A monthly publication of The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association
NOVEMBER 2021 On the Web: www.w3r-us.org Vol. 1, No. 11
Students Become Patriots, March to Victory
Become a Patriot – or Not, a program that seeks to educate students in schools along the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail about the importance of French aid to the American Revolution, premiered Nov. 6 at the Maryland Veterans Museum at Patriot Park in Newburg.
The program, which includes a video and an activity book, also emphasizes that this history happened right here, in their own communities, said Elaine Lawton, chair of the W3R-US Education Committee, which collaborated with the museum and the Charles County (Maryland) Public Schools to develop Become a Patriot – or Not. The resulting 15-minute video, A March for Liberty, and a companion 16-page activity book are geared to students age 7-10 and will be available free of charge via W3R’s Web site as a public service and a resource for teachers and other interested groups and individuals.
The premiere attracted 25 elementary-school students wearing tricorn hats. Parents, high-school students from the Teacher Academy of Maryland (TAM) and program creators and supporters swelled the turnout to 60.
Elaine introduced the two-hour program and then turned it over to Robert Bowser, a high school social studies teacher from nearby Port Tobacco who was dressed as a Continental soldier. He explained that, as the revolution evolved, residents of Charles County – along with many of their fellow Marylanders – had to decide whether they would join the rebellion or remain loyal to King George III. He then instructed the students to reach under their chairs, where they would find color-coded cards with questions related to the video they were about to watch. Without further ado, he launched into A March for Liberty, narrated by an animated Ellie the Eagle, pausing at different points to let the students answer the questions on their cards. Among the themes:
- The siege of Yorktown
- The importance of French aid
- Aid from other countries, such as Spain
- The roles of African Americans (free and enslaved) and Native Americans
- What was it like to be a Continental soldier (carrying a pack and a 10-pound musket)?
- What sort of government will we create?
The youngsters then turned to the activity book. Aided by parents and TAM students, they wielded markers and scissors as they matched words with definitions, located places on a map, decoded a message, completed a word search, connected dots and completed a crossword, among other challenges.
Mr. Bowser then posed the key question – will you choose to become a patriot? Remain loyal to the king? Or are you not yet sure? He invited the students to come forward and join their chosen group. All participants wanted to be a patriot; a teacher and a TAM student were enlisted to represent the loyalists. Nobody was undecided.
Participants then re-enacted the 700-mile march of Rochambeau’s forces from Newport, RI, to Yorktown, VA, by marching around the room, stomping loudly as they went. They also got a taste of carrying a 10-pound musket when they passed around a 10-pound weight. The program concluded with a scavenger hunt, a photo op beneath an image of Ellie the Eagle and the tossing of their tricorn hats to shouts of “Huzzah!”
“The event was a great success,” Elaine said. The name was used to create dialogue and “We had a noisy and uproarious debate. The students and parents had fun. Everyone enjoyed their hats, American and French flags, activity book, video and goodie bags.”
W3R National Chair Larry Abell echoed those sentiments, calling the premiere “a resounding success” and citing “the excitement on the kids’ faces.”
Key people in the development of Become a Patriot – or Not included Elaine, as project facilitator; teachers Alexis Eaton and Jaime Gesl, who designed the activity book following learning standards for the fourth grade; Jack Tuttle, content specialist; and Dr. Robert Selig, W3R historian. All material was fact-checked for historical accuracy. A promotional video for the program includes interviews with the teachers in front of the Washington-Rochambeau mural at the museum.
The gift bags included French and U.S. flags, a bottle of water, a package of crackers, a W3R membership brochure, a folding fan, patriotic Fourth of July stickers and a strand of beads (echoing the image of the Trail itself as a string, with the sites along the way as individual beads).
For 2022, the Education Committee is developing a pilot project geared to eighth-graders in Baltimore City Schools.
