Walking in the Footsteps of History

Photo-report of Leg 1: RI and CT

by Ralph Nelson (Kirkwood Chapter, Delaware Society SAR)

Sunday, June 20

As Lee trekked from Windham to Andover he gave interviews by Email, cell phone, and in person, and our hosts gave us clippings about the walk from papers across Rhode Island and Connecticut. As we traveled we also made arrangements for presentations in NY and NJ, so there was rarely a dull moment during the day or evening.

We spoke in uniform every evening to forty to fifty people. While many in the audience were aware that French troops passed through their town, few had any knowledge of the great military, financial, and social impact of having 5,400 professional soldiers and a like number of professional sailors paying in silver for their food and lodging (or ship repairs) for three years in the U.S.

A few sections of the W3R remain as dirt roads -- as they were in 1781. It is also hard to re-create the scenery that the French troops viewed, since at that time most of the area was farmland and there were few trees along the roadway. However, it is cool to walk up a steep hill in the shade on a warm summer day and imagine what it was like for soldiers carrying a knapsack and twenty pounds of armaments while marching in full sunshine.

=== TOP OF PAGE===

Monday, June 21

We drove back to RI so that Lee could hike down some sections of road in RI and eastern CT that he missed on the first pass through the area. There were few way-finding signs along the W3R, but some erected in 1980 are still in fine shape. This one is on a hill overlooking Plainfield CT.

Later Lee walked trail sections between Andover and East Hartford. South of Bolton he walked several miles of a roadway used by the French troops and now going back to being covered by forest. I was not able to follow him there in the van, but I got a photo as he reached the town hall in Bolton.

This evening we spoke about the W3R to about forty people at the Raymond Library in East Hartford. Several people gave us items related to the W3R or useful as snacks along the trail.

Later Betty and Bill Knose gave us a tour of W3R-related sites near Hartford.

=== TOP OF PAGE===

Tuesday, June 22

Lee started out on Silver Lane in East Hartford. Here in 1781 eight French treasure wagons were unloaded into the Forbes home, where the silver would be safer from thieves.

Braving scattered showers, Bill Knose guided Lee through the tangle of Hartford bridges and streets to Farmingon Ave. The walk ended in West Hartford.

After cleaning up for dinner, we had a tour of the Silas Deane House in Wethersfield.

In the evening Lee spoke in Wethersfield to an audience of about eighty people, while I spoke to about forty people at a dinner in Plainfield, where we raised our glasses to toast the memory of General Rochambeau and the French Expeditionary Force.

As part of our talks we describe the present effort to mark the trail, to develop sites and tours along the trail, and to encourage all-route events such as Lee's walk. Our Sponsor Recognition Board listed a wide variety of people and organizations that supported the Walk with donations of cash, food, transportation, or lodging. A number of people in the audience contributed to support the trip as we travelled.

Return to Photo-Report Index | Continue to next part