Volume 4 • Issue 2 2006 fall Home
The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, In The State of New Jersey, 1781-1783: An Historical and Architectural Survey
Photo of five standing at grave site
The Washington Rochambeau march made its way through Princeton in August. Pictured are Mike Fitzgerald, David Fagerberg, day-marcher Paul Hutchins, David Holloway, and Mathieu Petitjean, President of the American Society of the Souvenir Francais
The New Jersey Historic Trust is pleased to announce the completion ofThe Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route In The State of New Jersey, 1781-1783: An Historical and Architectural Survey, by historian Robert A. Selig, Ph. D.  The survey is an in depth and detailed study of military marches through the State of New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War of both French Army troops and Continental Army troops in 1781-1783 in route to the defeat of the British Army and General Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia, October 19, 1781, and their return journey north. 

The New Jersey study compliments the work of the National Park Service, which was authorized by Congress through passage of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Heritage Trial Act of 2000 to evaluate the 650-mile route  from Newport, RI, to Yorktown, VA., taken in 1781 by French troops.  The troops were commanded by General Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau and Commander-in-chief George Washington.  The Park Service evaluated the route for its significance and integrity to be designated a National Heritage Trail.  That military specific campaign march, with the help of a French fleet commanded by Admiral de Grasse, resulted in the combined armies defeat of the British Army and General Cornwallis, the turning point of the American Revolutionary War. 

The year 2006 marks the 225th anniversary of this historic military campaign specific event, and the National Heritage Trail designation of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (W3R) is now under consideration by Congress.

The W3R survey in the State of New Jersey identifies the land and river routes that General Washington’s Continental Army and the comte de Rochambeau’s French forces took through New Jersey in August and September of 1781 on their way to Yorktown, and identifies associated sites and resources along those routes. The survey also provides a historical narrative of the campaign of 1781 around the identified sites and resources that focuses on the marches through New Jersey rather than the siege and victory at Yorktown.  The study develops recommendations for interpretation of these sites and resources. The information will support potential archeological surveys and excavations of the campsites, routes, and other physical evidence of the presence of the American and French armies in New Jersey from 1781 to 1783.

The publication is the result of two years of Dr. Selig's research in New Jersey archives, libraries and repositories of Revolutionary War journals and memorabilia.  It includes extensive full color maps generated by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Division of Geographic Information Systems, to illustrate the various identified routes through the State and the site specific locations of identified sites and resources associated with those routes. 

The W3R through New Jersey is one element of the greater W3R project aimed at designating the entire route of nine-states and the District of Columbia(Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) a National Historic Trail administered by the National Park Service.  The study lays the foundation needed to begin the research for nominating identified sites to the National Register of Historic Places, including portions of the trail where still in existence, and for a more inclusive interpretation of existing sites within the state.

The New Jersey Historic Trust will make the study available through its web site (www.njht.org)  after November 27, 2006.  Researchers will have access to the three volume publication as downloadable .pdf files.