Minutes of Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) Meeting
in Richmond, May 12, 2005
The participants each gave a brief summary of their group’s interests and plans for the W3R in Virginia.
Ms. Nicole Yancey (email@example.com) is organizing a Tidewater regional W3R group which will include participants from Yorktown, Williamsburg, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, Gloucester County and nearby areas. She is participating in the planning of activities for Yorktown Day in 2005 as well as the big 225th celebration that will occur in October 2006. The Yorktown Day schedule will include a commemorative event for the Battle of Capes as well as for the siege of Yorktown. Among other tasks she is working with various groups from France who will be traveling to Virginia for the Yorktown celebration in 2006 and she suggested that W3R promote travel from the French sister cities of Virginia cities that are on the W3R.
Ms. Diane Depew (Diane_K_Depew@nps.gov) from the National Park Service reported on NPS plans at Yorktown, including an Electronic Field Trip that the NPS is developing with Colonial Williamsburg. The NPS is working with the Yorktown Day Association to plan the events next year. There is a 225th Committee that meets periodically to plan the special commemorative events in 2006.
Mr. Rob Coles from Charlottesville is a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and portrays Jefferson in various historical settings. He attended the meeting with Ms. King and is interested in participating in W3R events in the Charlottesville area.
Ms. Andree King (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the Alliance Francaise of Charlottesville and the Charlottesville Albemarle Historical Society reported on plans that Albemarle County has for commemorating the 225th anniversary of the campaign in their county. They are planning lectures, reenactments and a parade in Charlottesville to commemorate the events that occurred there in 1781. Albemarle County is also working on a special map focusing on the Old Richmond Road and other roads of significance to the military campaign in 1781. She mentioned that the Virginia state library has a thorough study of Lafayette’s route through Virginia that they are using to develop their map. In addition to her role with Albemarle County, Ms. King is also the president of the Alliance Francaise in Charlottesville.
Mr. J. David Zimmerman (email@example.com) of Hanover County stressed that the Commonwealth of Virginia needs to provide funding for Dr. Robert Selig to conduct the historical research in Virginia that he has done for other states including Connecticut, New York and Delaware. Mr. Zimmerman displayed a copy of the book that Dr. Selig wrote for the Connecticut W3R. Mr. Zimmerman has been working on raising funds for this research for years and will continue to do so.
Mr. Mike Steen (firstname.lastname@example.org) attended as the representative from the Richmond area, specifically the City of Richmond, Hanover, Henrico, and Chesterfield Counties. He is coordinating the Richmond Region Colonial Trail 2007 Project, and is also chairman of the 1781 Foundation. He discussed the many initiatives that his groups are working on including scheduling events at Petersburg, Richmond and other sites where significant events occurred in 1781, developing grants for series of lectures on the campaign, and preparing programs that focus on the role of African-Americans in Virginia.
Mr. David Brickley (email@example.com) attended as the representative of the East Coast Greenway organization. ECG is developing an off-road walking/biking trail that will go from Maine to Florida. Much of the proposed ECG route coincides with the W3R, including most of the W3R through Virginia, so the East Coast Greenway organization wants to work with us so that we can develop our trails together. Mr. Brickley suggested ways that W3R can pursue collaborative efforts with other groups such as the ECG to secure funding for the projects we jointly want to pursue.
Ms. Sallie Lyons and Mr. Gerald Lyons (firstname.lastname@example.org) attended from Fairfax County. They live adjacent to the W3R in the old town of Colchester and are interested in archaeology and media promotion of the W3R. Ms. Lyons mentioned that Old Colchester Road in Fairfax County has been designated on the National Register of Historic Places. This road was part of the route taken by Generals Washington and Rochambeau after leaving Mount Vernon and she is interested in preservation of the road. The embankment cut where the road came away from the Occoquan ferry is still very visible in Prince William County but is threatened by development and needs to be preserved. In addition, there was a Rochambeau campsite near her house and they are interested in an archaeological investigation of the campsite.
Mr. Lyons proposed that W3R develop a media kit and that the media kit be sent to newspapers. He mentioned that the Kids Post section of the Washington Post would be good idea for publicity and also suggested the development of multi-lingual English/French materials. Additionally he mentioned that David Rumsey maps are good resource that W3R can use.
