. The French army stayed here on December 1, 1782, on its way north to Boston, using the water of Lake Archer.

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