BOLTON AND THE WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU REVOLUTIONARY ROUTE (W3R)
A plan for a 625-mile long National Historic Trail
by Hans DePold, town historian
(Published in the Bolton Community News, December 2000)
December 16, 1999, marked the initial meeting of the intrastate W3 Committee at Washington's headquarters in Newburgh, NY. As the rabble-rouser who started the project in 1995 I have become the "Committee of Correspondence," the position Sam Adams held in 1781. Our goal is "to encourage the creation of a National Historic Trail with the registration of the entire route ... and to raise to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation all along the route."
Our primary purpose for this route is to recognize the considerable contribution Generals Washington and Rochambeau made toward American liberty and independence. The route commemorates a Franco-American campaign to immobilize the British in New York City and lay siege to the main southern British army at Yorktown.
The creation of the route is an opportunity to combine historic preservation with environmental preservation and, thus, the economic benefits of heritage tourism. State Representative Pamela Sawyer entered and supported the legislation to obtain the state funding to research and register the Connecticut portion of the route. State Congressman John Larson and U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman have begun the federal legislation for the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail. Because Bolton has been at the center of this activity, we could have the state's Washington-Rochambeau museum and visitor center when the route is approved. The Rose Farm could be a possible location. This opportunity could arise in about four years.
In 1780 the Middle Post Road and the route to Providence both passed through the center of Bolton. In fact, the original Olde Connecticut Path, used by Reverend Thomas Hooker and Connecticut's first settlers, also passed through town. In addition to Generals Washington and Rochambeau, famous visitors to Bolton included the Marquis de Lafayette, General Chastellux, the Duc de Lauzun, Alexander Hamilton, General Henry Knox, and several Continental Army units. We have not even begun to document the Boston patriots who passed through on their way to Philadelphia.
But most remembered are the 5,000 French soldiers who camped for four days in June 1781 on the property now known as the Rose Farm (French Camp #5). The long French column included 250 wagons, each drawn by four oxen. The town of Bolton, by comparison, had fewer than 1,800 citizens at that time. Lieutenant Gabriel-Gaspard Baron de Gallatin of the Deux Ponts Regiment related that at Bolton "the band played outside the camp and we danced on the green." At that time the "Rose" farm bordered the green.
For more information on Bolton W3R events, see Newsletter 29 on The Sons of the American Revolution's web site at http://www.ctssar.org/revroad/.