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October 26, 2006

March Date October 7, 2006 March Day 113

Good Day to all March to Yorktown Followers and Supporters ~

The wind and rain is relentless on this second day of the correctly predicted Nor'easter. Thunder rolls and lightning flashes in the early morning darkness.
Mike hints at postponing the day's march, hoping the men will agree but the soldiers will have none of it. Come hell or high water has arrived...and the time is now.

The soldiers prepare, dressing again in layers for warmth and topped with their oilcloths, thankful for the night's dry lodging and now dry clothing. The troops are transported to the Capitol at Williamsburg for today's starting point, and as we travel Francis Street in this quiet deserted town, we note many carriage headlights approaching our rear. We stop the carriages, the soldiers alight and stand in the pouring rain, in salute as the President's carriage entourage passes us by on their way to today's dedication of the new aircraft carrier in Newport News. Back into the carriages to the end of Francis Street for the start of today's march. We join hands in prayer for the last time.

The day's miles will be approximately 15, a difficult trek in the second day of storm conditions, but the army is determined to reach their goal as they set out on Pocahontas Trail of route 60. With Richard's arrival, the day's logistics with additional driver will be easier and the support carriage sets out to determine camp Martha's route and bring her forward to Yorktown.

Of all days to experience a glitch in directions, we find the army off course on busy route 199 instead of the Merrimac Trail of route 143. We confer at the side of the heavily travelled road with fast carriages speeding by, and decide that to correct this mile error, the army need be transported back. Half of the men board the small carriage, leaving the rest on the highway where a passing mistress and her children take pity on them and forwards the drenched men to the group at Merrimac Trail. The army begins again.

The support wagon now continues into Yorktown, finding the section of Water Street just that....flooded and closed to carriage traffic. We drive to higher ground and stop at the Visitors' Center where we chat with National Park Service Rangers John Short and Ted Fort. Word of the army's arrival here has preceeded us. Recent newspaper clippings have been posted and we are cordially given carte blanche to visit the Battlefield at any time.

Richard and Rose now take this opportunity to travel back to the Williamsburg Inn to fetch camp Martha forward to the French Trench Overlook on the York River. We pass the men, marching on course, soaked in the driving rain. One more carriage trip is needed...to fetch Richard's van forward from Francis Street in Williamsburg. All the while, the rain continues in sheets. Richard comments that this is the closest to being in a wave on land.

The army has now travelled route 238, passing the Yorktown Victory Center where they are given a musket salute, and continuing by the Riverwalk into the center of Yorktown. They take welcome refuge at York Hall on Main Street, a mere one quarter mile from our final destination. Here we are greeted by Cheryl Sanderman of York County Parks and Recreation who has arranged a wonderful welcome reception.

There is hot tea and coffee, sweets, smiles, handshakes and hugs. We are joined by Ursula and the Shumbos, and many photographs are taken before we are ushered into a reception room for formalities. We are officially welcomed and congratulated by Dan Smith, Superintendant of Colonial National Historic Parks, County Administrator James McReynolds, County Board of Supervisors Sheila Noll, Comte de Grasse Chapter DAR Nan Fogler, 96th District State Representative Melanie Rapp, York County Historical Museum Director Bonnier Karwac, and Parks and Recreation Supervisor David Meredith and his lovely wife "Sam". The four original marchers are each gifted with Victory at Yorktown posters, and the group is presented a framed Salute to the Military 1781-2006 poster and the commemorative Yorktown 225th medallion.

During this time, the rains have relented and the group now forms a line on Main Street facing southeast. This is the moment for which we have strived. Cadence is called and the final steps begin. Under the still dark skies, we march to the majestic Monument of Victory. We stand quietly, in reverance and gratitude, awed by the magnificence of our experience and remembering the great sacrifices given for the purpose of our free nation. Liberty surely did not come free. For a time, we are each lost in our thoughts as we walk the base of the monument and gaze at Lady Liberty.

