A monthly publication of The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association
February 2023 On the Web: www.w3r-us.org Vol. 3, No. 2
Annual Meeting Weekend in Delaware to Include Ship Tour, Socials
W3R-DE will host the Annual Meeting of W3R-US and has developed several activities around the April 15 business session. Here are the highlights of the two-day gathering in Wilmington; please watch your email for additional information.
Friday, April 14
4 p.m. Check-in begins at the Staybridge Hotel with a special group rate of $129 per night until March 24 and parking discounted to $14 a day. Full breakfast is included. The Staybridge is at 13th and Market Streets, directly across the street from the Chancery Market in the Hercules Building, and centrally located for all events.
6 p.m. Pop-up gathering in the Chancery Market. Special prices for drinks and food. Mix and have fun! The Market has a large outdoor fireplace with comfortable seating if weather cooperates; indoor ambience includes fireplaces.
Saturday, April 15
9 a.m.-12 noon. Annual Meeting at the Junior League Building, 18th and Market Streets. Box lunch ($15) will be served.
1 p.m. Free time. Welcome bags, distributed at the meeting, will include information on all proximate heritage and cultural sites. Options include the Delaware History Museum and African American Museum for $8.
4:30-5:30 p.m. Delaware’s Tall Ship, Kalmar Nyckel, open for touring.
4:30-8:30 p.m. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks in the Kalmar Nyckel Building, 1124 E. 7th Street, a fascinating facility rich in Delaware maritime heritage. Archaeologist Wade Catts of South River Heritage Consulting will speak.
Sunday, April 16
11 a.m. Staybridge checkout time.
An Unexpected Honneur
By Jeff Lambert, W3R-VA
As an active member of the W3R-VA executive board, it is safe to say you get plenty of opportunities to collaborate with not only American organizations with close ties to the American War for Independence but French as well. Living here in the midst of all the historic sites in Tidewater Virginia (Gloucester Point, Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown, to name just a few), there is a strong draw for all parties involved with the 1781 siege to spend time here.
Most of us are familiar with the Society of the Cincinnati, Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution being descendants of our patriot ancestors. Perhaps not as well known yet equally important and dedicated to remembering our French allies are groups that have a strong presence, particularly at Yorktown Day (Oct. 19) ceremonies. The American Friends of Lafayette have not only participated in organization of the events on Yorktown Day but have erected statues of Washington, Rochambeau, Lafayette and de Grasse in the middle of Yorktown. Another organization that has not been as large a presence in manpower is that of the Souvenir Français, which funded the installation of a beautiful granite monument on the battlefield at Yorktown. The monument is dedicated to the French soldiers and sailors who gave that last full measure for the independence of the colonies and thus sealed the creation of the first alliance with the newly formed United States.
As mentioned earlier, it is not hard to get involved with organizations related to this historic event. In 2021 I was asked to stand in for a friend to present a bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (date of death July 6, 1781) in Jamestown. It was with that event I had the opportunity to work with, and become friends with, Thierry Chaunu, President of the Souvenir Français in the United States.
After that event I was asked to assist in an event to dedicate a marker for Major Pierre L’Enfant at Arlington National Cemetery. As L’Enfant was an officer during the American War for Independence, I was charged with contacting the various hereditary societies related to the Revolutionary War. I also invited Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears of Virginia to attend. Not only did she join us to deliver a powerful speech; she was very gracious to join us watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown.
Definitely on a roll now, I worked on several programs leading up to the 2022 Yorktown Day. Included in these were the exploration of the French burial ground in Colonial Williamsburg, policing the grounds of the French Unknowns and teaming with folks to plant nearly 100 mums at the French Memorial, both in Yorktown.
With all that, Yorktown took place with various ceremonies, parades, banquets and speakers. The dedication ceremony for the new marker to Admiral de Grasse was particularly special as it was under his leadership that the Chesapeake Bay was closed off and Lord Cornwallis’ fate was sealed. One of the benefits of being a part of W3R is the knowledge that all roads lead to Yorktown.
After we said our au revoirs it was back to a quiet life of getting ready for the holidays and year’s end when out of the blue I received a package with a return address, American Society of Le Souvenir Français. In the package was a letter from Thierry Chaunu citing the events that created the bond we now share and the Médaille d’Honneur du Souvenir Français.
“You have been and continue to be a great friend to our organization, promoting the shared history and friendship between the United States and France,” the letter read in part. “Your tireless efforts to honor the French presence in Virginia during the Revolutionary War, including your ongoing search for the discovery of additional places of burials in Williamsburg, command our utmost respect.”
I admitted that, as my namesake entered the new nation of the United States in 1786 from France, I have always had an affinity for my old home.
Besides Thierry Chaunu, the American Revolution Round Table here of which I am President will be hosting Drs. Iris de Rode and Robert Selig to tell us in greater detail the important part our French allies played in securing our freedom.
