A monthly publication of The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association
July 2022 On the Web: www.w3r-us.org Vol. 2, No. 7
Arrival of French Forces Celebrated in Rhode Island
Emphasizing the importance of French aid to the United States, National Chair Larry Abell was one of the speakers during A Celebration of General Rochambeau and the French Troops in Newport July 9 at the Rochambeau statue on the Rhode Island city’s waterfront. The commemoration of the July 1780 arrival of French ships with Rochambeau’s army was a highlight of a four-day living history celebration, The French in Newport Weekend 2022.
“While there was no fanfare when Rochambeau stepped on the shore here, this was a world-changing event. A bond evolved between France and the United States that continues to this day. In modern terms, the French soldiers coming ashore here in 1780 was equivalent to the landing at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, during World War II,” said Larry, who led a W3R-US delegation that included Vice Chair Bruce Donald and Corresponding Secretary Elaine Lawton.
As a managing partner of the Trail with the National Park Service, Larry said, it is the vision of W3R-US to:
- Connect and conserve the Trail – through education, recreation, increased signage and other ways to alert people about its existence and to make sure it is accessible.
- Strengthen the Trail communities (many of which have fallen into economic depression) – through the Founding Cities Stimulus Proposal developed by Director Brad Fay.
- Expand the relevance of our national story for today and future generations – by including the stories of ALL ethnic groups and nationalities that contributed to the independence of the United States.
Several thousand French troops spent nearly a year in the Newport area before leaving in June 1781 to join the Continental Army for the march to Yorktown, Virginia, where the allied victory over the British in October effectively determined the outcome of the Revolutionary War in favor of independence for the United States.
The weekend was sponsored by the Newport Historical Society, the Alliance Française and the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail. Other activities on the agenda included a French-themed culinary adventure, historical displays and opportunities to engage with re-enactors ranging from Generals Washington and Rochambeau to French soldiers and ordinary citizens. A hand-sewn replica of Washington’s tent was on display, thanks to the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.
The consensus of W3R-US members attending was that the presence of the Association needs to be expanded at what in recent years has become a major annual event. Opportunities include networking with likeminded individuals and organizations and sharing information about the Trail and the work of W3R-US.
More Scenes from French in Newport Weekend
Research Fund Named for W3R-US Director
The Hudson River Valley Institute (HRVI) has established a student research fund in recognition of its founding executive director as he retires this year.
The fund recognizes retired U.S. Army Colonel James M. “Jim” Johnson, a director of W3R-US, and his wife, Lois S. Johnson, both longtime advocates for, and supporters of, Hudson River Valley history. Establishment of the fund coincides with the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the HRVI, which is based at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.
“As an endowed fund, the Johnson Student Research Fund offers supporters the opportunity to contribute to student success at Marist in a way that will live in perpetuity and make a meaningful impact for students well into the future,” according to an email statement from Andy Villani, interim HRVI executive director. “The fund will allow students from a variety of economic backgrounds to have equal access to the enrichment potential that comes from a fully realized internship experience with HRVI.”
Many of the institute’s intern alumni and alumnae cite their internship experiences as a trans-formative time in their development from undergraduates to professionals, Mr. Villani said. “Working with the HRVI staff is the first time many Marist students put their classroom educa-tion to use in a professional setting, producing materials that are utilized to promote various dimensions of Hudson River Valley history or published in a variety of potential formats.”
Colonel Johnson served 30 years in the Army after graduating in 1969 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, to which he later returned as a member of the history faculty. He continued his work with Hudson River Valley history and the Washington-Rochambeau route in civilian life after retiring from the Army in 1999. He was one of the early advocates for the Trail, which was formally established in 2009, served as military historian of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and served as a re-enactor in the 5th New York Regiment. In retirement, the Johnsons have relocated to Kentucky.