Rochambeau Statue Unveiled on Yorktown Riverwalk
A long-awaited statue of General Rochambeau was unveiled and dedicated on the Yorktown Riverwalk on Oct. 18, accompanied by poignant remarks about the man as well as the commander. The statue, whose ceremonies were delayed a year by the Covid-19 pandemic, joined statues of General Washington, Admiral de Grasse and General Lafayette.
The hour-plus ceremony was held in conjunction with the 240th anniversary of the surrender of British General Cornwallis at Yorktown on Oct. 19, 1781.
Chuck Schwam, a director of W3R-US and treasurer of the American Friends of Lafayette, was master of ceremonies in his role as agent for l’Association de Amis de Rochambeau. Before the unveiling, he introduced a series of speakers who provided a range of perspectives on Rochambeau.
Nicole Yancey, a director of W3R-US and former honorary consul of France in Virginia, gave a comprehensive and engaging overview of the life of Rochambeau, whose support for the Continental cause was so critical but was largely forgotten after the war. Like many younger brothers of his time, he was originally destined for the clergy but his life was redirected to the army after the death of his elder brother. He proved to be not only a skilled commander during many campaigns in Europe but also an excellent choice to lead the Expédition Particulière. Upon landing in Newport in July 1780, he immediately got on good terms with the locals, making sure his forces treated them respectfully. (The fact that the French paid their bills in silver also helped.) Even more important, he and Washington really got along well, both personally and militarily, with the French commander, despite his greater military experience, acknowledging his subordinate relationship to the American.
Steve Williams, deputy superintendent of Colonial National Historical Park, described the Trail as “the story of ordinary people doing extraordinary things” and noted that the statue will help connect 21st century people with their history.
W3R National Chair Larry Abell, noting that our Association’s mission is to tell the story and preserve the Trail, emphasized the importance of Rochambeau as a good follower even when, in many respects, he was really the leader of the expedition. He was an extraordinary choice, Larry said, although his subservient role to Washington has been a well-kept secret until recently. There is a lesson here for the United States, Larry suggested; when this country intervenes in another, it tends to take over, make mistakes and learn the hard way while Rochambeau was quite the opposite, working largely behind the scenes. “We are unveiling a man as well as a statue,” Larry said, as well as celebrating the Franco-American friendship.
The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) began campaigning for a Rochambeau statue in 2017, and Chuck commended Ernest Sutton, the organization’s surgeon general, for “herding cats” to help bring the project to fruition. Chuck also cited Walter Judd of the Celebrate Yorktown Committee, the only organization involved in the erection of all four statues in the ensemble.
Mark Jakobowski, vice president of the Sons of the Revolution in Virginia, noted that Lafayette had hoped to receive Rochambeau’s post but suppressed his personal desire and accepted the latter’s leadership for the good of the cause – one more example from the Revolutionary War of what people can accomplish when they suppress their egos and work together.
French Army Colonel Aymeric Tardieu De Maleissye, from the Norfolk-based French delegation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, cited three outstanding critical traits of Rochambeau:
- As a soldier, he was an experienced veteran.
- As an adviser, he was loyal to Washington but, realizing the importance of sea power, he argued that conditions for a successful campaign were better in Virginia than in New York.
- As a friend, he believed in the U.S. cause, he admired the Continental Army and its courage and he achieved a rare level of camaraderie with Washington.
With about 75 people watching and gathering around, Chuck and Nicole removed the covering from the new statue, which, unlike its weathered companions, glistened in the bright sun. Sculptor Cyd Player said that, like the war itself, the statue was the result of a great deal of collaboration regarding ideas, history, models, clothes and swords, among other elements.
Cyd’s remarks were followed by the placement of a wreath by Alan Hoffman, president of the American Friends of Lafayette (and chair of W3R-MA) and Patrick Kelly, trustee of SAR France. An artillery salute from a nearby hill, courtesy of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, rounded out the program.