Jeff Lambert lives with his wife in Hayes, VA, across the York River from Yorktown. He took part in the activities of the Bicentennial, including Yorktown in 1981, when Presidents Ronald Reagan and François Mitterrand were in attendance. He is a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, Sons of the Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution. Since moving to Virginia, he has become active with the Williamsburg-Yorktown American Revolution Round Table and American Friends of Lafayette as well as W3R. He helped craft a resolution to make March 14 Lafayette Day in Virginia and modify the Standards of Learning in Virginia to guarantee that the story of Lafayette be taught. He thinks that the W3R story is nothing less than a miracle and firmly believes “All roads lead to Yorktown.”
W3R, Volkssport Turn to Trail to Promote Walking, Cycling
Since September 2022, the W3R-US and Virginia state associations have partnered with the American Volkssport Association (AVA), also known as America’s Walking Club, to promote walking and cycling opportunities along the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail. Participants are now eligible for a new medal honoring their accomplishments.
The Volkssport community, a new member of W3R, is committed to providing popular sport events along the Trail corridor and at historic sites associated with the events of 1781-82.
A national medal has just been released as an award for all who walk or cycle at least one AVA Trail event along the WARO corridor. The neck medal award is based on the National Park Service’s logo for the Trail. When shown the final medal produced from the design he approved, Trail Administrator Johnny Carawan exclaimed, “Well done, those look great!”
“Volkssports” is organized popular sport events done in social settings or as an individual participant along approved trails hosted by more than 190 local clubs in the United States and thousands more in over 40 countries around the world. The national membership and leaders gathered recently in San Antonio, where they were briefed on the relationship. The AVA Board of Directors posed with the WARO trail sign as a pledge to support the development of recreational opportunities along the historic corridor that engage the participant in an interactive learning environment.
Participants purchase logbooks for a nominal cost that cover the award and postage. Each AVA event has a unique stamp that is collected to show successful accomplishment of a 3- or 6-mile experience. All participants have until Dec. 31, 2031, to complete the effort.
The Virginia Volkssport Association has created its own logbook and state program to further opportunities in that state. Participants will receive a Virginia pin to be worn on the national medal ribbon for accomplishing 14 Virginia events. Other states are following the lead and creating their own programs. For more details on this program and to see where weekend “traditional” or year-round trails are available for credit, please visit: www.walkvirginia.org/wash-roch
– Tim Miner, President, Virginia Volkssport Association
Membership Memo: Time to Re-enlist or Join
It’s membership renewal time!
Now is the time that we cordially invite our members to renew your membership for 2023! We also invite all readers who are not members to considering joining us.
To make an online payment for your membership dues, please go to: W3R-US Membership or print out the form and mail it with a check. The different membership categories are: Individual, Group/Organization, Corporate, and Municipality.
Thank you to members who have already renewed your membership. It’s heartwarming to know that W3R has such talented and terrific supporters among our growing membership ranks.
To our lifetime members, your investment of the lifetime dues you made continues to sustain the work of W3R-US. Thank you for your generosity and belief in W3R-US.
Your dues and donations to the Association are tax deductible.
– Julie Diddell, National Membership Committee Chair
W3R Advocate for Trail During Capitol Hill Trek
Hike the Hill, the annual Congressional advocacy effort for funding for trails, held Feb. 12-17, was more successful than ever. Sessions with representatives of Senate and House members averaged about 30 minutes, with a 20-minute slide presentation and a 10-minute discussion. There was a great deal of interest in the W3R-US Values Committee. … I have sent follow-up letters to all House and Senate signers (about 25 total) of recent “Dear Colleague” letters to encourage increased funding for the Trail. I also noted some funding inequity among trails, with some smaller trails traversing fewer states receiving larger appropriations than WARO. … And I noted that hours worked by W3R volunteers, currently valued at $32.19 per hour by the Independent Sector, are outpacing paid work hours by nearly 5:1. … National Corresponding Secretary Elaine Lawton reported that the overall response by staffers she met was positive, with particular interest in what benefits the Trail can bring to their districts and states.
– Larry Abell, National Chair
Tracking Volunteer Service
Director Sam Meredith, who compiles the volunteer hours worked by W3R-US members, encourages state and committee chairs, as well as individuals, to report at least an estimate of their hours monthly, if possible, even if they have not been reporting regularly. Hours include meetings, phone calls, advocacy, research, planning, events, travel and reading emails and documents from the national office, among other items, both national and state/local, and the totals affect efforts to obtain grants and other external support for W3R-US. Sam’s template includes space for donations in kind (such as office space and computer use). Please email your monthly reports to Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org by the fifth of the following month.
