A monthly publication of The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association
June 2022 On the Web: www.w3r-us.org Vol. 2, No. 6
Rochambeau Descendant Visits Odell House…
Nathalie de Gouberville, a sixth-generation descendant of Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, and her husband, Philippe, visited several sites associated with her famous ancestor during a May trip to the United States from their home, the Rochambeau chateau in France.
The Friends of Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters welcomed her May 5 to the historic structure in Hartsdale, NY, which served as General Rochambeau’s headquarters during the summer of 1781. Nathalie had heard stories about the house all her life, she said, because her father and grandfather had both visited, and she was delighted finally to see it for herself.
Steve Tilly, architect for the current restoration project, led the de Goubervilles through the house, pointing out the work done to date and previewing the work yet to be completed. Susan Seal, board president of the Friends, explained how the house was altered and expanded over time and how each section is expected to be used when it becomes a museum.
Also touring the house were Douglas Hamilton, sixth great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton (a Founding Father of the United States), and Dr. Robert Selig. Douglas is researching his famous ancestor’s stay in Greenburgh in 1781, including whether he visited the Odell House. Hamilton was in Greenburgh as part of Scammell’s regiment and speaks of reacquainting himself with his French friends while there, according to information Douglas found in a massive set of his ancestor’s letters that he has. Dr. Selig, W3R-US historian, who wrote the pivotal study of the French-American encampment in Westchester County during the summer of 1781, had visited the house about 12 years ago and said he was happy to see the progress made on its restoration.
After the tour, Susan and David Seal hosted a lunch at the Scarsdale Golf Club and updated Westchester County Executive George Latimer about the Odell House when he stopped by. That evening, Jérémie Robert, Consul General of France in New York, hosted a dinner at the Consulate in honor of the de Goubervilles’ visit and to raise funds for the Odell House. The evening included a showing of the Friends’ new 6:23-minute video, Dear France, Thank You! To watch it, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW4m4vQMJWY For more information about the Odell House, please visit www.odellrochambeau.org
… New York City…
The de Goubervilles were special guests the following day, May 6, at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Church of Notre Dame in Manhattan on the occasion of V-E Day and the visit to New York of Contrôleur Général des Armées (2s) Serge Barcellini, Président-Général of Le Souvenir Français.
Notre Dame, the spiritual center of the French-speaking community of New York, is home to a Memorial Wall of Honor listing the names, according to a news release, “of 463 French draftees and American volunteers in the United States, Members of the Lafayette Escadrille and the American Field Service who died for France” in World Wars I and II. Originally installed in 1921 in the Church of St. Vincent de Paul in lower Manhattan, the wall was transferred to Notre Dame in 2018.
Participants in the ceremony included Jérémie Robert, Consul General of France in New York, and Chuck Schwam, COO of the American Friends of Lafayette and a director of W3R-US.
Sponsors of the ceremony were Le Souvenir Français, Federation of French War Veterans, Association of French Reserve Officers in the United States and The French Will Never Forget.
… and Virginia
The de Goubervilles’ final stop during their visit was Virginia, where they visited historic sites on both sides of the York River – including the new statue of General Rochambeau – before flying back to France May 18.
The long-awaited statue of the general was unveiled and dedicated on the Yorktown Riverwalk on Oct. 18, 2021, joining statues of General Washington, Admiral de Grasse and General Lafayette. The de Goubervilles were unable to attend the ceremony because of the pandemic but a video hookup enabled Nathalie to “join” a luncheon afterward from the family chateau in France.
During their May 15 visit they were welcomed to Yorktown by Chuck Schwam, one of the driving forces behind the statue, sculptor Cyd Player and a large crowd of well-wishers. They were thrilled with the statue and its setting.
Across the York River, the de Goubervilles attended the activities of “Gloucester 1776: A Revolutionary Experience,” including a visit to the Gloucester Museum of History, where 4 they were greeted by Director Robert Kelly and by Sam and Dave Meredith, who were staffing the W3R-VA table. Please see the State Report for more information.
