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Cannons, boots, and powdered wigs -
Selectmen want a commemoration of Rochambeau’s march

Press Staff – 5/12/05

The Redcoats are coming again, and this time they plan to eat frogs’ legs.

The weekend of July 1-2, 2006 has been proclaimed “March to {Victory}" Weekend by the Board of Selectmen to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the French army’s march through Ridgefield on the way to Virginia.

The Ridgefield Historical Society is working on a grand celebration that will include a re­enactment of the French army’s encampment here, under General Rochambeau. The festivities will include a dress ball at the Community Center, fireworks, and possibly a meal of frogs’ legs at the Keeler Tavern.

In addition, a marker will be erected in the Ridgebury field where the French army camped, explaining how General Rochambeau’s army contributed to the American victory.

“George Washington and his army were locked in a stalemate with the British army ‘in New York,” historical society Director Keith Jones explained. “The French, who had been fighting the British for a century here, saw this as a chance to punish the Brits. They sent an army and a huge fleet to help Washington solve his problems. They decided to go after the British army in Virginia. Washington and the French decided to combine their two armies. The French marched from Newport, R.I., to White Plains, N.Y., where they rendezvoused with Washington. They pretended they were going to attack New York, pinning the British army to New York. Then they went to Virginia and pinned the Brits to the water, and then the huge French fleet materialized.”

The French army spent its last night in Connecticut in Ridgebury, as they marched from Newport to Yorktown, Va.

The marker will be a three-foot by four-foot three-color fiber­glass plaque, Mr. Jones said.

Lots of events
The’ re-enactment of the encampment will include a French camp, an American camp and a British camp even though the French and British armies did not actually overlap in Ridgefield 225 years ago.

But Mr. Jones said there is a shortage of French re-enactment specialists these days, and since the French and British did overlap in nearby New York, a small amount of historical license can be applied.

He said the French consul in New York would be invited to act as the grand marshal for the ceremonies. Members of both the Ridgebury Congregational. Church and the Keeler Tavern are already actively planning for the weekend, Mr. Jones said.
There will be lots of other things going on Mr Jones said. “The Playhouse is even considering a patriot music festival.

Mr. Jones said that he hoped the weekend would be as successful as the commemorative weekend the town held two years ago to celebrate’ the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Ridgefield.

“It’s’ been brought to the attention of the historical society that at least one Board of Selectmen member wants to put on a powdered wig again,” he said.

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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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