To learn more about Colonel Johnson, please visit: https://www.thayerleadership.com/people/faculty/colonel-james-johnson-phd
To learn more about the Johnson Fund and to donate, please visit: www.hudsonrivervalley.org/johnsonstudentfund
Yorktown Day Activities to Include Dedication of Marker
Dedication of a historical marker emphasizing the essential role of the French navy at Yorktown will be a highlight of the 2022 Yorktown Day observance in Virginia. The marker, honoring Admiral de Grasse and the French navy and sponsored by the American Society of Le Souvenir Français, will stand on the Riverwalk and is scheduled to be dedicated during an afternoon ceremony Monday, Oct. 18, with W3R-US and W3R-VA participating.
Earlier that day, the fall W3R-US Board Meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to noon in person in the East Room in York Hall, 301 Main St., Yorktown, with an online hookup for Board members who are unable to attend in person or are uncomfortable doing so. The online component will also facilitate a shift to an all-virtual session if necessary. Please watch your email for the link and agenda.
This year’s Yorktown Day program will mark the 241st anniversary of the allied victory over the British, who surrendered Oct. 19, 1781. Highlights, subject to change, will include:
Tuesday, Oct. 18
6 p.m., dinner, American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, $75 per person. Speaker: Julien Icher, administrator of the Lafayette Trail (the Marquis’ Farewell Tour of the United States in 1824/25)
Wednesday, Oct. 19
8:45 a.m., wreath-laying ceremony at French Cemetery
9:15 a.m., wreath-laying and commemorative ceremony at French Memorial
11 a.m., parade along Main Street
11:45 a.m., patriotic exercises and ceremony at the Monument to Alliance and Victory. Speaker: Dr. Robert Selig, W3R-US Historian
A reception will follow at the Customs House on Main Street, $35 per person
Invitations and reservation forms will be sent after Labor Day. As always, I will be happy to help you with your plans to attend. Please let me know if you wish to march in the parade, which is about one mile. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Nicole Yancey, Franco-American Committee Chair
Leadership Council’s Buck, Mills Launch Podcast
The first storybook about an African American Revolutionary War hero was published on Flag Day, June W3R-US Leadership Council members Elaine Buck and Beverly Mills, authors of If These Stones Could Talk, have launched a podcast series, Lifting the Veil. They are interviewing individuals who are interested in exploring some of the facets of American history that we never learned about in school or that bring new perspectives to what we were taught.
They recently interviewed W3R-US Director Brad Fay about his work to promote heritage tourism and infrastructure improvements for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, perhaps the least known of all the national historic trails outside of scholarly circles and lineage organizations. To listen to the interview, please visit:
Washington-Rochambeau is not a scenic trail like the Appalachian but instead the most urban of all the national trails. It runs through many majority-minority communities and small towns and is primarily a driving trail. Brad advocates for more grass-roots participation and involvement from within these trail communities whose ancestors also played a role in the march to Yorktown and the War for Independence.
He advocates for additional funds for infrastructure and awareness within these communities to support their particular environments and local economic needs and pride in place, whether walkable sidewalks, trees, public art, interpretive signage or just letting the communities know they, too, were important parts of the United States’ hard-won freedom from British rule. Without the involvement of these communities, whose ancestors were brothers at arms with the white forces, the call to bear witness together to the founding principles will ring hollow and false to them in the upcoming 250th commemoration of the Declaration of Independence in 2026.
People are amazed to learn that the revolutionary forces were not all white in the Revolutionary War. Rosters give one count of the persons of color in the war but an eyewitness entry in French Major General Baron Ludwig von Closen’s diary on July 4, 1781, on the field at White Plains, New York, said their force was 25%. Brad, a self-described “citizen historian,” looks beyond the roster counts, based on von Closen’s observation, to say the minority fighting force actually on the field at any point in time included as many as 25% persons of color – based on the longer lengths of service by African Americans.
Whatever the numbers, Elaine and Beverly are lifting the veil on the diversity of the brothers at arms in the War for Independence in this series.