Also in Yorktown, they visited the American Revolution Museum before meeting with Jennifer Carver, DAR de Grasse Chapter Historian and a member of W3R-VA, at the historic Customs House. On their final day, they visited historic Smithfield and took the ferry across the James River to Jamestown and Williamsburg.
Contributing to this report on the de Goubervilles’ visit were Susan Seal, board president, Friends of Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters; Nicole Yancey, a director of W3R-US; Dave Meredith, chair of W3R-VA and treasurer of W3R-US; and Jeff Canning, national recording secretary and Bulletin editor.
The Story of the Minor Planet Rochambeau
In December 2014 I gave a talk about W3R in the Longfellow House National Historic Site in Boston at the invitation of Alan Hoffman of W3R-MA. Dr. Richard Binzel from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world’s leading scientists in the study of asteroids, was there and somehow or other the question came up whether there was a star or planet named after General Rochambeau. I did not know but, to make a long story short, Dr. Binzel had a minor planet available and asked me to write a sentence or two about Rochambeau to explain why the planet was named after him. So I did. And that is how Minor Planet 96178 came to be named for the French commander. To learn more about the asteroid, please visit: https://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/tools/sbdb_lookup.html#/?sstr=96178&view=VOP To learn more about Dr. Binzel and his work, please visit https://eapsweb.mit.edu/people/rpb
–Dr. Robert A. Selig, W3R-US Historian
Designer of Capital honored at Arlington Ceremony
National Chair Larry Abell placed a wreath on behalf of W3R-US during a June 14 ceremony rededicating the monument of Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. He and National Corresponding Secretary Elaine Lawton represented our Association at the ceremony, which featured the dedication of a new interpretive sign.
L’Enfant, a French-American military engineer, artist and architect, served on George Washington’s staff during the Revolutionary War and designed the basic plan for Washington, D.C., with its radial street plan and public squares. Recruited to the cause of independence by the powerful and influential Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais, the Parisian native arrived in North America in 1777, was named a captain of engineers the following year at Valley Forge and was commissioned by the Marquis de Lafayette to paint a portrait of the commander in chief.
L’Enfant was wounded during the Battle of Savannah in 1779 and fought the following year while leaning on a crutch during the siege of Charleston. Taken prisoner after the fall of Charleston (which prevented him from serving at Yorktown), he was released in 1782 and returned to New York’s Hudson Highlands with the Continental Army. He was honorably discharged in 1783 after being promoted to Major of Engineers.
His postwar career as an architect, in addition to designing the capital of the new nation, included redesigning and expanding New York’s City Hall into Federal Hall, which hosted the First Congress and the swearing in of George Washington as president in 1789. Plagued by financial troubles, he died destitute June 14, 1825, and was buried in an obscure grave in Prince George’s County, MD. After eventual recognition of his contributions to the capital, his remains were moved to Arlington in 1909. The honorary U.S. citizen’s new burial site overlooks the portion of the “Federal City” that he originally designed.
Le Souvenir Français and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution were the driving forces behind the creation of the new marker and the Flag Day ceremony, which attracted more than 200 people.
New Book Features African American Patriot from Maryland
The first storybook about an African American Revolutionary War hero was published on Flag Day, June 14, 2022. The Story of Mr. Thomas Carney – A Maryland Patriot of the American Revolutionary War, by Steven Xavier Lee, geared to readers age 11 and up and “all of the young at heart,” is described in a news release as “a ceiling-breaking new work in American literature … a classic tale and fresh perspective into the life and times of this important era. An illustrated documentary dramatization, based on the actual military record of an under-represented Black soldier, this is the premiere storybook on Maryland’s African American Revolutionary War patriots and free Black community, a dimension that has traditionally been excluded in public history and education.”
