Hartford in Hartford County, Connecticut — The American Northeast (New England)
Washington – Rochambeau Revolutionary Route
French General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, and thousands of French ground and naval forces arrived in Newport in July of 1780 to assist the Americans in the War for Independence. After wintering in Newport, Rochambeau's troops marched through Connecticut to join General George Washington's Continental Army just over the New York border. The combined forces moved down the eastern seaboard and confronted Lieutenant General Earl Cornwallis and the British army in Yorktown, Virginia. After a prolonged siege, Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, 1781, virtually ending the war and ensuring American independence.
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.
Planning for the joint military venture that eventually led to the British defeat at Yorktown started with an official meeting of General George Washington and comte de Rochambeau near here.
When Rochambeau arrived in Hartford on September 20, 1780, he was greeted by Washington and a 13-gun salute from the Governor's Guard after crossing the Connecticut River. Almost all of Hartford's 5,000 inhabitants lined the route from the ferry landing to the site of the current Old State House. The two men then walked a few blocks south to Jeremiah Wadsworth's home, where the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art now stands at 600 Main Street.
The French and American officers who accompanied Washington and Rochambeau to Hartford likely were lodged at David Bull's Tavern, marked by "The Sign of the Bunch of Grapes." The tavern was also used by French officers during the army's march across Connecticut in 1781 and the return march in 1782 after the battle of Yorktown. A plaque at the Bank of America Building at 777 Main Street marks where Bull's Tavern once stood.
This salute of honor was modeled after the naval practice of emptying a ship's cannons upon entering a harbor as a sign the ship was unarmed and peaceful. An American warship under John Paul Jones fired
A Lifelong Bond
Washington brought to Hartford an eight-page outline for an operation in New York City. The marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman who had been in the service of Washington since early in the Revolution, translated on paper the key points for each side. The conference was cut short when late on September 21 news arrived of a British naval buildup off the East Coast. Both generals left for their armies' headquarters to prepare separately. Fortunately, no immediate attack from the sea followed.
Although the Hartford conference ended without a finalized plan, it was important as the first face-to-face meeting where the bond between the two commanders was born. Washington and Rochambeau met again in Wethersfield in May 1781 and continued planning how the two armies would work together.
Soon after 4,700 French troops began to move south through Connecticut and joined the Continental Army in what is now White Plains New York. French and American forces were directed toward Yorktown in August 1781 after the French navy entered the Chesapeake Bay near Virginia, giving the allies an advantage against Britain's Lord Cornwallis.
Washington and Rochambeau, along with marquis de Lafayette, held meetings and were entertained at Jeremiah Wadsworth's home on Main Street. His son, Daniel, donated the property in 1841 for the construction of the Wadsworth Atheneum, America's oldest public art museum. This rendering shows the house after it was moved to the south side of Buckingham Street. It was torn down in 1887. Courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society Museum.
Jeremiah Wadsworth (1743 – 1804) (far left)
Born in Hartford, Jeremiah Wadsworth was the son of the Reverend Daniel Wadsworth, pastor of the First Church of Christ, and Abigail Talcott, the daughter of Governor Joseph Talcott. When he was only four years old, Wadsworth lost his father and was raised by his uncle, Matthew Talcott (1713-1802), a Middletown sea captain, merchant, and ship owner. He went to sea at 18 on one of his uncle's vessels, rising to the rank of captain. His experience as a merchant lead to success as a commissary obtaining supplies first for Connecticut troops, then as commissary general of purchases in 1778 at Washington's insistence. He served in Congress from 1787-1791 and 1793-1795, thus being a member of the First Federal Congress. Courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society Museum.
Reported in The Connecticut Courant and the Weekly Intelligence, September 26, 1780, following the Hartford conference:
". . . The greatest satisfaction was expressed by the parties at this meeting, and the highest mark of polite respect and attention were mutual . . ."
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19th century rendering of Washington greeting Rochambeau Courtesy of the Governor's Footguard Armory
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Revolutionary. In addition, it is included in the The Washington-Rochambeau Route series list.
Location. 41° 45.954′ N, 72° 40.384′ W. Marker is in Hartford, Connecticut, in Hartford County. Marker is at the intersection of American Row and Main Street, on the right when traveling west on American Row. Located in front of Connecticut's Old State House. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 800 Main Street, Hartford CT 06103, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Marquis de La Fayette (a few steps from this marker); Prudence Crandall (a few steps from this marker); World's First Pay Telephone (within shouting distance of this marker); Stephen A. Douglas (within shouting distance of this marker); Last Horse Drawn Trolley In Hartford (within shouting distance of this marker); Horace Wells (within shouting distance of this marker); The First Meeting of Washington and Rochambeau (within shouting distance of this marker); Governor's Foot Guard (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hartford.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on June 25, 2011, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 929 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 25, 2011, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.