German Life Magazine Recognizes Award to Dr. Selig
The August-September edition of German Life Magazine contains an article, reprinted below, about the nomination of Dr. Robert Selig, W3R-US Historian and a frequent contributor to the LaVale, MD-based publication, for the rank of knight in the French National Order of Merit. This prestigious honor recognizes his eminent work on the crucial French contribution to U.S. independence and in the development of the Washington-Rochambeau Trail. The medal is scheduled to be presented to Dr. Selig during this year’s Yorktown Day ceremonies in Yorktown, VA, Oct. 19.
Welcome to all of our new members! Thank you to all of our renewing members!
W3R-US has bestowed a remarkable and groundbreaking membership to Dwaine C. Perry, Principal Chief of the Ramapough-Lenape Nation, whose lands encompass parts of New Jersey as well as New York, and to the greater Ramapo Munsee Lunape Network.
New York State Chair Janet Lee Burnett and W3R-US Executive Director Ellen von Karajan worked together to ensure this very important membership is one of respect and honor to Chief Perry, his Nation and the Network so these original inhabitants can work with W3R-US to research and tell the story of “Protecting the Pass” of the Hudson Highlands (New York/New Jersey) mountains where Continental troops moved between the states.
Check out this video advice from Chief Perry: Respect our Earth
– Julie Diddell, National Membership Committee Chair, Janet Lee Burnet, Ellen von Karajan
W3R-US Endorses Bill Seeking Parity for Trails
W3R-US has joined more than 15 other trail organizations in supporting legislation introduced June 22 by Rep. Mark Pocan, D-WI, to increase funding access and improve maintenance for three National Scenic Trails. The National Scenic Trails Parity Act, which has bipartisan support, is designed to aid the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, the North Country National Scenic Trail, both in Wisconsin, and the New England National Scenic Trail. All three are part of the National Park System but lack full unit status, which limits access to federal funding and other support.
“These trails are invaluable natural resources that provide … unique outdoor experiences and economic opportunities,” Rep. Pocan said in a press release. “These trails have been particularly valuable during the Covid-19 pandemic when outdoor recreation became essential for physical and mental well-being. This bill will level the playing field for some of the nation’s most beautiful trails.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, has introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
W3R-US Executive Director Ellen von Karajan was quoted in the press release as saying: “Just as ‘all men are created equal,’ I believe it was the intent of the National Trails Act that all of our trails were also meant to be ‘created equal.’ Our sister trails who do not have parity are hampered in their effectiveness, are not eligible to compete for certain funds for important projects they are well qualified to undertake and are denied important benefits allowed to other trails. Granting parity – leveling the playing field for all trails – isn’t just ‘equitable,’ it’s an investment that will produce real and lasting results.”
In sharing the release with the Executive Committee, Ellen added, “In keeping with our goal of ‘getting the [Washington Rochambeau] Trail’s name out there,’ I try never to miss an opportunity, plus we need all the friends we can muster in Congress.”
From the Executive Committee
Economic impact analysis: Michele Archie of The Harbinger Consultancy is conducting an economic impact analysis of the Trail. Michelle, who spoke at Trail Administrator Johnny Carawan’s Countdown to 2026 programs in April and May, is gathering data and translating economic value so that it can be understood and leveraged for informing and sharing value to stakeholders and the community.
Travel app: Executive Director Ellen von Karajan reports that all scripts from Dr. Iris de Rode and Dr. Robert Selig have been submitted to the editor. Attention is now being turned to brief descriptions of non-narrated sites. Consultant Michelle Powell is preparing the non-history text. Audio work will begin after a final review. A prototype is expected to be shared shortly with state chairs. Ellen reminded everybody that the app is for a driving trail, not the historic trail.