In addition to the SAR, the drive for the statue was spearheaded by the American Friends of Lafayette, l’Association de Amis de Rochambeau and the National Park Service (which funded 40 percent of the $40,000 sculpture). W3R-US administered the NPS-WARO pass-through grant. Chuck thanked them and all the many agencies, organizations and individuals whose financial and other support made the statue a reality.
The ceremony was followed by a luncheon at the nearby Freight Shed. A highlight was a video hookup with Rochambeau descendant Nathalie de Gouberville from the family chateau in France. Nathalie was a long-distance part of W3R-US’ July 1, 2021, After Dinner Conversation, which celebrated the general’s 296th birthday that day.
Wreaths from Yorktown Day, Oct. 19, 2021
Hybrid Board Meeting First ‘In Person’ Session in 2 Years
The Oct. 18, 2021, meeting of the Board of Directors and Leadership Council was as noteworthy for its structure as it was for any business transacted – it was the first time in two years that such a meeting had included an “in person” component as our Association continues to grapple with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The two-hour session attracted 14 people to a meeting room at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown while 20 others joined via a Zoom link.
“W3R has accomplished much” despite the pandemic and other challenges, said National Chair Larry Abell, referring to the activities subsequently reported by committee chairs and other leaders. These included:
Education Committee: Chair Elaine Lawton summarized the Become a Patriot – or Not program, which would premiere Nov. 6. (Story on Page 1)
Open Outdoors for Kids grant: Randy Flood of the American Revolution Consortium for Civic Education reported on the progress of the $30,000 National Park Foundation grant, which is being administered by W3R-US.
Water trails research grant: Dr. Robert Selig, project historian, reported that he is pulling components together for a report due in the summer of 2022.
Fundraising Committee: Chair Julie Diddell reported that a new Alliance Circle campaign will begin Nov. 1.
Membership Committee: Chair Julie Diddell reported that the dues of any new members joining before the end of 2021 will be considered paid through Jan. 1, 2023. Beginning Nov. 1, current members will be asked to renew their dues for calendar year 2022.
Signage Committee: Chair Ralph Nelson reported that, since April, he has received additional information about approximately 100 signs in Virginia. He has compiled an Excel spread sheet with data about the known 462 signs related to the Continental-French march. Information about signs is available via GoogleEarth™.
Volunteer Hours Committee: Chair Sam Meredith reported that the number of hours reported is low compared with the amount of work being done. Volunteer hours are a key element in securing grants, she said.
Earned Income Committee: Chair Sam Meredith reported that T-shirts produced for the Bike and Kayak Tour and logo gel pens can be purchased through our Association’s online store.
Bike and Kayak Tour: Organizer/Director Sal Lilienthal, after thanking everyone for their support, reported that “the trip of a lifetime” cost about $123,000, of which about $85,000 came from W3R via donations and in-kind support. As for some of the adventures along the way, “You can’t make this stuff up,” he said. Those adventures and more will be included in a book that he and Jeff Canning, who drove a support vehicle, are compiling.
The Bulletin: Editor Jeff Canning summarized the history of the monthly newsletter, the first edition of which was published in January, and invited submissions, especially from state chairs. Larry described the publication as a highlight of 2021.
Strategic Planning Committee: Chair Randy Flood reported that he and his colleagues are looking 25 years into the future and are making good progress developing goals and objectives. A report is due in the near future.
Travel app: Executive Director Ellen von Karajan reported that two applications to develop the long-awaited app are being evaluated, with the contract expected to be awarded within several weeks. In conjunction with Trail Administrator Johnny Carawan, more than 200 potential sites along the Trail are being winnowed to the 100 that will be included in the app, which is expected to be completed within a year.
Advocacy: Brad Fay reported that he continues to keep in touch with members of Congress about increased federal resources for the Trail as the government operates under a continuing resolution. “Brad created a whole new world of advocacy,” Larry said, even more important because W3R, with its National Park Service funding expected to end May 31, 2022, must develop other sources of revenue.
From the states: Included in the State Report section, beginning on Page 12.