Ms. Judy Ledbetter (email@example.com) attended from Charles City County. She reported that she is working on a genealogy project to go on the web with the Charles City County school system that profiles descendants of Revolutionary War veterans. Many of the students in Charles City County are descended from African-American and Native American, as well as White, soldiers who fought in the Revolution. [Following the meeting, Ms. Ledbetter completed the project and you can access her excellent site at www.charlescity.org . The kids are in the "Roots Run Deep" section on the 3 Cultures page. ]
Mr. Richard Bowman also attended from Charles City County. Mr. Bowman and Ms. Ledbetter explained that because the population of Charles City County is predominantly African-American but also has many citizens of Native American ancestry, their county has a particular interest in focusing on the role of people of color who fought in the Revolution.
Mr. Allen B. Griffith represented the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) at the meeting. Mauris Mackenzie and Jim Barrett are VDOT’s points of contract for the W3R program but they could not attend. VDOT is responsible for the approval of all signage that goes on highway right of way in Virginia so VDOT plans to work with W3R on signage issues. Mr. Griffith stressed that in considering the budget for signage it is essential to consider the cost of maintenance as well as the initial cost of erecting signs. Mr. Griffith and other representatives of VDOT have driven the Washington-Rochambeau Route designated by the Virginia legislature in 1980 and have marked the GPS locations where signs are missing. VDOT has prepared a CD with the GPS locations of the existing Washington-Rochambeau Route signage. He is interested in working with W3R to improve the existing Washington-Rochambeau signage and to replace missing signs. Mr. Griffith also offered to drive the portion of the route in the Fredericksburg and Caroline County areas with anyone interested.
Mr. Tom Hart (firstname.lastname@example.org) represented the Historic Fredericksburg Foundation. Mr. Hart said that his organization would like to see a W3R interpretive marker installed in Fredericksburg. He explained that the historic interpretation in Fredericksburg at present focuses heavily on the Civil War but there is little focus on the Revolution. He said that Fredericksburg needs research on the many extant buildings from 1781 as well as encampment sites in his area. Mr. Hart also discussed forming a Fredericksburg region group to work on W3R projects in his area.
Ms. Megan Orient (email@example.com) from Stafford County is the director of tourism for her county. She reported that Stafford County is very interested in hosting a W3R event next year. Ms. Orient agreed to work with Mr. Hart to form a Fredericksburg regional W3R committee.
Mr. Chris Gregson (firstname.lastname@example.org) representing Henrico County and Ms. Sarah Pace (email@example.com) of the Henrico County Historical Society both attended but had to leave before they could make a presentation.
Mr. Robert A. (Bob) Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org) spoke on behalf of the DHR. Mr. Carter thanked Mr. Vincent for his leadership in calling the meeting and all participants for their energy and commitment to the project. He agreed with Ms. Yancey that the group could be most effective in supporting and promoting the activities that are already in the planning stage for October, 2006 at Yorktown. Mr. Carter expressed DHR’s support for exploration of designation by the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network of W3R as a land trail. Such designation could lead to a matching grant for development of trail guide and map. It could be done as a multi-state effort or state by state. He recommended that the Virginia Tourism Corporation be briefed on W3R and expressed willingness to help in that regard.
Ms. Kim Burdick (KimRBurdick@aol.com), the national coordinator for the nine-state W3R organization, discussed the origins of W3R-USA and activities that are underway in the other states. She invited everyone to attend the W3R meeting to be held on July 8-10 in Newport, Rhode Island to coincide with the 225th anniversary of the arrival of General Rochambeau and the French army in America.
Report on Events Subsequent to the May Meeting
Mount Vernon Sign Dedication
A new Washington-Rochambeau sign was dedicated at Mount Vernon by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) on May 13. Among those in attendance were Carol Howerton Virginia DAR representative for the W3R and many other representatives of the Virginia DAR, Mr. Albert (Durf) McJoynt, and Kevin Vincent.
Northern Virginia Regional Meeting
A Northern Virginia regional meeting was held in Alexandria on May 31. Attendees included Jean Federico (Director, Office of Historic Alexandria ), Carol Howerton, Jim Rees (Executive Director of Mount Vernon), Jim Bartlinski (Director of Alexandria’s Carlyle House), Albert McJoynt (Expédition Particulière -- email@example.com), Gerard and Sallie Lyons, (Colchester and Mason Neck area of Fairfax County), Michael Miller, and Ellen Stanton.