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 memogroup1127@admin
To visit the online store: https://w3rus.qbstores.com/a/login
In another online shopping matter, you can support W3R-US when you shop at Amazon. Here’s how. Instead of going to amazon.com:
- Enter smile.amazon.com in your browser address bar.
- Shop and place your order.
- Amazon will donate a percentage of your order to W3R-US
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 email@example.com by the fifth of the following month.
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 for the following month’s edition) about their activities, which are presented in a separate section of The Bulletin. (Please see the reports beginning on Page 17.)
Your comments, suggestions and questions are welcome. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
– Jeff Canning, National Recording Secretary
Upcoming Trail Events
For more information about Trail events, please visit https://w3r-us.org/events/
New Jersey: W3R at Events in Westfield, Trenton, Somerville
July has been a month packed with new experiences for W3R-NJ, starting with our July 1 dinner celebration of Rochambeau’s 297th birthday, attended by friends who have come to appreciate the W3R mission and the contributions of Comte de Rochambeau. We also had the opportunity to work with Westfield resident Kendall Robertson, a rising senior at Bucknell University with dual majors in History and French. Kendall worked with W3R-NJ Chair Julie Diddell to share Rochambeau’s story with the audience at the July 4 annual Independence Day event at the Westfield Historical Society. Kendall has begun the journey of becoming a living historian by adopting the impression of Jeanne-Therese Telles d’Acosta, comtesse de Rochambeau. “Through the comtesse’s voice, Kendall talked about the Trail and General Rochambeau. The audience was enchanted with her in the gold-colored robe à la française she wore,” Julie reports. Expect more news about Kendall as W3R-NJ supports her immersion into her role and her in-depth learning about the Trail.
Trenton: The 1719 Trent House Museum, a Trail historic site in Trenton, hosted Dr. Iris de Rode July 9 as she spoke about the Marquis de Chastellux’s journal writings during his visit to Trenton in 1781 to research the 1776 battle.
Her presentation was part of the city’s Liberty Weekend July 8-10.
“This very successful hybrid virtual and in-person presentation was enjoyed by over 100 people,” said Sam Stephens, Trent House Museum Association Executive Director and W3R-US Leadership Council member.
Somerville: “History on the Green: Washington-Rochambeau Pop-Up Encampment” took place July 30 in downtown Somerville on the lawn of the historic Somerset County Courthouse.
Living historians portraying Generals Washington, Rochambeau and Chastellux were joined by Heard’s Militia, New Jersey Fifes and Drums, the Cannon Brigade of the New Jersey Sons of the American Revolution and the 1st Rhode Island Regiment.
The day included troop inspections, firing drills and hourly cannon firing. An estimated 1,000 people passed through the encampment during the six hours it was open.
W3R-NJ not only had a table with Trail maps of New Jersey but also had volunteers guide children to color pictures of French and Continental soldiers, after which the pictures were imprinted using Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail stamps.
W3R-NJ volunteers also handed out youth-size W3R T-shirts, which the children then took to the generals to have them autograph the shirts for the awe-struck children and their parents.
Much thanks goes to W3R-NJ Board members Galina Chernikova for providing many hours of distant volunteer hours to revise the W3R-NJ brochure used at the event; Tom D’Amico for his volunteer hours to coordinate the Militia, Cannon Brigade and W3R-NJ participation; Eric Diddell for his volunteer hours on the day of the event to set up and break down equipment; Mary Swarbrick and Kevin Sullivan for their volunteer hours to staff the W3R-NJ table to provide information and sign up new members; to Brad Fay for providing marketing assistance; and to members Catherine Paretti and Diane Mcvey for managing the activity table to give the kids a fun and joyful experience.