The Yorktown Waterfront Tavern is our next refuge, (of course!) and here, across the street on the stretch of sandy beach, is our last ceremony. Richard has brought the 6th Connecticut's regimental pewter bowl, and we fill it with the bottle of Rochambeau wine given to us 113 days ago by Paul Graham at Waterman's Tavern, our first night's camp in Coventry, Connecticut. The bowl is passed....Richard, David, Rose, Mike and Dave all sip its contents...surely the best full, rich, red wine this writer has EVER tasted....round and round until empty. We have realized our dream.

Richard soon departs northward for home...David and Rose drive camp Martha to relatives in Poquoson, Dave and Mike return to Williamsburg motels. The day is done....the march is done. HUZZAH!! Nous sommes finis!!

Merci, Tout le monde...
Avec amour,

October 21, 2006

1781, March Date, Saturday, Oct 21, Day 129

Homestead Headquarters...

Greetings Froiends and Patriots...

Please forgive this late post. The events of the last couple of days, and most notably yesterday, the 19th have been most overwhelming. Combine that fact, with the need to still be on duty, have left but little time to write. We still have the Army on alert, Ole' corny is a wily and dangerous enemy, or was...


When yesterday, I wrote to you of some of the end games that have come undone for the enemy, I had not the time to finish the dispatch. Much, much more has happened here in this Town of Yorktown. The last dispatch ended with the British sortie across the York River and a possible break-out from Gloucester, to the north. That action was foiled by the gods of weather, to which we shall ever owe our due.

Ole' Corny then, on the 17th, asked for a parley.... a lone drummer on the battered earthen works beating the parley...to discuss terms of surrender, asking for 24 hours to do so. In that time the appointment of commisioners would be made, to discuss and settle the surrender terms. Gen. Washington thought it was to long a time to wait, knowing that Corny was expecting British re-inforcements at any time, and asked that Cornwallis write his surrender proposals before the Commisioners were to meet....and a suspension of hostilities for two hours would be allowed for Cornwallis to do so...The Earl complied with Gen. Washington's request and sent his proposals, but they were rejected....General Washington then made a counter-offer of terms, that was generally accepted by Cornwallis. The capitulation had begun... HUZZAH...

Col. Jhn Laurens and Vis. de Noailles (Lafayette's brother-in-law) were appointed the two commisioners on behalf of the Allies. Col. Ross and Lt. Col. Dundas on behalf of the British. They met on the morning of the 18th, but to no final avail, the entire day being spent in conferences and negotiations. We could see, from the defensive lines, all the comings and goings of the various particpants to the talks. Flags a'blowing, uniforms bright and clean, all spit and polish, t'was the sight to see and we all strained to get a good look...... this was, afterall, a moment to remember.

Gen. Washington should not, could not and would not allow any further delay of the signing of the terms, and early on the morning of the 19th sent a transcript of the terms to Cornwallis, for signature. We are told that he demanded they be signed by 11 of the Clock, that morning, and that the troops to be marched out of the Garrison for surrender, by 2 of the Clock in the Afternoon.....

The British, having no where to go, had to oblidge, and thus they did, much to the rousing satisfaction of the Army entrenced about them. We have been on the march since June, from Newport, some 4 months ago. Tis finally that we are here, at this place, at this moment, to perhaps put an end to the continuing British injustices in America. We no longer think of ourselves as subjects of the King, nor have we for some time, and now, all the world knows it. We are about to be free.....

At the appointed hour of 2 of the clock in the Afternoon, the garrisons at the Towns of York and Gloucester, the shipping in the harbor, all of the ordinance, amunition and stores, were surrendered to the land and naval forces of America and France, after a siege of some 13 days.
The Battle is won, the enemy has surrendered, I am still alive.........

