This weekend in Somerset County, New Jersey the town of Somerville hosted History on the Green! The event was filled with exciting living history demonstrations, meet and greets with reenactors portraying some of the Revolutionary War’s biggest icons, and a musical performance featuring the Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes and Drums Corp, during which they performed a piece written for the United States by France, gifted to Ben Franklin, John Jay and John Adams (among others) in 1783. The song had not been played in America in 240 years, and was performed for the first time since at the conclusion of the event. Historian Dr. Iris de Rode, who discovered the tune, was present, as was reenactor Antoine Watts, who discovered the melody, alongside numerous professionals from the field.
Dr. de Rode gave a lecture on the significant meetings which occurred at Washington’s Somerville headquarters, located at the Wallace House, revealing new insights into the French Ambassador Conrad Alexandre Gérard de Reyneval’s state of mind while meeting with Washington, which she based on Gérard’s own military report she discovered amongst the Chastellux archives! Following the lecture, the Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes and Drums Corps performed a short concert at the Wallace House, before proceeding on a 1- mile march to the Somerset County Courthouse Green, where they performed a full concert.
Here, the previously mentioned tribute to America was performed. The tune was a “drinking song” written by French Philosopher André Morellet first performed at a party Ben Franklin hosted in Paris attended by senior French officers including Rochambeau and Lafayette. The song expresses a sentiment of solidarity and appreciation for the birth of America.
Alongside the concert were podcaster and historian Sean Dineen, who presented on Black soldiers in the Revolution, as well as professional artist David Ciampichini, who discussed his art style and work with guests. Reenactors in attendance included Keith Reilly as Chastellux, Rob Buccheri as Rochambeau, and Sam Davis as George Washington, as well as Antoine Randolph Watts and Algernon Ward Jr. as soldiers of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment.
Also present was Darley Newman, television star and host of “Travels with Darley” on PBS, and her team, who filmed and broadcast the day’s events to the nation! The day’s events were organized by Somerset County and W3R-NJ, and the funding for the Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes and Drums Corps was provided by WARO.