Waterbury in New Haven County, Connecticut — The American Northeast (New England)
Washington – Rochambeau Revolutionary Route
Waterbury, Middlebury, Southbury
This is one of 11 informative panels that mark the French route south through Connecticut from June 19 to July 2, 1781 and on the return north October 23 to November 9, 1782
A Hard Road
Not all of the 4,700 French soldiers who started out from Newport made it to Yorktown. Some succumbed to illness along the way. Two soldiers believed to have died in Waterbury were likely
Caring for ailing soldiers was an enterprise in many towns along the route. The town of Waterbury paid 15 shillings to Joseph Beach to purchase land for a burying ground. Beach owned an inn across the street, believed to be where the French soldiers were cared for before they died.
The land, four rods square, was part of St. Joseph's Meadow and is today East Farms Cemetery at 3155 East Main Street near Pierpont Road.
A six-foot high granite monument erected in 1914 to commemorate the two French soldiers still stands, surrounded by roughly two dozen 18th and 19th century gravesites.
Breakneck Lives Up To Its Name
The French army continued its march westward through Waterbury and into Camp 9 at what is today Middlebury, then a hamlet called Breakneck, on June 27, 1781.
The French called it "casse cou," or broken neck, with good reason. "The stony roads and endless mountains intersecting this area make it very disagreeable for travelers," wrote Baron Closen, Rochambeau's aide-de-camp. The Josiah Bronson Tavern at 506 Breakneck Hill Road hosted French general officers from June 27 to July 1, 1781 and again October 26-28, 1782. A monument marks the Breakneck encampment near the intersection of Artillery Road and Breakneck Hill Road.
The miles leading to the camp at Breakneck tested
Such was the pattern for all four divisions. After less than a fortnight's rest at Breakneck following the entertainment and trading with locals, each division got an early morning start for the 13 mile march through what is today Middlebury and Southbury to the next camp in Newtown.
Josiah Bronson Tavern
Located midway up Breakneck Hill, the tavern hosted French officers under comte de Rochambeau on their way to and from Yorktown. Entertainment at the tavern and the nearby camp gave the French the opportunity to socialize with the residents of Breakneck. Esther, the daughter of Josiah Bronson, was reportedly locked up by her father to keep her from eloping with a French officer.
East Farms Cemetery 1914 Memorial
This six-foot granite monument was erected and paid for by citizens and school children who brought pennies to school to help pay for the stone. It commemorates two French soldiers who died in Waterbury.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Revolutionary. Former U.S. Presidents: #01 George Washington, and the The Washington-Rochambeau Route series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is June 2003.
Location. 41° 33.414′ N, 73° 2.594′ W. Marker is in Waterbury, Connecticut, in New Haven County. Marker is at the intersection of West Main Street and Church Street, on the right when traveling east on West Main Street. Located at the west end of the Waterbury Green. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Waterbury CT 06702, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Present Settlement of Waterbury (a few steps from this marker); Waterbury Soldiers' Monument (a few steps from this marker); St. James Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Waterbury Veteran’s Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); POW / MIA Soldiers from Waterbury (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fortified House Of Ensign Stanley (about 400 feet away); Enoch Hibbard House (about 500 feet away); UNICO National (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Waterbury.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. The "Memorial To Two French Soldiers" in East Farms Cemetery is pictured on the marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on January 15, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 21, 2010, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 1,588 times since then and 36 times this year. Last updated on January 14, 2022, by Carl Gordon Moore Jr. of North East, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on September 21, 2010, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.