The excitement of the moment is overwhelming, with tears of joy and relief for us all. The Terms of Surrender, at least a brief form of them, have been posted and they are as such......
I. The garrisons at York and Gloucester to surrender themselves prisoners of war, the land troops to remain prisoners to the United States-the naval forces to to the Naval Army of the French.
II. The artillery, stores, etc to be delivered to the proper Officers, to receive them.
III. The two redoubts captured on the 16th, to be surrendered, one to the Americans, one to the French troops. The garrrison at York to march out at Two of the Clock in the Afternoon, with shouldered arms, colours cased, and the drums beating: there to lay down their arms and return to the encampment. The works on the Gloucester side to be delivered to the Americans and French; the garrison there to lay down their arms at Three of the Clock in the Afternoon.
IV. The Officers to retain their side-arms, papers and personal property. Also, the property of the Loyalists found in the garrison to be retained.
V. The soldiers to be kept in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and to be subsisted by the Americans. British, Anspach and Hessian Officers, allowed to be quartered near them, and supply them with clothing and necessities.
VI. The Officers to be allowed to go on parole to Europe, or to any part of the American Confederacy: proper vessels to be granted by the Count de Grasse to convey them, under flags of truce, to New York, within 10 days, if they choose; passports to be granted to those who choose to go by land.
VII. Officers allowed to keep soldiers as servants; and servants, not soldiers, not to be considered prisoners.
VIII. The ship Bonetta to be under the entire control of Cornwallis, to go to New York with Dispatches, and then to be delivered to Count de Grasse.
IX. Traders not considered prisoners of war, but on parole, and allowed three (3) months to dispose of their property, or remove it.
X. Loyalists not to be punished on account of having joined the British Army. (Washington did not assent to this article, considering it a civil matter)
XI. Proper hospitals to be furnished for the sick and wounded, they to be atended by British surgeons.
XII. Wagons to be furnished, if possible, for the carrying of Officers attending the Soldiers, and of the Hospital-surgeons when traveling on account of the sick.
XIII. The shipping and boats in the two harbors (York, Gloucester), with all their appendages, arms, and stores, to be delivered up un-impaired after the private property was unloaded.
XIV. No article of this capitulation to be infringed upon by pretext of reprisal: and a fair interpretation to be given, according to the common meaning and acdeptation of the words.......

These Articles were signed by Lord Cornwallis and Thomas Symonds, the Naval commander in the York River, for the British..... and by Gens. Washington and Rochambeau, and by Adm. De Grasse and De Barras, for tha Allies.....

Will write of the Grand Surrender Ceremonies, in the next post. I am now oblidged to take my station, with my mates,in conducting the surrender terms..... soonest...

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
Homestead Headquarters
For, 'AMtY'

October 20, 2006

1781, March Date, Friday, Oct. 20, Day 126

Homestead Headquarters....

Greetings Friends and Patriots....

The walls are tumbing down, this Day of Days..... Oh, I am so excited that I can barely contain my hand on the page. The world, our world, your world has been changed, indeed..... but first, let me bring you up to date on the last couple of days here at the Town of York.

My last despatch to you concerned the taking of Redoubts #9 & 10. I have a bit more intelligence concerning that moment.......... the American attack, commanded by Hamilton, was swift in its resolve and its finality. The Americans made a rather impetous rush, pulling the defensive 'abattis' aside with their hands, knocking down the palisades, leaping over the ditch and scrambling up the redoubts walls and into the enemy works. Tis happened so fast that the enemy could do naught but surrender. The Americans never fired a musket, taking the redoubt by the point of the bayonet only......it happened so fast that the American losses were but 9 killed and thirty-two wounded. The Commander of the British redoubt, Major Campbell, was taken prisoner with 17 of the garrison there, with 8 of the defenders being killed. It is reported that the cry of the Americans, as they mounted the assault, was, "Remember New London"!.... you may recall my report of the dissatisfaction of the Arm y concerning the British actions at that Fort. Let it be said that the Americans acted with mercy, and did not follow the lead of the British atrocity at New London......

The French were not so rapid in their assault and suffered consequences. They determined to do 'european style' and cut the abattis, all the time suffering a mortal fire from the British entrenched there. The French loss of life was considerable, with no accounting at this time. The Regiment Gatanais restored its name to a place of honor.

It is said that Gen. Washington kept himself constantly exposed to the dangers of the furious British cannonade that began as the Allied assault began...... tis many stories I can relate but will hold for another time. Let it be known that while the British did not counter-attack on the redoubts, they did stiffen their cannonade.

The two captured redoubts were now a part of the new parrallel line that had been dug, facing the British defensive works. Shortly thereafter, the heaviest of the guns (cannons) taken from the French ships were mounted there and began their awful work. The allied cannonade was now having tremendous effect upon the Town. Ole' Corny's situation was becoming difficult, we could all see.... that was some days ago, on the 14th.