In general, the meeting in Alexandria was exploratory, and offered an opportunity for various interested parties to discuss the W3R’s possible impact in this area in 2006 and 2007.
Among the ideas discussed is the "Virginia TIME TRAVELERS 2005 Passport" initiative that appears to have traction with the expressed interest of Mrs. Howerton [VADAR representative]. Another new suggestion is making an event of the oxen-drawn wagons crossing the Potomac from Georgetown to Virginia.
A third suggestion was that there should be a commemoration of the 10-11 September 1781 visit of Washington and Rochambeau at Mount Vernon. The director of Mount Vernon expressed his view that this would need to be a “signature event” for Mount Vernon to host the commemoration, with serious content inviting media coverage, rather than a small ceremony of interest only to those already participating in the W3R program. Everyone was in agreement that a Mount Vernon event should be a priority for the W3R.
A fourth possible item was raised by Jean Federico: the French army’s presence in Alexandria apparently caused the “first open Roman Catholic mass” to have been celebrated in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The suggestion was put forth in a rough draft and as Jean said, it needs further examination. If this proves out, it may have been that the mass was held in 1782 during the French troop movement back north. If that were the case, this would be an significant event that W3R could stage in 2007.
Charles City County Website
Judy Ledbetter has developed an excellent website profiling schoolchildren in Charles City County who are descended from African-American, Native American, and Anglo-American soldiers who fought with the Continental forces during the Revolution including the Yorktown campaign. You can access the site at www.charlescity.org. The kids are in the "Roots Run Deep" section on the 3 Cultures page.
W3R-USA Signage Committee Meetings
Mr. David Zimmerman attended the W3R-USA “Sign Guys” Task Force meeting at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on June 10. This meeting discussed the design of interpretive panels and road signage that will be adopted by W3R-USA.
Another “Sign Guys” meeting was held in Wilmington, Delaware on June 24. Mr. Mauris Mackenzie of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) attended to provide VDOT’s input regarding road signage. The signage task force has completed most work on its recommendations for the format and style of W3R interpretive panels and will soon be issuing model guidelines that all the states can use.
Meeting with Endview Plantation
Nicole Yancey reported on June 15 that she had a very productive meeting with J. Michael Moore who works with John Quarstein for the City of Newport News. Mr. Moore is the director of the Endview Plantation historical site in Newport News. They offered helping to create a W3R sign for Endview Plantation and/or help designing a W3R map of the area. They feel that W3R should help visitors to the 2006 Yorktown celebration of the role of the Allied Armies in securing independence. Endview (then called the Harwood Plantation) was a location where on September 28, 1781, the allied armies rested and then made their final approach towards Yorktown.
Newport, Rhode Island Meeting and Reenactment
On July 8-10, the quarterly meeting of the W3R-USA organization was held in Newport, Rhode Island in conjunction with ceremonies to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the arrival of General Rochambeau and the French army in Newport in 1780. Noted author David McCullough spoke at the ceremonies. Revolutionary War reenactors from many states including Virginia participated in an encampment and reenactments of the landing of the French army and the first meeting of Washington and Rochambeau. There was a very interesting presentation by Rhonda Roberson, Executive Director of the Black Patriots organization in Washington, D.C., and others concerning the role of Black soldiers who served in the American army in the Revolution. Dennis M. Conrad, an Historian from the Naval Historical Center, also in D.C., discussed the decisive naval Battle of the Capes (fought off the coast of Virginia) that sealed the British fleet out of Chesapeake Bay and in so doing sealed the fate of Cornwallis and the British army.
Ms. Edie Shean-Hammond, director of tourism for the National Park Service (NPS) Northeast region, and Mr. Larry Gall of the NPS both spoke during the business meeting to report on the status of the NPS’s consideration of designation of the W3R as a national historic trail. Ms. Shean-Hammond reminded us that the NPS will be working with citizens groups that are interested in developing the W3R but that “it’s up to the States” to make the W3R a reality. Mr. Gall reported that the NPS study is now undergoing review by the NPS regional office and they are making some alterations to one of the alternatives under consideration. He explained that they are now considering what he described as a “National Historic Trail Plus” concept for the W3R. After the meeting I spoke with Mr. Gall further and he explained that the NPS was considering a scope for the W3R that extended beyond the routes followed by Generals Washington and Rochambeau and the main American and French armies to Yorktown. Mr. Gall said that he was interested in working with W3R-Virginia as we identify sites associated with the campaign in Virginia of the forces commanded by Lafayette in 1781 so that they can be included in the expanded scope of the W3R.