Thomas Carney, a free African American, enlisted early in the war and served for its duration in both the Maryland Line and Continental Army. He fought in many campaigns, including in Pennsylvania and the Carolinas. Through the focus of his family and military tenure, readers gain a better understanding of his times from a diverse cultural view. The narrative is filled with historical facts and events from African-, European- and Native-American culture.
Steven Xavier Lee, a native of Baltimore, was formerly an instructor at the University of Maryland, assistant curator for the Baltimore Office of the Mayor and founding director of the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum in Catonsville. He is currently a commissioner of the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture.
“With rhyme of word and vivid color artwork, this charming book is a long overdue addition to the legacy of the American story, for readers young and old alike,” according to the release.
The Story of Mr. Thomas Carney is available, in hardcover, paperback and ebook formats, at the Archway Publishing Bookstore, https://www.archwaypublishing.com/en/bookstore. It is also available at major booksellers.
Welcome to all of our new members! Thank you to all of our renewing members!
This month we are pleased to welcome back as a member, Carol Greene from Mahwah, NJ. Carol was the driving force in marking the Trail in the Mahwah area in 2004 and she supported The Marchers as they passed through town on the way to Yorktown, VA. Carol lives on her family farm, Sun Valley Farm, which is on the Trail on Ramapo Valley Road in Mahwah. Julie Diddell visited with Carol at a ceremony for her receiving the Lifetime Achievement in Historic Preservation Award from the Mahwah Historic Preservation Commission. W3R is thrilled to congratulate Carol and looks forward to our future partnership to further recognition and commemoration of the Trail in the greater Mahwah area.
New members are always welcome and membership renewal season continues. Please visit: W3R-US Membership or print the membership form, Individual Membership form W3R-US, and mail it with payment.
– Julie Diddell, National Membership Committee Chair
From the Executive Committee
New York State Co-Chair: At the request of State Chair Janet Lee Burnet, Lynn Briggs, a new Director of W3R-US, has been appointed State Co-Chair.
Audit Committee: National Chair Larry Abell has appointed Ralph Nelson to chair the committee, whose members will include Janet Lee Burnet, Robert Reyes, Joan Sabree and, ex officio, Larry, National Treasurer Dave Meredith and Executive Director Ellen von Karajan.
Scarf for 250th: Larry has appointed a committee, chaired by Sallie de Barcza, to develop a scarf, and possibly a tie, for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026. Committee members include Janet Lee Burnet, Blanche Hunnewell and Catherine Roberts.
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
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 brower 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 – some of
which led to a new feature, Upcoming Trail Events. (Please see the fliers on Pages 9-12.) 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 13.)
Your comments, suggestions and questions are welcome. Please email me at
– Jeff Canning, National Recording Secretary
Upcoming Trail Events
For more information about Trail events, please visit http://w3r-us.org/events/
Virginia: Revolutionary Experience in Gloucester
Members of the W3R-VA Executive Board participated in Gloucester County’s Gloucester 1776: A Revolutionary Experience event the weekend of May 14-15. Rain showers throughout the day interrupted Saturday’s activities but virtually all the re-enactors and exhibiters were able to move inside the first floor and basement, and onto the front porch, of the Gloucester Museum of History. Sunday’s weather was much more accommodating, with sunny, blue skies, which significantly bolstered attendance. Activities included cannon and musket firings, military music, soldier and civilian life, Colonial cooking and activities for children. The W3R-VA exhibit was hosted on Saturday by Sam Meredith, board member, and on Sunday by Amy Parker, board secretary.
A highlight of Saturday was a visit by Nathalie de Gouberville, a direct descendant of General Rochambeau, her husband, Philippe, and Nicole Yancey, past W3R-VA Chair. Robert Kelly, museum director, briefed the distinguished visitors on the town of Gloucester and its Revolutionary War history. W3R-VA Board members spoke with them about the portion of the route – down Main Street, past the Courthouse and the building that now houses the Museum – traveled by Lauzun’s hussars during the Yorktown Campaign.