But we must say that Corny is a dangerous enemy, always alert to the changing situation. Apparently, his thoughts of surrender were not yet in his mind, though we thought that they should be. It seems he ordered an attack, on the 16th Oct.. This took us a bit by surprise, I must admit, we being sure the final cards had already been played. To retard the progress of our 2nd parrallel line, a sortie of some 350 British troops, composed of Foot Guards and Light Infantry, under the command of Col. Abercrombie, assaulted in a stealth manner, the new French Batteries. The attack began a bit before day-break. Abercrombie divided his force into two detachments, sending the Guards against one of the batteries and the Light Infantry against the other. Both attackes were made with furious dash and alacrity...the French were surprised, overrun and driven from the works. The British were able to spike all the guns in the works, and killed an estimated 100 of the French defenders, b less their Papist souls......shortly thereafter, support came from the French trenches and drove the British back out of the works..... the cannon had been so quickly, but poorly spiked, that the French were able to get the guns working in short order, again wreaking havoc on the Town below. For just a moment it was a close thing.......

But tis not over just yet, it seems..... that moment having failed the British plan, another soon took its place, much to our very surprise. Corny, not one to consider surrender easily, was not done.... During the night of the 16th, it seems, a plan was devised to move the Army across the York River to the British garrison at Gloucester, that being commanded by Tarleton (you remember him, I am sure). Perhaps the plan was to move the Army across the river, leave the sick and infirmed, join with Tarleton and take on Gen. Choisy, Lauzon's Legion and the Virginia Militia, in hopes of fighting their way eventually to New York. A bold and ambitious plan, no doubt.... It seems that in the night, members of the Guard, also the 23rd Regiment, must have embarked in boats to go to Goucester. This was done so secretly that we think that perhaps none of the allies, on either side of the river, knew it was happening. We can only surmise at this point as we do not have any documnets, only knowing the fact that a storm came up over-night, and numbers of British soldiers were seen coming back from Gloucester, to Yorktown, upon which we did fire...... tis another close thing, very close...... thanks to Providence for the storm that unveiled this latest plan.

On the 17th, more batteries of allied cannon opened up upon the Town. It does not seem that the land could stay above water with all the cannon shot landing there. Tis must be hell for the British thugs to endure...but we are not sorry. Later on, about noon of the 17th, we saw a lone drummer, beatng the parley. Corny had proposed a cessation of hostilities for some 24 hours, and that commisioners be appointed, so that terms of surrender might be conducted, and settled. The loudest cheer was heard at that moment that the drummer appeared on the battered earthen works.

Gen. Washington, seems to be fearing that Corny is fretting time away time waiting for re-inforcements from Clinton in New York, objected to the long delay. We can only assume that the surrender terms will be made known to us soon..... that is where we are at the moment, the cannonade has ceased, the world is quiet, for the first time in days.... sleep is but a blink away, with hopes that this moment shall come to some good fruition.......will write again soonest.

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
Homestead Headquarters
For, 'AMtY'

October 19, 2006

1781, Part 2, Surrender Ceremony, Oct. 19th

Homestead Headquarters...

Greetings Friends and Patriots.....

As I was writing before being called to duty, the Grand Surrender Ceremony was scheduled for the afternoon, at Two of the Clock, on the 19th Oct. I have already indicated to you the Terms of the Surrender, and those that signed the Agreement.

Under the Terms by General Washington, the British were to step out of the Garrison, to lay down their Arms on the Surrender Field....and thus it happened.

The news of the Capitulation generated wide interest in the surrounding area, certainly among the civilian population. The Publick showed up, by the thousands. It seems there were at least as many spectators as there were those about to Capitulate.

General Lincoln was appointed by Gen. Washington to conduct the surrender, which was upon the same terms as those prescribed to Lincoln when he was forced to surrender Charlestown. There can be no doubt that Lincoln was much pleased to act as such.

