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240th Anniversary Of The March To American Independence To Be Celebrated Along D&R Canal

Re-enactor Algernon Ward will be among those participating in the anniversary celebration. (Photo: Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition.)

Submitted by the Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition.

The Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition (MVPC) is teaming up with Franklin Township on August 28 to commemorate the 700-mile victory march of American and French troops along the Millstone River 240 years ago.

Thousands of troops under the American General, George Washington, and the allied French General, Comte de Rochambeau marched through New Jersey in August 1781 on their way to the final major victory in the Revolutionary War in October at Yorktown, Virginia.

The march is memorialized by the National Park Service’s Washington Rochambeau National Historic Trail that stretches from New England to Virginia. The trail follows public roadways such as River Road in Hillsborough and Montgomery, and Canal Road in Franklin Township. Troops crossed the river twice, at the one-lane Griggstown Causeway bridge, and again at Route 518 near Rocky Hill.

Franklin Township will be hosting its occasional “Walk and Roll” event along the route between Amwell Road and Route 518, and Franklin police have organized a “Bike with Cops” event. In addition, reenactors will be present in the Griggstown village.

In the morning, a Trenton-based group will interpret the First Rhode Island Regiment, a mixed-race American unit that marched the trail and fought at Yorktown. Beginning at about 1pm, a reenactor of George Washington will ride a Griggstown horse, owned by the Barood family. In addition, two reenactors will interpret the French Officers Rochambeau and Chastellux, who led allied French troops who played a crucial role in the American victory.

For the event, Canal Road in Franklin from Amwell Road to Route 518 will be closed to through traffic from 10 AM to 4 PM on August 28 to encourage walking and biking on the narrow road. A half-mile section between Butler Road and the Griggstown Causeway will remain open as usual to permit east-west traffic to cross the Millstone River.

“This is a great opportunity for local residents to enjoy a scenic and historic roadway without the danger of fast-moving cars on the narrow road,” said Brad Fay, President of MVPC, which is the sponsor of the Millstone Valley National Scenic Byway that follows the same route. “We are grateful to Franklin Township for creating this fantastic outdoor recreation opportunity for the public.” 

The event will be one of several 240th anniversary events organized in conjunction with the National Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association (W3R-US), a non-profit partner to the national trail, and its local New Jersey chapter. Also on August 28, William Trent House in Trenton will be hosting a large American and French reenactor event. Both events will occur throughout the day, and organizers encourage the public to spend the morning at one event and the afternoon at the other.

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