Format of Board meetings: Discussion of ways to streamline and shorten meetings while still covering and sharing significant information included these suggestions and questions, which are being reviewed by the Executive Committee:
- • Written instead of oral reports, attached to minutes
- • Brief summaries instead of detailed oral reports
- • Social hours between or after business meetings, providing an opportunity to network
- • Does everybody need every bit of information to fulfill our fiduciary responsibility?
- • Spend more time on special presentations of strategic importance, less on routine committee and state reports
Please respond: Treasurer Dave Meredith noted that only about 25 percent of W3R-US’ 149 members responded to Doodle email polls he sent in advance of the Yorktown events. “We need to hear your voice,” he said as he encouraged greater response.
Share the joy of the upcoming holiday season by donating to W3R-US’ Alliance Circle Campaign. Donations of all amounts are appreciated and when your giving totals $500, you’ll receive the coveted Alliance Circle pin! Click here to donate to W3R-US: Donate to W3R-US
This Black Friday, please choose the National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association when you buy one or all of your shopping items on AmazonSmile. AmazonSmile will then make a donation to W3R-US at no extra cost to you. Click here: AmazonSmile
Then watch for the W3R Giving Tuesday postings on Meta (Facebook) and emails in the days leading up to and on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 30. W3R is showcasing the goal to bring educational programs to students along the Trail, to which a portion of the funds will be directed.
– Julie Diddell, Fundraising Committee Chair
Are you still on the fence about becoming a member of W3R-US but think you should wait until Jan.1?
Our Flash Membership Drive is a way to join now and have your membership stand until January 2023!
For current members, please check your email for an invitation to renew your W3R-US membership for 2022-23!
To join or to renew your membership, please go to: Join/Renew W3R-US
– Julie Diddell, Membership Committee Chair
Countdown to 2026: Trail Administrator Johnny Carawan’s next monthly session will be online at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, topic to be announced.
Online Store Open for Business
Director Sam Meredith, Chair of the Earned Income Committee, reports that the new W3R-US online store is open for business but had no sales through early July. 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:
1. Enter smile.amazon.com in your browser address bar.
2. Shop and place your order.
3. 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 monthly. Hours include meetings, phone calls, advocacy, research, planning, events, travel and the Bike and Kayak Tour, among other items, both national and state/local. Sam’s template includes space for donations in kind (office space and computer use, for example, even if not reported on your tax returns). 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 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 will be presented in a separate section of The Bulletin. (Please see the reports beginning on Page 12.)
Your comments, suggestions and questions are welcome. Please email me at email@example.com
– Jeff Canning, National Recording Secretary
W3R-CT Chair Sal Lilienthal reports that, in Benedict Arnold’s home state, he is teaching a course on spies of the Revolutionary War.
W3R-DE has been reaching out to local leaders along the Trail. Chair Bill Conley met with Vince Watchorn, director of the Colonial era Cooch home, which sits on the Trail in Newark. The home was recently purchased by the state and will soon have a full-time site supervisor. Bill also met with Kathleen Purcell, executive director of the Wilmington Senior Center and officials of the three Colonial homes that sit along the Trail. … W3R-DE and Brandywine Village Partners will hold their Wreaths Across America ceremony at their site Dec. 18. … Vice President Peg Tigue will meet with David Young of the Delaware Historical Society to discuss potential mutual projects along the Trail. … Board member Jeanie Hayes is reaching out to the Delaware Junior League, which occupies an 18th-century home in Old Brandywine Village. … W3R-DE was represented at the state’s first planning meeting for the 250th anniversary and hopes to make Brandywine Village in Wilmington a hub of activity for 2026, including a welcoming center. … In a real education adventure, W3R-DE is reaching out to small communities along the Trail to share the story with educators. … Also in the works –a spring 2022 history fair at which diverse Wilmington groups can share little-known stories; collaboration with the Cooch’s Bridge Home and the Urban Student Colonial Color Guard.
