Revolutionary History Comes Alive In Griggstown

Re-enactors portraying members of the First Rhode Island Regiment march down Canal Road.

Canal Road in Griggstown was once again trod upon by Revolutionary War soldiers adorned in their battle dress on August 28.

Well, not really, but close enough.

Re-enactors portraying members of the mostly African-American First Rhode Island Regiment helped with the commemoration of the 240th anniversary of the 700-mile march from New England to Virginia, culminating in the decisive battle of the war at Yorktown.

French troops, led by French General Comte de Rochambeau landed in Rhode Island, then marched to White Plains, New York, where they were met by American troops.

The allied armies then marched through New Jersey – including Canal Road – on their way to victory at Yorktown.

The march is memorialized by the National Park Service’s Washington Rochambeau National Historic Trail that stretches from New England to Virginia, according to a press release from the Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition. 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.

The event was sponsored by the Millstone Valley Preservation Coalition, of which Brad Fay is the president.

“About a quarter of the Army for the Americans who marched through here were either black or indigenous,” Fay said. “We know that because French officers documented that in their journals and letters.”

Fay said the armies were trying to fool the British, and at one point faked an planned attack on New York City.

Troops marching through the township defined the township’s borders, Fay said.

“Americans went down Route 27, which was King’s Highway, and the French went down Canal Road,” he said.

Later on August 28, a re-enactor portraying General George Washington mad an appearance, mounted on a white horse owned by the Barrood family. There were also re-enactors portraying the French Officers Rochambeau and Chastellux.

Here is a short video of the re-enactors in action:

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