It was also suggested during the Newport meeting that the each state should break down its efforts by forming smaller regional committees to develop interpretive signage and to plan events. [Before the Newport meeting, we were acting on that suggestion, and there are several regional W3R groups already at work in Virginia.] It is not too early now for each locality that would like to have interpretive panels to start drafting the text that would go on their signs and to begin assembling any art or graphics that could be displayed on the panels.
Northern Virginia/Maryland/DC Meeting
On July 21, Mrs. Betty Jane Gerber and Ms. Jean Taylor Federico hosted in Alexandria a joint meeting with representatives from Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland to discuss the coordination of W3R activities in the DC metropolitan area. In addition to Mrs. Gerber and Ms. Federico, the following people attended the meeting: Jim Mackay, Director of the Alexandria Lyceum; Stewart McCarty of SAR/SR from Fairfax, Ann Smith, George Vasjuta and Gary Scott of the National Park Service, Robert Jacob of D.C., and Margaret MacKenzie, Duane Tressler and Robert Reyes of Maryland. The meeting covered many topics including a reenactment of the ride of Washington and Rochambeau from Baltimore to Mount Vernon.
W3R Regional Groups
Northern Virginia -- contact Kevin Vincent or Jean Federico
Tidewater region (including Yorktown) -- contact Nicole Yancey
Richmond area region -- contact Mike Steen
Fredericksburg/Stafford region -- contact Tom Hart or Megan Orient
Charlottesville/Albemarle region -- contact Ms. Andree King
Orange County/Central Virginia region -- Mr. Jay Harrison, Chairman of the Orange County Planning Committee of The Virginia 2007 Community Program, and Executive Director of the Orange Downtown Alliance, would like to host a meeting in the Town of Orange to discuss the interest of many Central Virginians in connecting to the W3R. Mr. Harrison can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (540) 672-2540 (office telephone number) or by fax at (540) 672-1317 (office fax number).
Tasks That Need Volunteers
Preparation of a Mission Statement for W3R-Virginia [I agreed to do this but haven’t found the time, so anyone is welcome to take the first crack]
Recording Secretary to distribute periodic reports [unfortunately I have been unsuccessful in finding the time to distribute updates on a regular basis so I need some help!]
Webmaster [Mr. Albert McJoynt is serving as our “unofficial” webmaster on an interim basis]
Raising funds through --
contributions from private sources, including corporations, foundations and individuals
contact Society of Cincinnati
contact Sons of the American Revolution
contact Virginia Historical Society
grants from local government agencies and tourism offices
grants from state government agencies
prepare proposal for submission to VDOT for Transportation Enhancement (TE) grants
grant from Chesapeake Bay Gateways program [Bob Carter of DHR can assist]
appropriations from Virginia legislature
Preparation of a statewide W3R map [Albert McJoynt has volunteered to coordinate this project]
Preparation of county and regional W3R maps
Drive current Washington-Rochambeau route -- using CD prepared by VDOT to confirm location of missing signage and to identify sites of interest along route
Coordination with Virginia Tourism Corporation
Coordination with local tourism offices [Ms. Megan Orient of the Stafford County Tourism office has agreed to assist]
prepare media kits [Gerald Lyons has volunteered to work on this project]
submit idea for a W3R trip to the Washington Post “Road Trip” column -- send email to email@example.com
submit ideas for Washington Post “Kids Post” section
Drafting of interpretive panels for individual sites
Tentative Schedule for 2006
This is a very tentative and rough schedule of W3R events to be held in 2006 (with a few notable events in 2005 also mentioned). Points of contact and notes regarding event in brackets.
Sep. 2-4, 2005 -- "Prelude to Victory" at Colonial Williamsburg http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.org/visit/eventsAndExhibits/specialEvents/
Oct 1, 2005 -- Lebanon, Connecticut [W3R-USA event]
Apr. 15, 2006 -- Battle of Petersburg reenactment [The City of Petersburg has announced that it is going to schedule a reenactment of this battle as the kickoff for Petersburg's Jamestown 2007 program -- http://www.petersburg-va.org/petg2007.htm Petersburg has a fine brief Revolutionary war site http://www.petersburg-va.org/revwar/index2.asp but I don't know who the point of contact is for the Petersburg program. Please let me know if you have a point of contact there.]