August events will include four consecutive days of events at five different Trail sites/Trail communities for which partners have worked with W3R-NJ for the past year to produce the events. For more information, please see the fliers in the Upcoming Trail Events section. And please regularly visit our Web site: http://www.w3r-nj.org/
– Julie Diddell, State Chair
New York: Memorial Service for French Soldiers…
Past President Jeff Canning led the Van Cortlandtville Historical Society’s July 3 memorial service for the eight French soldiers who died in that community during the Revolutionary War. The annual service, continuing a tradition that began in 2001, was held at Old Saint Peter’s Church and featured a background talk by Jeff, who is also recording secretary of W3R-US; a musket salute by uniformed re-enactors; a mourn arms ceremony; and a bilingual prayer offered by Gerry Dempsey, secretary of the historical society.
French forces used the Anglican church as a military hospital in 1781 and 1782 when they were in the area before and after the victory of Generals Washington and Rochambeau over the British in Yorktown, Virginia, in October 1781. The causes of death of the soldiers are unknown but diseases such as dysentery and food poisoning are leading suspects, given the unsanitary and unhygienic conditions of military life and the limits of medical care at that time. Ongoing research indicates that seven of the men remain buried in unmarked graves near the church while the body of the eighth, an officer who was a member of the provincial French nobility, eventually was returned to France for burial.
… Jackson Inducted into Veterans Hall of Fame
Duane M. Jackson, a Director of W3R-US who thwarted a potential terrorist attack in New York City a dozen years ago, has been inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame. He was nominated by state Sen. Peter Harckham on behalf of the 40th Senate District and inducted during a June 22 ceremony in Buchanan, where he has lived for three decades and once served on the village Board of Trustees.
Duane served in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger in the Pacific during the Vietnam War and achieved the rank of E3 Airman. Following his service, he has been a tireless advocate for veterans.
Duane made national headlines in May 2010 when he thwarted a potential terrorist attack in Times Square in Manhattan. While managing his street vendor business May 1, he saw smoke coming from an illegally parked, empty SUV. He and a colleague vendor quickly alerted New York City police; investigators found a propane-and-gasoline bomb inside, which did not explode. The perpetrator was soon arrested, confessed and was sentenced to life in prison.
When asked about his efforts and quick actions, according to a poster on display at the presentation, Duane humbly replied, “Everybody has a responsibility to keep the City safe. … I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, and I am happy that no one was injured in this attempted attack on our City.”
Duane is a re-enactor with the 1st Rhode Island Regiment, a pioneering military unit consisting of African American soldiers fighting as free men in the Revolutionary War.
Maryland: $10,000 Grant Received for Digital Book
A $10,000 grant has been received through the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority-Destination Southern Maryland toward a digital interactive book, The Untold Story of Patriots in the Revolutionary War, subject to completion of paperwork. The budget for the $22,000 project includes $12,000 of in-kind hours for matching funds, Education Committee Chair and W3R-US Corresponding Secretary Elaine Lawton reported to the Executive Committee Aug. 1. Research will be completed in Maryland; media production will take place in California. The book will be available to schools and sites along the Trail. Custom 250th anniversary W3R-US coins will be awarded when students complete the book. The target age group is middle school.
District of Columbia: Rochambeau Represented at DAR Congress
General Rochambeau was well represented at the recent 131st Daughters of the American Revolution Continental Congress at the JW Marriott Hotel in Washington. From left at the Overseas Luncheon and International Bazaar are Catherine Armand, Regent of the Rochambeau Chapter, Paris, France; Elaine Lawton, Vice Regent of the Port Tobacco, Maryland, Chapter and Corresponding Secretary of W3R-US; and Frederique de Beaumont of the Rochambeau Chapter in Paris. The program included reports from Units Overseas Chapter Regents. The Units Overseas Committee acknowledged the commitment to historic preservation, education and patriotism through the service of all Daughters around the world.
Rhode Island: Making the Battle Better Known
Burton C. Quist, who recently agreed to serve as temporary chair of W3R-RI, shared information about the little-known 1778 Battle of Rhode Island during a presentation to the Executive Committee Aug. 1. Burton is also a Director of the Battle of Rhode Island Association (BoRIA), and is a key member of the BoRIA’s efforts to make the battle better known.
