The W3R
Now a National Historic Trail !

On March 30, 2009, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which contained provisions designating the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route as a National Historic Trail

In March 2009, the provisions of the 'Washington -- Rochambeau Revolutionary Route' National Heritage Act of H.R. 4794 were amended to a related bill (H.R.146) which the House had passed and sent to the Senate for consideration. The focus of H.R.146 is to preserve battlefields of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The Senate passed H.R.146.EAS on March 19, 2009. The bill was then returned to the House, where it was debated and passed on March 25, 2009. President Obama signed the bill into law on March 30, 2009.

For the latest status and plans, visit the websites of:
The Washington - Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Historic Trail Association.

The reminder of this webpage has been left for viewers as a record of the actions that led to the success of the initiative.

Background on
Washington -- Rochambeau Revolutionary Route
National Heritage Act of 2000

H.R. 4794, that became Public Law 106-473

The 106th Congress of the United States, at the Second Session, the Senate and House of Representatives assembled, enacted into law a bill that directs the Secretary of the Interior to complete a resource study of the 600 mile route used by the allied armies of generals George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau in their epic march that led to the victory at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781.
The purpose of this study is to identify the scope of resources that currently, or thoses that could be added to more effectively, commemorate the historic event. In particular, the study would be a basis to identify possible, expanded involvement by the National Park Service with preservation and interpretation of the route. The bill also calls for the involvement of State and local historic activities in this assessment. Historic organizations and individuals interested in commemorating the heritage of the American Revolution should be aware of this initiative, which will have a particular focus on the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

H.R.4794 [now Public Law 106-473]

One Hundred Sixth Congress
of the
United States of America


Begun and held at the City of Washington on Monday,
the twenty-fourth day of January, two thousand

An Act

To require the Secretary of the Interior to complete a resource study of the 600 mile route through Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia, used by George Washington and General Rochambeau during the American Revolutionary War.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Heritage Act of 2000'.


(a) IN GENERAL-- Not later than 2 years after the date on which funds are made available to carry out this section, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate and the Committee on Resources of the House of Representatives, a resource study of the 600 mile route through Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia, used by George Washington and General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau during the American Revolutionary War.

(b) CONSULTATION-- In conducting the study required by subsection (a), the Secretary shall consult with State and local historic associations and societies, State historic preservation agencies, and other appropriate organizations.

(c) CONTENTS-- The study shall--
(1) identify the full range of resources and historic themes associated with the route referred to in subsection (a), including its relationship to the American Revolutionary War;
(2) identify alternatives for National Park Service involvement with preservation and interpretation of the route referred to in subsection (a); and
(3) include cost estimates for any necessary acquisition, development, interpretation, operation, and maintenance associated with the alternatives identified pursuant to paragraph (2).

Speaker of the House of Representatives. [signed]

President of the Senate pro tempore. [signed]

Approved 9 November 2000.

[Signed by the President of the United States on 4 December 2000.]

Allied generals and some of their staff at Yorktown, Virginia, 1781. Detail of painting by James Peale, executed some time after the surrender. Images are, from left to right: marquis de Lafayette, general George Washington, general Benjamin Lincoln, comte de Rochambeau, general Chastelleux, and colonel Tench Tilghman. [Initial work held by the Maryland Historical Society. A second like work is owned by Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. A third version is believed to be owned by descendents of Lafayette.]

The Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route [W3R]

On 16 December 1999, the W3R was organized at the Washington headquarters in Newburgh, New York. The route is essentially defined by march taken by the Continental Army of George Washington and by the French Army of comte de Rochambeau on their way to ultimate victory over British forces under the command of Maj. Gen. Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, Va., in 1781. The route also includes the march of the French army in 1782, as it returned back north to Boston.

The goal of the W3R is to encourage creation of a National Historic Trail with the registration of the entire approximately 600-mile route that passes through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, and to raise to a higher level the quality of heritage preservation all along the route. Work will also be directed toward linking the allied encampments with a self-guided auto route, ancillary hiking trails and appropriate historical signs.
The W3R working committee has evolved into a more formal association that continues to serve as a focal point for promoting the objectives of the National Heritage Act of 2000. In 2002, the committee established a website dedicated to its mission.

"Lighting Freedom's Flame" will be the rallying cry over the next eight years as historians from New England and the Mid-Atlantic states plan the 225th anniversary celebration of the American Revolution. The National Park Service is using the eight-year Revolutionary War anniversary both to enhance the public's understanding of the meanings and enduring legacy of the American Revolution and to protect historic resources and land associated with the war.