Apr. 22, 2006 -- Engagements at Osborne’s Landing and Chesterfield Courthouse, Chesterfield County [Mike Steen; possible events under discussion]
Apr. 29, 2006 -- Richmond [Mike Steen; possible event under discussion to commemorate stand-off between Lafayette and the British under Phillips and Benedict Arnold in April 1781]
June 3-4, 2006 -- Engagement at Point of Fork [details at http://www.virginiacampaign.org/pointoffork/index.htm]
June 24, 2006 -- “Under the Red Coat” weekend in Williamsburg [I am trying to confirm the dates for this now. Colonial Williamsburg has this event every year and this year’s event spanned three days]
July 15, 2006 -- “Battle of Green Springs” [no details about who is sponsoring this reenactment and where it will be held; I don't think the actual site of the battle can be used for a reenactment]
Labor Day weekend (Sep. 2-4) 2006 -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania [major W3R-USA reenactment and event]
Labor Day weekend 2006 -- "Prelude to Victory" at Colonial Williamsburg [The Colonial Williamsburg website says that this reenactment is being held Labor Day weekend this year (2005) to "represent September 26, 27, and 28, 1781 – the last three days of the period when General Washington and Le Compte de Rochambeau, commander of French forces, were headquartered in Williamsburg prior to the siege at Yorktown." http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.org/visit/eventsAndExhibits/specialEvents/ I haven't been able to confirm this yet, but I assume Colonial Williamsburg will hold the same event next year to commemorate the 225th anniversary, perhaps on a weekend between September 14 and 28 when Washington and Rochambeau were actually in Williamsburg]
Sep. 6, 2006 -- “New Jersey W3R” reenactment [no further details yet]
Sep. 9-12, 2006 -- Mount Vernon [we haven't got any commitment yet but we are trying to talk Mount Vernon into having an event to commemorate the few days that George Washington and Rochambeau stayed at Mount Vernon on their way to Yorktown. In case Mount Vernon wants to schedule something on the actual anniversary of their time there we should keep these days blocked off the schedule.]
Sep. 16, 2006 -- Encampment/Ceremony at Hanover Courthouse [Mike Steen]
Sep. 24 or 25, 2006 -- ceremony in Arlington Cemetery and marker dedication in Arlington County [Kevin Vincent; tentative event to commemorate crossing of the Potomac River by French wagon train]
Sept 29-Oct 1, 2006 Wilmington, Delaware [major W3R reenactment and event]
Oct. 18, 2006 -- Battle of Yorktown reenactment [Nicole Yancey; site is still being determined but somewhere close to Yorktown]
Oct 19-22, 2006 Yorktown Day Celebrations [Nicole Yancey; multiple events at Yorktown and other Tidewater locations]
Potential Events Under Consideration But Not Yet Scheduled
Dates of actual events in parentheses and contact person for event in brackets
Presentations of “Billy Lee’s Washington” musical [Ms. Evelyn Swensson]
Encampment at Endview Plantation/Harwood Plantation [Michael Moore]
Events related to Benedict Arnold's assault on Richmond (December 1780-January 1781) [Mike Steen]
Encampment/Engagement at Charles City Courthouse (January 1781) [Mike Steen or Judy Ledbetter]
Events relating to Tarleton's raid of the western county courthouses (July 1781) [Mike Steen]
Event at Hanover Courthouse to commemorate Lafayette’s encampments (March and April 1781) [Mike Steen]
Event at Hanover Courthouse to mark Cornwallis’s encampment (May 30, 1781) [Mike Steen]
Programs commemorating militia units raised in Northern Neck counties who marched to Yorktown [Mike Steen]
Battle of Gloucester Courthouse (Oct. 3, 1781) [Mike Steen]
Symposium in Alexandria relating to Yorktown campaign [Jean Federico]
Reenactment of march/encampment in Alexandria [Jean Federico]
Events to commemorate French army encampments in Virginia (Nov. 1781-June 1782)
Reenactment of French army’s return march (July 1782)
Return to Main Page Overview of Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Status in Virginia. Page posted 8 August 2005.