An Invitation: Visit Our Online Store
Director Sam Meredith, Chair of the Earned Income Committee, invites shoppers to visit the W3R-US online store. The newest merchandise includes logo shirts and pens.
Suggestions for merchandise should be sent to Sam at email@example.com
To visit the online store: https://w3rus.qbstores.com/a/login
From the Editor
I hope you continue to enjoy The Bulletin and find it helpful in keeping abreast of the activities of The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association on numerous fronts. Thank you for your input, assistance, suggestions, comments and other kind words. To keep up with all news of our Association, please check our Web site regularly: www.w3r-us.org
State leaders are invited to provide information by the end of each month about their activities, which are presented in a separate section of The Bulletin. (Please see the reports beginning on Page 8.)
Your comments, suggestions and questions are welcome. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Jeff Canning, National Recording Secretary
Help Share the News
The Bulletin is currently emailed to nearly 300 recipients each month but there is always room for more. Do you know or work with somebody who might be interested in reading about the many activities of W3R-US and its state groups? If so, please send me their names and emails (sorry, The Bulletin is online only) and I will add them to the mailing list. Please see my email address above. Thanks for helping share the good news about W3R-US.
Upcoming Trail Events
For more information about Trail events, please visit https://w3r-us.org/events/
Rhode Island: Translation of Orderly Book Funded
W3R-US and the Battle of Rhode Island Association (BoRIA) have commissioned Historian Dr. Robert A. Selig to research and translate sections of the Comte de Rochambeau’s Livre d’ordre, the Orderly Book for his army during its stay in Newport, RI, from July 1780 to June 1781. The book contains daily Morning Reports, Garrison Orders and General Orders.
Dr. Selig’s research will investigate Rochambeau’s commands in the Orderly Book concerning the French expansion of Butts Hill Fort in Portsmouth, RI.
Besides the entries in the Orderly Book, accounts of the work on, and descriptions of, Butts Hill Fort by other French officers and engineers reporting to Rochambeau also exist. Many of these accounts still await translation and publication.
Dr. Selig will focus primarily on entries in the Orderly Book and accounts involving the construction of defense preparations at Butts Hill Fort after the British abandoned it. This knowledge will help guide the restoration of the fort to what it looked like in 1781. To learn more about the fort, please visit: https://battleofrhodeisland.org/about/
Grant to fund research: The BoRIA has received a $10,000 grant from Americana Corner’s Preserving America Grant Program. The grant will be used in part to fund needed archaeological research of the original Butts Hill Fort earthworks before restoration can begin, said Dr. Murray Norcross, BoRIA grant adviser. “Work in developing the master plan of maintenance and care of Butts Hill Fort continues as we inch closer to understanding what we will need to achieve this,” he said.
Americana Corner was founded by Tom Hand in 2020 as an online resource to help others rediscover America’s incredible founding and first century of expansion. For more information, please visit: www.americanacorner.com
Web partnership: The BoRIA has formed a Web partnership with the Rhode Island State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The partnership will be an exchange of educational and historical information as well as sharing local DAR events and happenings. DAR members have participated in several cleanups at Butts Hill Fort. “Partnering with the DAR helps both organizations jointly meet our goals and missions to preserve our American heritage,” said Dr. Murray Norcross, BoRIA grant adviser. “Partnering through each other’s Web site helps us to leverage the strengths of both the DAR and BoRIA.”
British occupation focus of article: Aquidneck Island today is a beautiful isle with sweeping vistas of land and sea, majestic Gilded Age mansions, quaint shops and humming wharves – but not so 250 years ago, when British and German forces occupied it for nearly three years during the Revolutionary War. Rhode Island author and lecturer Fred Zillian, Ph.D., has written an article exclusively for the BoRIA, Life on Aquidneck Island during the British Occupation, 1776-1779. This is the 12th in a continuing series of articles penned for the BoRIA by Rhode Island historians. It can be found here: https://battleofrhodeisland.org/the-battle-of-rhode-island-life-on-aquidneck/
– Jim Stearns, Adviser/Public Relations, BoRIA
New Jersey: Black History Month Celebrated
To mark Black History Month along the Trail, W3R-NJ Chair Julie Diddell presented the Westfield Neighborhood Council (WNC) with a WARO poster and copies of the Don Troiani prints of African American soldiers from the 1st Rhode Island Regiment and the 6th Connecticut Regiment for display in the WNC’s community center.
“The Westfield Neighborhood Council is grateful to W3R-NJ for helping the young visitors to our center learn about the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail and that these images of the African American soldiers are part of our Black History Month celebration,” said Mary Withers, Events Chairperson for the WNC.
Planning for 2023 and beyond: W3R-NJ’s Board is continuing its planning for 2023 events and endeavoring to strengthen the organization for the long term after the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.