At about Twelve of the Clock Noon, the combined French and American Army was drawn up in two lines, on the road from Yorktown, to Hampton, Virginia. The troops created a line a mile long, with the American troops on the right side of the road, the French on the left. At the head of the line were General Washington, upon his most trusted mount, Nelson....and at the head of the other line sat Gen. Rochambeau, on a handsome bay horse, surrounded by his cadre of Officers. The French troops were in complete uniforms, presenting a very military appearance. The Americans, though not as well dressed, some in rags, exhibited the most military appearance possible, of a Soldier at Arms (attention). It is said that Gen. Washington cautioned his troops, saying, "My boys, let there be no insults over a conquered foe, when they lay down their arms, don't huzzah, posterity will huzzah for you". It is also said that the British were amazed at the number of 'blacks' in the Americna ranks, perhaps as many as twenty per-cent of the troops assembled. They may have been surprised, we were not.........

At Two of the Clock in the Afternoon, the captive Army came out of the entrenchments, and began to advance between the lines of the Allies. We all expected to see Lord Cornwllis to attend, and were much dissappointed when informed that he was 'ill'. He had appointed Gen. O'Hara in his place, to attend the Surrender ceremonies. O'Hara, handsome in his full uniform, walked his horse at the head of the column of British troops. He was followed by the soldiers, all with shouldered arms, colors cased, and the drum beating a British march.

Oh, the moment. Oh, the feelings, the emotions that run through my body, my eyes tearing at the sight. The rememberance of friends left behind, of friends lost, of family tossed from homes, of unfairness in the courts, of brutality, and starvation, and want, and need, and hatred, and hatred, and hatred.........

But I digress, let us return to the moment...... the martial beat of the drum, the line of Redcoats, marching before my eyes.....betwen the lines of the Allied troops. The British only looked to their left, to the French troops, adding a last insult to the Americans. The good Gen. Lafayette, noticing this slight, by the loosers to the victors, ordered that 'Yankee Doodle' be played by the his Military Band. Thus did the British look to the right, but not at all pleased to do so..

While I was not at the head of the line, with the General Officers, it was reported that Gen. O'Hara first offered the Sword of Lord Cornwallis to Gen. Rochambeau, who then politely suggested that it be given to Gen. Washington, who then politely suggested that it be given to Gen. Lincoln. And thus it was....

The Royal Army was resplendent in its uniform, having all received new uniforms for the Surrender Ceremony. Lord Cornwallis would have it no other way of course. The British troops were haggard in their step and march, some thought they must be drunk, or afflicted in some way. And at the moment of the laying, or in some cases, throwing down of arms, their mortification was best displayed. The embarrassment of giving the order to 'Ground Arms' was exceedingly noticed by all. Apparently it t'was done in a most un-military manner. Some British soldiers cried, some laid their arms gently, others threw them down with disgust. Do'est not matter, the thing is done.. the arms are done, the surrender is almost completed...

And then came the surrender of the Regimental Colours. Oh, the anger of the momnent, the trying of their souls, the pain ...... Tis a moment that every soldier would wish not to happen, that his Regiment had failed, been captured,and giving up the colours to the enemy the worst wound of all....we could see the dissappintment and the anger, the embarrassed moment, the shame of it all...we are just glad tis not us that is doing the giving up...

Twenty eight (28) British Captains, each with a cased Regimental Colour, were drawn up on the parade, in a line. Opposite to them, at a distance of but six (6) paces, twenty-eight American Sergeants were drawn up, to receive the cased Colours. An American Ensign, still unknown, was appointed by Col. Hamilton, as Officer of the Day, to conduct the ceremony.. The Ensign ordered the two lines to advance toward eash other, for but two paces, but the British demurred.... The British were un-willing to present their Colours to Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO's). Hamilton, sitting ahorse, noticed this hesitation of the British, and ordered that the Colours all be given to the Ensign, which was accomplished. He then handed the Colours to the assembled Sergeants.

When all the ceremonial surrender work was accomplished, the British troops were conducted back to their lines, under sufficient guard. The French and American trops were directed back to their respective lines, to await the morrow.... tis must be said that we hardly knew how to act at the moment. We were so relieved, and happy...yet, New York was still under the British boot heel, and what would become of us next? Must we now needs to march back to the north, in the appraoching winter, to face the British there....?

