225th Anniversary of the Washington - Rochambeau Revolutionary War Route.
Friday, June 30 through Sunday July 2, 2006
March to Victory Weekend- Ridgefield

Ridgefield History
» Camp#11 in Ridgefield's Ridgebury Parish
» The French Army in Ridgebury - A French Journal

Camp #11 in Ridgefield's Ridgebury Parish
On June 30, 1781 General Jean Baptiste Donatien le Vimeur comte de Rochambeau received an urgent summons from General Washington to break camp in Newtown, CT and march post haste to the White Plains. Here their combined armies would simulate an offensive against British held New York then veer southward to their rendezvous with history at Yorktown. Rochambeau swiftly reorganized his army by brigades, rather than as individual regimental divisions as they had been marching since departing Newport, RI on the 10th of June. The First brigade, consisting of the Bourbonnais and Deux!Ponts regiments, left immediately with Rochambeau for their next camp in Ridgebury, arriving midday on July 1st. The second brigade "Soissonnais and Saintonge regiments tramped in the following day. The French main camp lay across from Ridgebury Congregational Church "still standing today" at the intersection of Ridgebury Road and the George Washington Highway. Eight miles to the southwest, the Hussars of Duc du Lauzun's mounted legion screened Rochambeau's flank. An advance camp of chaussers under Captain Alexandre Berthier took up a protective position along Ridgebury Road about a mile to the south of Rochambeau. That evening, ‘le comte' celebrated his 56th birthday, dining at Samuel Keeler's tavern with his officers on frog legs reputedly gathered from the local ponds.

In the lee of Berthier's original ridgetop advance camp, the Town of Ridgefield is hosting New England's largest W3R 225th anniversary French encampment on July 1 &2, 2006. Although the original French camp was undisturbed by Crown forces, British Captain Frederick Mackenzie's diary tells of brief encounters with Lauzun's Hussars a few days later. The French" Mackenzie wrote, they "…..are only formidable from their reputation and discipline.... Should the British troops attack the French, our men should be instructed to make free use of the bayonet in the first onset…..."

In the spirit of Mackenzie's remarks, Ridgefield's W3R 225th Anniversary BAR encampment will feature New England's only regimental competition with the bayonet. All participating Continental, Crown, and French units are invited to enter a four man team in this competitive exercise with a full size dummy in the open field. The winning team will receive four new bayonets from gggodwin, plus the priceless adulation of their peers. Re-enactors who like to burn powder will enjoy a four hour continuous unscripted open field skirmish as Crown lights harrass the Allied camp. And complimentary whole roasted pigs and home baked fruit pies will be delivered to the camp Saturday evening.

Topping of the weekend is a formal Ball to honor Rochambeau's 56th birthday at theLounsbury House "National Historic Register" building in Ridgefield, complete with frog legs, string quartet, country band, harpist, magician, and gaming.

For unit registration details and weekend event info visit the BAR host regiment website: www.5CR.org

For "March to Victory" Ball tickets on July 1, 2006 go to: http://www.ridgefieldvictorymarch.org/calendar/ball/index.htm

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The French Army in Ridgebury

Journal Entries & Commentary (1781)

“We could see that the front of the army had arrived as far as where Samuel Dibble lives and as far as we could see over Shelterock Hill, a distance of probably two miles the troops continued to come in sight. We got a stand at the chamber window in the house where Ammon Weed now lives and had a good view of them when they went by--I should judge now that they were two hours in passing the army and the Baggage wagons--which later took up more space than the former. know that at the time I began to think it had no end. The officers were thought to be a fine set of good looking men remarkably lively and well dressed but the soldiers formed a striking contrast. They were tawny and almost black and appeared like slaves which they then were or little better under the then despotic government of France." -- the memoirs of Benjamin Hoyt of Danbury—

“On the first of July we arrived in Ridgebury by very mountainous and difficult roads. -- the journal of Baron Ludwig von Closen, aide-de-camp to General Rochambeau.

“You cross a patch of woodland, after which you ascend a fairly steep grade [along today’s George Washington High-way] and then continue downhill. You pass a meeting house on the right, many scattered houses, among which is the tavern of S. [Ensign Samuel] Keeler, on the right, and you reach Ridgebury. Ridgebury is only a small village, where there is an English church, composed of scattered houses on an extensive but not high plateau. The surrounding country is cleared. Part of it is cultivated, and part is pastureland." --the formal written intinerary of Rochambeau’s army attributed to his aide-de-camp, Lt. Ludwig von Closen.

“From Newtown to Ridgebury: Instead of marching by regiments, we marched by brigades. The roads were very moun-tainous, and the journey difficult. This little town is not very pretty. The Natives appear to be poor. There is much devas-tation by the English." -- the journal of the Comte de Clermont-Crevecoeur, Lt. Metz Artillery –

“We set up our camp near Ridgebury, a beautiful gentleman’s manor; there we had numerous visits from beautiful girls again." --the diary of Private Daniel Flohr, Royal Deux-Ponts Regt.

“The inhabitants of Connecticut are the best people in the United States without any doubt. They have a lively curiosity and examined our troops and all our actions with evident astonishment. When they visited our camp, the girls came without their mothers and entered our tents with the greatest of confidence." -- the journal of Jean-Baptiste-Antoine de Verger, sub-Lt. Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment --

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Why was a French Army in Ridgefield?

Why was a French Army in Ridgefield?

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The 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution
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March to Victory Weekend
Friday, June 30 through Sunday July 2, 2006 - Ridgefield, Connecticut
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