In observing the W3R exhibit, the de Goubervilles were quite impressed with the Trail pull-up banners and were pleased to learn that Trail Administrator Johnny Carawan has arranged for a 14 set to be sent directly to their home in France. The banners will be displayed at the Rochambeau estate when it is open to the public and also during the yearly “Les Journées du Patrimoine” in September. They will also be on display on July 1, 2025, during a celebration of the 300th anniversary of Rochambeau’s birth. For more information about the de Goubervilles’ visit to the United States, please see the article beginning on Page One.
The Experience was made possible in partnership with the Gloucester Historical Society, Friends of the Museum, 7th Virginia Regiment and Gloucester Parks, Recreation & Tourism.
– Dave Meredith, State Chair
Rhode Island: Web Site to Focus on Battle
The Battle of Rhode Island Association held a very successful “Coffee and Donuts in the Fort” May 21 for local politicians, heritage groups and others interested in the history of Butts Hill Fort (commonly called Fort Butts). It was the first time “The road to Yorktown starts here” was used.
Burton C. Quist, Director of the Association, reports that he is “up to my elbows with the development of our Battle of Rhode Island Web site,” a portion of which will deal with the coming of the French to Rhode Island and their departure for New York and thence to Yorktown. “We want it to tempt folks to visit the Trail” and show site visitors how the Association is part of the larger world of the Trail, he said.
In response to a request from Burton, the Executive Committee of W3R-US has appropriated funds for Trail Historian Dr. Robert Selig to prepare the information about the French forces in Rhode Island, with a deadline of July 31. Dr. Selig did the research that led to Butts Hill Fort, the largest remaining Revolutionary War earthen fort in southern New England, being added as a Trail site in early 2021.
The Portsmouth site was the command post for the American forces against the British and their Hessian mercenaries during the Battle of Rhode Island in August 1778. The fort 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. One reason for the placement of the fort was that it provided observation of the two main ferry landings between Aquidneck Island and the mainland.
New Jersey: Remembering and Sharing Our Heritage
W3R-NJ was out in the community sharing the story of the Trail on several occasions in the past two months. “Getting to meet the public and engaging them in conversations about the multiple routes taken by the Allied troops in August of 1781 on the march to Yorktown, VA, and the role of the individuals in the French-American alliance is one of the most enjoyable aspects of our W3R-NJ volunteer effort,” said State Chair Julie Diddell. “The W3R-NJ board worked hard to plan and coordinate their participation in recent community activities and that effort produced our successful engagement with hundreds of people of all ages and from diverse backgrounds. That’s our mission. That’s what drives us as volunteers.” Among the events:
History Day, May 14, Piscataway (collage above), at our member East Jersey Old Towne’s annual event. We videoed a chat with Frederick Rivard, one of our members, who was also present as a participant in Sheldon’s Horse of the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons from Connecticut. To see the one-minute video, please visit: https://youtu.be/ma
Memorial Day Parade, May 30, Westfield: The photos below showcase youth volunteer Joseph DeSantis of Scotch Plains, a high school junior, who donned a replica circa 1781 French
16 officer’s hat to march alongside W3R-NJ, the West Fields Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, Color Guard and the Westfield Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution. In one photo, Joseph is pictured with his mother, Esther DeSantis, who posed for a photo with him along the parade route. Joseph also helped hand out 300 mini-flyers for the upcoming W3R-NJ-produced third annual March to Yorktown Day on Aug. 28 in Westfield.
Rochambeau’s Birthday, July 1, Westfield: A dinner at Chez Catherine French Restaurant commemorated the 297th anniversary of the French commander’s birth, on July 1, 1725. Ten W3R-NJ enthusiasts attended, including, from left, Eric Diddell, W3R-NJ member; Mike Russell of the Princeton Battlefield Society; Greet Hershey, Catherine Paretti and David Paretti, W3R-NJ members; and Jay Hershey, West Fields Chapter, SAR. All photos in New Jersey section by Julie Diddell.