The battle, which centered on Butts Hill Fort (commonly called Fort Butts) in Portsmouth, was the first joint French-U.S. operation of the Revolutionary War and the only major combat in Rhode Island during the war. Burton is part of the effort to restore the fort, the largest remaining Revolutionary War earthen fort in southern New England, which was added as a Trail site in early 2021.
A big education push is needed because the battle and the fort are little known, even in Rhode Island, said Burton, who served 28 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and taught at the Naval War College. The BoRIA Web site is scheduled to go live Aug. 29, the anniversary of the battle, with the slogan “The road to Yorktown starts here.”
The Portsmouth site was the command post for the American forces against the British and their Hessian mercenaries during the battle. It later was occupied by French troops as part of the defenses of their main garrison in Newport, about six miles south, and the line of march of General Rochambeau’s forces from Newport to Providence went right past the fort.
Delaware: Veterans to Be Honored at Ceremony in November
An agreement for a Nov. 13 noon ceremony honoring Inner-City Wilmington veterans has been finalized between W3R-DE and St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church. A special display will highlight all African American Medal of Honor recipients from the Civil War onward, and the new Inner-City Youth Colonial Color Guard will participate.
St. Joseph’s, the oldest African American Catholic Church in Delaware, was founded in 1889 and stands in the heart of Wilmington along the Trail.
State Chair Bill Conley is coordinating the ceremony with Loretta Young, parish secretary. Brenda Burns, director of music ministry at the church, is assisting with the color guard. Trail Administrator Johnny Carawan has approved a grant for six student-size uniforms of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment for the color guard, which will perform at W3R-DE ceremonies under the direction of Arnold Tucker of the Old Swedes Church in Wilmington.
… and Wreaths Across America in December
W3R-DE is organizing its second annual inner-city ceremony with Wreaths Across America at Old Swedes Church and Cemetery in Wilmington Saturday, Dec. 17. The 10 a.m. program will honor the 28 Delaware Colonial soldiers buried in marked graves in the cemetery of the congregation, founded by Swedish settlers in the late 17th century and formally known as Holy Trinity Church.
A June 25 event highlighted the connection between the church and the soldiers.
The cemetery is only blocks from Colonial Brandywine Village Plaza. Leone Cahill Krout, the site director, is coordinating the Dec. 17 ceremony with state Chair Bill Conley. Participants will include the new church-supervised Inner-City Youth Colonial Color Guard – part of an ongoing effort to engage inner-city minority young people with events celebrating our nation’s rich history.
As Bill explained in a recent radio interview with Wreaths Across America:
“The Village has a heavy Revolutionary War history with Washington, Lafayette and Greene visiting often in 1777 and 1778. Their goal was to purchase flour from the Quaker millers along the Brandywine River. The Village is now surrounded by a diverse population. However, a significant number of inner-city African American folks do not historically see their culture represented in the Colonial stories. At this point in American history, many of America’s minorities don’t see their culture’s role in the American Revolution, in American history, and that’s sad because the role is there, it just never made the history books. I’m sharing with children, especially minority children in Delaware, stories of unsung heroes of their culture who played a role in the creation of America.”
Bill added that, while the wreath-laying portion of the mission is important at the more rural and spacious cemeteries, much can be gained in urban settings with ceremony-only programs.
“Having ceremonies where minority children can see, and in our case participate in, is a key ingredient to enlighten them and teach them the love and evolution of the American system of government,” he said.
To read the blog post, please visit: https://bit.ly/3dyNNSh
To listen to the entire 19-minute interview, please visit: https://bit.ly/3zZsEIs
W3R-DE is the first Wreaths Across America group to focus on an inner-city population along the Trail and they are very supportive of our initiative. Jeanie Hayes of the Wilmington Senior Center Board assists.
– Bill Conley, State Chair █