See National Park Service's website Lighting Freedom's Flame.
Note the link to their pdf format page on an 'Action Agenda for the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution Commemorative Initiatives'.

Background and Past Initiatives
Following summary has been abstracted largely from parts of an unpublished article, 'Travelling on the Washington-Rochambeau- Revolutionary-Route: Future, Present, and Past' by Dr. Robert A. Selig. 1925
Allan Forbes and Paul F. Cadman published France and New England. The work announced that an effort was to be made to mark 19 camp sites in Connecticut.

Charles Parmer undertook an individual effort to prod state governments and patriotic societies to fund and to mark the route.

Governor of Virginia appointed Charles Parmer to head a Rochambeau Commission and to arrange with other states for a uniform marking of the route taken in 1781.

The General Assembly of the State of Connecticut passed House Bill No. 2005, 'An Act concerning erecting Markers to designate the Sites of Camps occupied by the French troops under Rochambeau'. Funding led to the State Highway Commission placing 27 signs at or near known campsites in the state.

A portion of the 'Fourteenth Street Bridge' (for I-395, between the Jefferson Memoria in Washington, DC, and the Pentagon on the Virginia side of the Potomac River) was dedicated as the Rochambeau Memorial Bridge. This marked the last product of Mr. Parmer's work, as he died soon after the dedication.

Anne S.K. Brown and Howard Rice authored a ground-breaking, 2 volume study of The American Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783. The 2 volume work contained detailed itineraries as well as many maps drawn by the French military and other contemporaries. This work, published by Brown University, remains the primary focus for research on Rochambeau's camps in the United States.

US House of Representatives enacted a Concurrent Resolution 225 called upon local communities to recognize the route taken by Rochambeau as identified in the Rice-Brown study.

US Senate joined with the House of Representative in passing a resolution that created a 'Washington-Rochambeau Historic Route'. No funding was associated with the resolution, except for in Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, Virginia. A private, temporary organization, 'Washington- Rochambeau National Historic Route Committee' established itself in Yorktown, New York , to raise funds and to erect markers. A few of their signs survive.

The Commonwealth of Virginia designated a "Washington - Rochambeau Highway" for specified portions of the State Highway System between Historic Mount Vernon and the Bicentennial Victory Center in Yorktown. Road markers were emplaced and are maintained by the state Department of Highways and Transportation. These route-direction markings are not to be confused with historic highway markings and a few displays that have also been erected by other activities at points along the route.

From October 9-16, hundreds of re-enactors traced the route from Newport (RI) to Yorktown (VA) to commemorate the bicentennial of the siege. At various locations along the route, bicentennial events were held. Historic Mount Vernon held a special gala celebration to mark the visit of Rochambeau at Washington's home.

Status of Recent Initiatives
The Connecticut Historical Commission published, in 1999, a report that provides a rich historical background of Rochambeau's expedition, reviews past legislative actions to commemorate the Washington-Rochambeau Route. This work furnishes a framework for other communities to follow in pursuit of listing in the National Register the entire route, from Rhode Island to Virginia. The document is Rochambeau in Connecticut: Tracing His Journey, Historic and Architectural Survey by Dr. Robert A. Selig. This work reflects the most recent, in depth historical research on the presence of the French 1781-83 military expedition to North America. Dr. Selig produced an accompanying work, Rochambeau's Cavalry: Lauzun's Legion in Connecticut 1780-1781, which describes the winter quarters of Lauzun's Legion in Lebanon (CT) and that unit's march through the state in 1781. It also reviews the important strategic planning conferences held between Rochambeau and Washington in the Connecticut towns of Harford and Wethersfield. In addition, this second work contains detailed site survey reports. Copies of these documents can be obtained from: The Connecticut Historical Commission, 59 South Prospect St., Hartford, CT 06106-1901; e-mail: [email protected].
New York's study is available on line at:
The Washington - Rochambeau Revolutionary Route in the State of New York, 1781-1782 by Dr. Robert A. Selig.
Delaware has published its study, also researched by Dr. Robert A. Selig. The Delaware Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) also sponsored website for the SAR-W3R Liason Committee at
Similar work is progressing in the states of Rhode Island and Maryland. Virginia's status is described at Informal Status Report on the W3R in Virginia.

Some background on the historic march and campaign can be reviewed at the following websites:

Rochambeau's Army March to Yorktown

The Yorktown Campaign (1781)

Brigade of the American Revolution

This page is sponsored and supported by

Expédition Particulière
The Expédition Particuli�re Society sponsors Internet web sites and speaking programs commemorating the French military assistance to the American Revolution.

Page created 25 January 2001, revised 31 August 2011.