I shall report more, as soon as I am able..... for now, the peace allows us to drink hard, and rest, to chat about the fires, and express our wonder and happiness at the current situation, to take stock, perhaps to rest a moment or two... we are victors, winners in the game now...free?, how wonderful that small word do'est sound......free to do what? We have won, tis sure, but to what end, now?

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
For, 'A Homestead Headquarters

October 18, 2006

March Date Friday October 6, 2006 March Day 112

Good Day to all March to Yorktown followers and supporters ~

Despite our prayers, the winds and heavy rains begin during the night. Damon, again dressed in her civvies, taps on Rose's door in the early morning darkness. Ready for the road home, Damon is saying her goodbyes to the group. And again, I realize how much I will miss this courageous soft-spoken lass with the easy smile.

The men grimly prepare for the day knowing it will be a difficult march in the first day of this predicted two-day nor'easter. Their clothing is in layers for warmth, outer layer of oil cloth, knowing from experience that this too will eventually soak through. Only the men will march today - the Shumbos, accompanied by Ursula, will drive Dave's small carriage for the day's duration.

Rose transports the men to today's starting point on Rochambeau Drive at the outskirts of York County....talk is of the sixteen + miles they must cover and setting camp this night on the Williamsburg green....this, our next to last day of reaching our final destination. In the carriage, avoiding the rain until the last moment, we join hands and pray for the men's safety and stamina. The day's journey begins, the men's steps quicken, the colours wave in the wet wind. The support wagon moves ahead a few miles and awaits the men's passing. They do not stop and one can see the determination in their step and on their faces.

As the army passes the Williamsburg Historical Inn/visitor's welcoming center, they see two lone people waving to them in support. Temporary refuge is taken in the warm, dry lobby and we learn that Wanda Viera, desk manager (and tavern wench in Colonial Williamsburg's night life!) is sympathetic to the army's cause. She sends Russell Husted in search of hot chocolate and the group is soon warming their innards with hot tea and chocolate. Wanda hears the group discussing possible alternatives for tonight's camp - no one is looking forward to setting canvas in this storm - and offers rooms at the inn for pittance payment. We vow to return at day's end, even if we need to sell the horses!

Rested and warmed, the men continue on busy route 60, turn onto Lafayette, then North Henry toward the main historical road of Duke of Gloucester. Here we are met by additional supporters - Bentley Boyd and son Truman, and Ron Carnegie who portrays George Washington and is our liason here at Williamsburg. Our ranks swell as we are joined by Ursula and the Shumbos, and we proceed to march the length of this pedestrian way, finishing at the Capitol building. Many photographs are taken by and of the group, and by passing tourists. It is obvious to them that something special is happening here.

We are greeted by Richard Josey, Manager of Actor Interpretors who personnally escorts and accommodates us at the Shield's Tavern with warm sustenance. The group occupies an entire room on the second floor of this tavern, consuming warm cider and tea, gumbo and chowder, feeling "saved." Spirits are high as we realize there is but one more day's march....and as they say, come hell or high water. ... The latter being a distinct possibility.

Priority now is the men's lodging. Ursula and the Shumbos have taken lodging at a local motel, and the marchers return by carriage to the Williamsburg Inn where Wanda presents us to her manager Louis Blanco. No horses need be sold....Mr. Blanco donates two dry warm rooms (with showers!) at his inn free of charge. Dave cannot wait for his room at the inn and leaves with the Shumbos for shower and warmth. David, Mike, Travis and Rose now travel, still in the pouring rain, the day's route back to Toano to fetch camp Martha forward (for the last time?). The remainder of the afternoon is spent getting warm and dry.

It is during this "down" time that we receive a most unexpected, but most welcomed, visitor. Richard Swartwout has travelled for many hours from Connecticut colony, alone, through darkness and rain, to be among the group again as we enter Yorktown on the morrow. He reports that after more than one sleepless night, he felt compelled to come. This is definitely a cause celebre. Mike, Dave and Travis have gone for evening sustenance with Ursula, Keleigh and the Shumbo children, so David, Rose and Richard - all of the 6th Connecticut Regiment - dine together adult style at the Angus Grille. There are spirits in our glasses and in our hearts. We feast on steak, ribs and shrimp - and toast to our dream that has come true.

