Commemoration of the May 1781
WASHINGTON-ROCHAMBEAU CONFERENCE
at WETHERSFIELD, CONNECTICUT,
21 May (and week-end) 2006

The actual meeting between Washington and Rochambeau -- accompanied by their close staffs -- met during 21 and 22 May 1781 at Wethersfield, Connecticut. A re-enactment was conducted on 20-21 May 2006, the 225th Anniversary of this important meeting. Pictured above is General George Washington [Hugh Francis] and General Comte de Rochambeau [John Welsh]. Here the two Allied Commanders are officiating at the unveiling of the official "Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Historic Route" dedication marker commemorating the historic conference.

Historic Background to the Wethersfield Conference: In April 1781, the two commanders, General Washington and lieutenant-general Rochambeau learned that a French fleet under Admiral De Grasse was heading for the Caribbean islands. They scheduled a meeting for May 20 and 21, 1781, in Wethersfield, CT, to discuss a strategic plan for conducting the war. Generals Duportail, Knox, and Washington arrived early and established their headquarters at the Webb House. The following day they attended services at the Meeting House. The comte de Rochambeau and his officers arrived the next day around noon, staying at Stillman's Tavern. That evening, Governor Trumbull, Jeremiah Wadsworth, Washington and staff, and their French guests attended a concert given in their honor at the Meeting House. The two delegations met at the Webb House the next day. "Fixed with count Rochambeau the plan of campaign", Washington wrote in his diary. That night, Governor Trumbull, Jeremiah Wadsworth, Washington, Rochambeau and others enjoyed a celebretory dinner at Stillman's Tavern.


Washington and Rochambeau pausing on the porch of the Joseph Webb House (1752) before entering the Historic National Landmark which served as Washington's headquarters and the site of their historic conference. At left is Claude Blanchard, the French commissary general, portrayed by Dr. Robert Selig, the W3R historian and the featured guest lecturer for this commemorative event. The Silas Deane's House (1770) and the Isaac Stevens House (1789) are next door and part of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum complex. Silas Deane was one of Connecticut's delegates to the Continental Congress, and was dispatched to Paris as an official agent of Congress. He secretly enlisted officers and obtained military supplies for the American army. Later Congress appointed him, along with Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee, to negotiate an alliance with France, signed on February 6, 1778, along with a treaty of friendship and commerce.


Washington and Rochambeau are deep in thought after their conference at the Webb House, arriving on the green to summarize the results of their conference to the public. Behind the commanders are Colonel Keith Jones, Commander of the 5th Connecticut; and a grenadier officer [Bill Rose],of the Regiment Royal Deux-Ponts serving as Baron de Closen, an aide-de-camp to Rochambeau.


Rochambeau introduced Washington to Commissaire Blanchard who [for the purposes of this re enactment] acted as a translator between the Allied Commanders. In so doing, Dr Selig was able to summarize for the audience the commanders' stated positions, their differences in opinion, and the final agreement that led to the ultimate consequences of the conference.


Rochambeau gives serious thought to the strategic options. Nearby, his aide, Captain de Closen.


Captain Steven Taskovics commanding an honor guard from the Regiment Saintonge, passing in review before the generals.



At left, Captain de Closen [Bill Rose] listens to the cares of a Saintonge Chasseur [Todd Bailey].



Detail of the W3R marker.


Lieutenant-general Rochambeau in his 'full dress' uniform.



Sal Carmosino, a soldier of the 5th Connecticut, showing details of Rochambeau's personal headquarters flag, displaying the Royal Arms of France as the French King's representative in America.



The program on May 20 and 21, 2006 included: a Revolutionary military encampment on the museum grounds; Arrival of the French and American delegations; Official dedication ceremonies of the W3R marker; Conference between Washington and Rochambeau in the green behind the Webb House in Washington's HQ tent; Performances by the Colonel John Chester Fife and Drum Corps; Formation of troops on parade through town; a Choral Concert at the old Meeting House (now First Church of Christ); and Patron's dinner at the vintage Village Tavern.


Wethersfield 2006 photos provided by Mrs. Katie Sullivan,


LINKS to related websites:

The Washington - Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Historic Trail Association.

Les Régiments Français -- l'Armée de Terre Royale in the American War for Independence.

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Page posted as early draft 23 July 2006; modified 7 August 2006.