To keep abreast of developments, please visit our Web site: www.W3R-NJ.org
–Julie Diddell, State Chair
Delaware: Making the Trail Accessible to All in Many Ways
W3R-DE is striving on many fronts to increase the representation of ALL involved cultures in the work of the Trail, including disabled people, ethnic and international communities that do not get the attention they deserve in the struggle for the independence of the United States. The stories of these peoples are part of the larger story of the American Revolution; in too many instances, they just never made it into the history books. These stories need to be shared; too many members of these communities think they have no connection to what they consider somebody else’s fight.
Inclusion has long been a goal of W3R-DE. In recent years we have made tremendous strides in reaching out to our African American history enthusiasts and we continue to do so. More recent outreach efforts include the Hispanic and disabled communities (please see below). If you know of anyone from these groups who may be interested in participating and helping shape the Trail to accommodate their needs, please let me know.
National Chair Larry Abell, commending the Delaware efforts, noted that W3R-US values and planning committees are striving to include these communities as well as Haitians, Cubans and
17 others. Larry noted that federal regulations require equal accessibility for people with disabilities – often difficult to achieve with outdoor activities but not impossible.
W3R-DE Vice Chair Peg Tigue reports that there will be a handicap-accessible bathroom in the new Visitors Center in Brandywine Village in Wilmington and that a walking tour around the various murals in the Village, explaining the participants in the Revolutionary War, is being considered. Another hope is to make accessible one of the nearby historic homes in which Washington and Lafayette stayed.
Reaching out to Hispanics: The first meeting of our new Hispanic American History Committee was held May 25. Its goal will be to share our unsung Hispanic American history with students across Delaware, with emphasis on forgotten heroes of the Revolutionary War. Members include Wilmington City Councilwoman Maria Cabrera, who will form a subcommittee from the greater Delaware Hispanic community; Nancy Lopez, community Hispanic advocate, who volunteered to be the Delaware liaison with W3R-US; Peg Tigue; and me. Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long is monitoring our efforts. Wilmington’s Latino community sits along the Trail in the St. Paul’s Church area.
Reaching out to disabled people: Trail accessibility for disabled people is of personal interest to me. My son Maj. Kevin Conley, a U.S. Army engineer, was 100 percent disabled in a helicopter accident in 2010 during his deployment to Afghanistan and returned a very different young man physically. After nine surgeries, including fusion of his neck, he is learning to adjust to a new lifestyle with his service dog, Angus. His medical challenges include traumatic brain injuries and a numb right leg. So, I wonder, how can Kevin enjoy a segment of the Trail? Where in Delaware could I encourage wounded warriors and other disabled people to walk a segment of the Trail and perhaps learn some Revolutionary War history along the way? I don’t have an answer as yet, as I want to guarantee bathroom and bench availability. But I bet each of the nine Trail states and DC could locate a segment that we could encourage them to visit. As with our other efforts of inclusion, this could be a viable vehicle to reach out to an entirely new segment of people who perhaps haven’t focused on our history. It’s a big challenge but we can do this!
– Bill Conley, State Chair █
Also in Delaware
- Vice Chair Peg Tigue, continuing her efforts to obtain state and city financial support for our new Visitors Center in Brandywine Village in Wilmington, secured a $40,000 donation for a new ADA-accessible entrance to the center in the Colorworks Building.
- Nancy Lopez organized the Hispanic American History Committee’s first outreach meeting, with Rebecca Fey and her staff from the Delaware Historical Society. Plans for a display during Hispanic History Month in September were discussed.
- Chair Bill Conley gave presentations to the Military Veterans luncheon of the Journey Church in Bear, the Board of the Military Order of the World Wars of Delaware and the Korean War Veterans.
Condolences to Vice Chair Peg Tigue on the death of her son Harry in April. Harry, a sea captain who lived in Maine, was able to visit his mom in Wilmington for Easter.