W3R-NJ Treasurer Galina Chernikova presented the Board with an overview of budgeting principles and practices that she suggested W3R-NJ explore.
“Our work as a Board has to be to set W3R-NJ on a path for when we current Board members pass the torch to the next generation in addition to creating the partnerships and conducting our special events this year and up through the 250th,” said W3R-NJ Chair Julie Diddell. “We meet monthly on Zoom as a Board and we speak with and email each other often in between to do our work. In fact, as a Board, in January, we contributed over 250 volunteer hours to W3R-US/W3R-NJ. That number of volunteer hours will increase dramatically as our work with event planning escalates in the coming months.”
– Julie Diddell, State Chair
Connecticut: Recalling Col. Wadsworth
W3R-US Vice Chair Bruce Donald will reprise his role as Col. James Wadsworth in a series of historical re-enactments for the entirety of Farmington’s fourth-grade social studies classes to be held over a period of weeks in March and April at our partner site on Rochambeau’s route, the Stanley Whitman House, https://www.s-wh.org/. Wadsworth, a lawyer by trade, served as a colonel and later as a major general during the Revolutionary War and for a time was a member of the Continental Congress.
Delaware: Church Display, Outreach, Presentations
W3R-DE shared the history of African American recipients of the Medal of Honor with a display of photos and other material at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Wilmington as part of its continuing outreach to the African American community along the Trail. St. Joseph’s, which stands alongside the Trail, is the oldest African American Roman Catholic church in Delaware. The Medal of Honor, first awarded during the Civil War, is the nation’s highest military award.
In another outreach effort, W3R-DE has been sharing research from former W3R-US Vice Chair Robert Reyes with our new Hispanic Revolutionary War history supporters in Wilmington, Newark and Dover. Our goal is to develop murals of Hispanic soldiers in Delaware’s Hispanic communities, similar to those in Wilmington’s Brandywine Village of African American soldiers. We are pursuing a grant for murals in the area of Fourth and Adams Streets in the neighborhood of St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church, where troops encamped in 1781.
State Chair Bill Conley made two presentations Feb. 9 about the history of the Trail. He spoke at a luncheon of the Delaware Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars and that evening addressed more than 75 people at Baymont Over 55 Community in Odessa.
The next day he met with supervisors at the historic Cooch home, south of Newark, to discuss future Trail events. The building, which is currently being restored, stands along the Trail near the site of the 1777 Battle of Cooch’s Bridge and was acquired a few years ago by the state Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs.
– Bill Conley, State Chair
New York: More Grants for Odell House; Follow the French May 20
We started the year with news of more funding for the Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters. Thanks to the advocacy of Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, leader of the State Senate, and former Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, the Town of Greenburgh received two $500,000 grants.
“I am happy to announce a new capital grant of $500,000 that I secured to support the restoration and renovation of the Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters that played such an important role in the Revolutionary War,” Sen. Stewart-Cousins said. “It had been in a state of continuous disrepair, unprotected and vandalized for over 30 years until the Town of Greenburgh assumed ownership in 2020. Since then, with my support, the Town has received other state funding to renovate this historical structure. I applaud the formation of The Friends of OHRH and its leadership who have led the charge and done so much to restore the property so it can be turned into a public museum by 2026 in celebration of our country’s 250th anniversary.”
Enslaved people at the Odell House: An essay that tells the story of the relationship between the Odell family and the four enslaved people living on the farm in Greenburgh from 1800 to 1830 is now posted on our Web site. This project took more than a year to complete and involved the research talents of Emily Yankowitz, American History Ph.D. candidate at Yale University (whose work was funded by a grant from the Westchester County Board of Legislators), and primary researchers Dan Weinfeld, OHRH Board member, and Susan Seal, President of OHRH. We conducted extensive research about the individuals enumerated in the census. While we found little specific information about these people, we were able to draw conclusions about their lives from other narratives and from the physical space of OHRH. We are optimistic that other sources of information will become available, and we will be able to update the story; we welcome comments and more information from other scholars.
House in new book about Revolution: In 2021 Bob Thompson contacted Susan Seal, President of OHRH, and asked to see the house for a book he was writing about important sites of the Revolutionary War and how their physical properties contributed to our victory. Revolutionary Roads: Searching for the War That Made America Independent … and All the Places It Could Have Gone Terribly Wrong has just been published and Chapter 21 begins with his visit to OHRH. To learn more about the book, please visit the publisher’s Website.
Save the date: On May 20 the Friends of Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters will welcome the public to our site as part of the Follow the French tour of three important places where the French forces encamped in Westchester in 1781. The French arrived first in North Castle/Armonk, then came to OHRH and then marched to present-day Yorktown (New York) on their way to Yorktown, Virginia. Each location will be part of the May 20 event, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. More details will be announced soon.
– Susan Seal, Board President, Friends of Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters █