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History on the Green – Featuring France’s 1783 Musical Tribute to America

July 22, 2023
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Somerset County Courthouse, 20 N Bridge St
Somerville, 08876 United States

The Somerset County Commission, the New Jersey Historical Commission and the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route – New Jersey, invite you to join them for History on the Green Saturday, July 22, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm!

Be transported back in time at this living history event for the whole family! Join George Washington and his French ally General the Comte de Rochambeau on the Courthouse Green in downtown Somerville for a pop-up encampment and a day of free activities!

Professional artist David Ciampichini, whose work stands in international collections across the globe, will be present working on a painting of General Washington, General Rochambeau and Admiral De Grasse. David will be demonstrating his unique techniques and materials along while explaining his process – David describes his style as “representational with dream-like imagery and three dimensional mixed media to evoke the reminiscence of a modern, eclectic visual experience.” His subjects have ranged from George Washington, to Lucille Ball, and his work has been displayed in magazines and on book covers, in addition to being exhibited in churches, libraries and galleries throughout New York, new Jersey and Pennsylvania.

David Ciamachini

Professor and podcaster Dr. Sean Dineen will also be present giving a talk on Black soldiers in the Revolutionary War. As a wheelchair user, Dr. Dineen has had to overcome many obstacles to pursue his passion for history.

Dr. Sean Dineen with Rochambeau and Chastellux



Revolutionary War history will come to life in downtown Somerville, New Jersey, as part of Somerset County’s second annual “History on the Green” on the historic Courthouse Green on July 22, featuring a historically significant performance by a world-famous fife and drum band.

The event is being sponsored by Somerset County, in central New Jersey, in association with the New Jersey Chapter of the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association.

During this family-friendly living history event, visitors can explore a pop-up Revolutionary War encampment, interact with George Washington and other reenactors, play with colonial toys and games, watch canon and musket demonstrations, and much more! Activities are scheduled between 10 AM and 4 PM.

This year’s program will feature a procession and concert by the internationally renowned Massachusetts Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums, made possible by the National Park Service’s Washington Rochambeau National Historic Trail. The band will start lining up at 2 PM in front of the historic Wallace House, which served as Washington’s winter headquarters between 1778-1779. At 2:30 p.m., the Fife & Drum Corps will parade one mile down Main Street to the historic Courthouse, where they will perform a finale concert with music from the Revolutionary War era around 3 PM.

Among the songs will be a musical tribute that the French gave to Ben Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay, among others, at a party near Paris in 1783 and is believed not to have been performed since. The lyrics were discovered by historian Dr. Iris de Rode and the melody found and arranged by reenactor Antoine Watts, both of whom will be on hand for the performance.
The tribute came in the form of a “drinking song” of 22 verses, composed by the philosopher Abbé André de Morrelet, and performed after an enormous feast and the borrowed mansion of Ben Franklin near Paris. The second verse, translated to English, sums up the sentiment of the occasion:
“I will never complain
On the Fate that made me a Frenchman.
But at this moment I envy
Another country.
In this feast,
I make myself American”

“The Frenchmen who fought alongside American officers as the new nation’s first allies were as excited as the Americans at the thought of having changed the course of history, toward freedom and self-determination,” explains Dr. Iris de Rode, the scholar who discovered the song which, notably references New Jersey’s capital city, Trenton.

“We are thrilled to have the amazing Massachusetts Middlesex County Volunteers Fife and Drum Corps perform for us at this year’s History on the Green event,” said Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “Somerset County is proud of our rich heritage and our designations as both a Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area and part of the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail.”

Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeaur, General Comte de Rochambeau, led French troops through the Somerset County towns of Bernards, Bridgewater, Manville, Millstone, Franklin, and Rocky Hill, as they joined the Continental Army in the fight for independence. General Washington served as the commander of the allied armies, while General Rochambeau had the military expertise to play a vital role in strategic planning. In fact, Rochambeau’s army was instrumental in the victory achieved in Yorktown, Va., in 1781, where British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered his army to General Washington, sealing the American victory.

For more information, Visit https://soconj.gov/HistoryontheGreen or contact the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage office at 908-231-7110 or CulturalHeritage@co.somerset.nj.us.


Also Featuring:

The World Famous Fifes & Drums,

Revolutionary War Soldiers performing cannon and musket demonstrations

Children’s Activities

Hand-cut Colonial Style Silhouettes

and more!