– Bill Conley, State Chair
W3R-MD is working on research with the Patapsco Heritage Greenway about the Patapsco River crossings of Lafayette’s army and the French army during the 1781 Yorktown Campaign. These and other water-related events are of particular significance because much French travel through the state was by water. … FYI, Rochambeau was snubbed by some Marylanders because he refused to return runaway slaves.
– Robert E. Reyes, W3R-Maryland
We met some wonderful National Park Service guides during our Aug. 20 Bike and Kayak Tour event at the Ford Mansion/Washington’s Headquarters in Morristown. When they requested W3R-US brochures and Trail literature, we were thrilled to deliver what they requested. W3R-NJ board members plan to deliver W3R-US brochures to several other historic site museums. …
Meanwhile, W3R-NJ is coalescing as a team, working together as well as on individual specialties. Janice Selinger, executive director of Crossroads of the American Revolution, has been a terrific partner. … Chair Julie Diddell and Brad Fay are serving on the Revolution New Jersey Heritage Tourism/Economic Development Working Group for the 250th.
– Julie Diddell, State Chair
The state’s energy currently is especially dedicated toward Revolutionary Westchester 250 (RW250) and the preservation of the Odell House Rochambeau Headquarters, the French commander’s base during the summer of 1781while plans were formulated for the Yorktown campaign. RW250, led by Constance Kehoe, is at work on several fronts as the county prepares for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 2026, including videos and other informative presentations. To learn more, please visit: www.rw250.org
Among the many New Yorkers involved with various historical activities, State Chair Janet Lee Burnet has particularly cited the work of Dr. James M. Johnson, executive director of the Hudson River Valley Institute (please see Page 14 for information about his latest project), and re-enactor Duane Jackson of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment. … W3R-NY members are involved in the state’s planning of events for the 250th anniversary of the Declaration.
This virtual program will be a conversation between Devin Lander, New York State historian, and retired U.S. Army Colonel James M. Johnson, Ph.D., military historian of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. The online-only event is free and open to the public but pre-registration is required. Please click here for more information and registration.
– Janet Lee Burnet, State Chair
The Museum of the American Revolution (MAR) in Philadelphia hosted a reception Oct. 14 for its new special exhibit, Liberty, historical artist Don Troiani’s paintings of the Revolutionary War. The exhibit features more than 40 original paintings paired with artifacts of the war and will be open until Sept. 5, 2022. Of special note is the newest Troiani painting, commissioned by the MAR with funding by the National Park Service’s Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail. Brave Men as Ever Fought, which was unveiled Sept. 2 (exactly 240 years after the event it depicts), features African American and Native American troops of the Continental Army’s 1st Rhode Island Regiment marching along Chestnut Street in Philadelphia past the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) on their way to Yorktown. The people in the painting include James Forten, an African American sailor from Philadelphia who turned 15 that day and became a stalwart in anti-slavery and abolitionist movements.
Senior representatives of W3R-US and W3R-PA were guests at the reception and met the artist. An outstanding book for the exhibit has been published and is available at https://shop.amrevmuseum.org/liberty-don-troiani-s-paintings-of-the-revolutionary-war.html
– Lanny R. Patten, W3R-Pennsylvania
The Gloucester Museum of History commemorated the 240th anniversary of the Battle of the Hook by hosting a living history program during the weekend of Oct. 2-3, and W3R-VA was there to promote our organization. Robert Kelly Jr., museum coordinator, reported more than 300 people attended the two-day event with approximately 50 re-enactors present, including British Lt. Col Banastre Tarleton, who graciously visited our table. Young students completed scavenger hunts and were given educational supplement materials, while adults learned more about the importance of this battle. W3R-VA Secretary Amy Parker and Treasurer Cheryl Morales represented the organization on Saturday, and Interim Chair Dave Meredith and Director Sam Meredith were there on Sunday. They contributed more than 25 hours in preparation prior to and during the event.
– Cheryl Morales, W3R-Virginia