French Encampment at Danbury, 23 – 24 October 1782
Following their month-long stay in Crompond/Yorktown Heights, NY, the First Brigade, consisting of the Bourbonnois and Royal Deux-Ponts, broke camp on 22 October 1782, and began the march to Connecticut. Crossing the Croton and marching past Hait’s (or Haight’s) Tavern in Somers and the home of Joseph Purdy, the First Brigade set up its 39th camp of the return march that night near the home of loyalist General De Lancey in North Salem, which serves today as the North Salem Town Hall. In modern terms, it followed Route 202 toward Somers, turned onto Route 116/Titicus Road toward Salem Center. Parts of the eighteenth-century road is today covered by the Titicus Reservoir. As they followed Titicus Road they crossed into Connecticut, where the road becomes North Salem Road. About one mile into Connecticut they turned left/north onto Ridgebury Road, which they too to the intersection with George Washington Road and their 1781 campsite. Rather than encamp here the brigade continued east on George Washington Road to Miry Brook Road and West Wooster Street, i.e. the same road they had taken in 1781, into Danbury that route until it reached its 40th camp at Danbury north of South Street.
Rochambeau “stopped to lunch with the minister” of Ridgebury, presumably a Dr. Atwater, “his host of the previous year.” Atwater “gave us the best that he had in the house.” George Daniel Flohr of the Royal Deux-Ponts wrote that “On the 23rd of October we broke camp again and marched 15 miles to Danbury, a little town in the mountains in an agreeable area. We set up camp quite close to it. This is where the Province of New England begins.”
Concurrently Lauzun’s Legion retraced its steps to Peekskill, crossed the Hudson once again and began its march via Suffern to Wilmington, Delaware, where it would enter quarters for the winter of 1782/83.
The “hôpital” was an American military hospital which local tradition places in the “Hoyt House” on Park Avenue.
Suggestions for further readings:
Kennett, Lee. The French Forces in America, 1780-1783 (Westport, 1977)
Rice, Howard C. Jr., and Anne S.K. Brown, eds., The American Campaigns of Rochambeau’s
Army 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783 2 vols., (Princeton and Providence, 1972)
Scott, Samuel F. From Yorktown to Valmy: The Transformation of the French Army in an
Age of Revolution (Niwot, CO, 1998)
Selig, Robert A. Rochambeau in Connecticut: Tracing his Journey. Historic and
Architectural Survey Connecticut Historical Commission (Hartford: Connecticut
Historical Commission, 1999) available at https://w3r-us.org/history-by-state/
Selig, Robert A., Mary M. Donohue, Bruce Clouette and Mary Harper, ‘En Avant’ With Our French Allies:
Sites, Markers, and Monuments in Connecticut Commemorating the Contributions of French Troops
under the comte de Rochambeau to the Achievement of American Independence, 1780 to 1782
(Hartford: Connecticut Historical Commission, 2004)
For an extensive bibliography of English-, French- and German-language titles about France and the American War of Independence click here: Bibliography