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March To Yorktown

December 03, 2012
All day

As re-enactors, we are quite aware of the time the Revolutionary War soldiers spent on ‘walking/marching’ about the countryside, from battle to battle. In a time of no easy conveyance, the best, most assured way was to walk. These were called ‘troop movements’. Records of that period reflect that a one-day march could range from 10-50 miles.

In April of 1775, after British forces in Boston ventured into the countryside of Lexington and Concord, an alarm was raised throughout the Colonies. Militia units from all of the colonies, some as far away as Georgia, the Carolina’s and Virginia, walked to Cambridge, Mass. in response.

There were defeats, large and small, of Washington’s untested and untrained Army, until a British invasion from Canada in 1777 ended in the defeat and capture of the British army at the Battle of Saratoga. That American victory persuaded France to openly enter the war in early 1778. Then, in June of 1780, a French Army of 6000 troops, under the command of Count Rochambeau, landed in Newport RI.

In June of 1781, French soldiers, under the Count Rochambeau, marched from Newport, RI to Philipsburg, NY (currently Greenburg, NY) to join with American troops there, under the command of General George Washington. The two Armies encamped in Philipsburg for 6 weeks before marching to Yorktown, VA., in August of 1781. Together they marched approximately 500 miles, arriving in Yorktown in late September/early October. The French troops had marched a total of 700+ miles from Newport, RI to Yorktown, VA in support of the American cause.

In June of 2006, the 225th anniversary of the original march, a small but dedicated band of Revolutionary War re-enactors commemorated the ‘March of the Two Armies’, by walking the entire route from Newport, RI to Yorktown, VA. They used the French engineering drawings, diaries and early road maps, to negotiate what is now the W3R (Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route). They followed the original schedule – 225 years to the date.
As a result of their effort, and the labor of hundreds of other dedicated historians, volunteers and the U.S. Congress, the W3R was made a National Historic Trail in 2009.

In 2011, the Marchers celebrated a water portion of the trail aboard the USS Eagle. They also made presentations of National Park Service (NPS) banners, commemorating the route as a new National Historic Trail, at Mount Vernon, Yorktown, Princeton, Bolton CT, Washington DC, Rogers Tavern MD, Baltimore, Schuylkill Banks and Constitution Hall in Philadelphia. For more information visit (NPS site link here).

In 1782, following the victory at Yorktown, the French Army re-traced their route arriving back in Providence, Rhode Island. From there they marched to Boston Harbor, boarding ships for naval deployment to the Caribbean.

We are pleased to announce that the same 2006 re-enactor contingent of marchers will regroup on Dec. 3-9, 2012, to recreate this last leg of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route.

Thank you for your interest in American History, we look forward to sharing this historic journey, with you…

– view the newscast from the Fort Meade March here – (3.12 mb)
Thanks to the Fort Meade Public Affairs Office.
– view a clip from the parade in Yorktown Monty here – (1.65 mb)
– view the online web album of the March to Yorktown Diorama here –
– download the brochure here– (1.01 mb)