It is not a late hour as we retire to our beds, almost two months since the soldiers have slept in one. Richard turns into his self-contained van...Rose turns into her bunk in George...the pelting rain on the thin roof a percussion lullabye. A demain.

Avec amour,

October 16, 2006

March Date Thursday October 5, 2006 March Day 111

Good Day to all March to Yorktown followers and supporters ~

David does not call reveille on this morning....Mike has requested to wake "on his own." Rose and David are the usual early risers and are dressed and waiting as the rest of the group emerges from the grist mill. It is a clear morning and still warm with temperatures in the 60's as we say goodbye to our hosts Debbie and Willy.

As we will be passing the Kent County Courthouse on our way to today's starting point, we bring camp Martha forward and leave her there for the day. The men are then transported to yesterday's finish on Stage Road, hands are joined for the daily prayer and they are off. Rose returns to the Courthouse area to prepare the day's provisions and take advantage of the local post, then intercepts the marchers.

The day has warmed up to 78 degrees...sunny for the most part. We are briefly visited by Stran Trout who has found the men walking on a most deserted stretch of dirt road....he is checking on their progress and brings a DVD gift of photos and maps.

As Rose waits in the parking area of a small local shop, she is approached by a mistress who has stopped here for provisions. This lady has seen the colorful marchers up the road and questions who, what, where, why? Her curiosity satisfied, she shops and drives away in her carriage. It is not until the men stop here for a brief rest and hope of procuring ice cream, that we learn from the shopkeeper of this mistress' generosity. She has quietly left a monetary donation with the shopkeeper...to be used for whatever the army will purchase here to ease their thirst or hunger as they march. And we never did learn her name or residence.

As the march progresses along route 746, we see our first sign for Williamsburg/Yorktown/Jamestown on the parallel highway where fast carriages seem to fly by the army. This is reassuring proof that our ultimate destination is within reach...spirits soar and there is a sudden spring in the men's step. There are no more complaints of sore feet. The day's march covers 15.5 miles and we return to the Courthouse to fetch Martha. By this late afternoon, the parking lot is almost empty of the day's carriages and we see a paper under the carriage windshield. Surely we have not received another violation ticket? No...not in this kind County. 'Tis a gift from Pam Crosby...a most kind letter of appreciation, CD and copies of the previous day's photographs . We continue to receive.

Martha is brought to our night's camp at Taono Upper County Park, prearranged by Stephanie Deal of James City County Parks and Recreation. This handsome park with large fire-placed shelter is deserted save for our presence. We find the Shumbo family has arrived...Keleigh and all four children....to rejoin us for our entrance into Yorktown. Ursula Reed from Philadelphia arrives as our special guest and everyone settles in for an evening and meal before the fire. David and Rose detach Martha from George and travel to his cousin's home in Poquoson where his new clothing has been delivered. The camp is dark and quiet on their return....Damon asleep in her carriage, the rest of the group nestled in their beds under the shelter's roof.

We have but two more days of our long journey southward....we have heard from the locals that the weather prediction is not good. Some talk of a 'Nor-easter with heavy rains. A fitting ending for the army's long march? We retire, praying for clear skies.
A demain.

Avec amour,

March Date Wednesday October 4, 2006 March Day 110

Good Day to all March to Yorktown followers and supporters ~

We wake in the dark reveille...one can hear the distant hounds through the wood. We are still in hunt country. As we prepare for the day, Damon reappears, having spent the night in her carriage very close to, but not among us. Dave's directions again, eh?

The day becomes clear and sunny and we tarry a bit on this beautiful estate by taking a cart ride down to the banks of the wide Pamunkey River. The local hounds, five in all, saunter by with their noses to the ground, following the river bank ....they are unescorted and apparently familiar with the estate grounds. David, in the small carriage, fetches us to begin the day's march and we drive round about a copse of trees in the great field. Enough play, we are off.

Today's route will be the less travelled Old River Road of route 608, again winding along through forest with few dwellings passed and not too closely bordering the Pamunkey Indian reservation. En route, the army is greeted by the local militia (translate sheriff) who shakes each hand in turn and promises a flashing carriage escort along the busier New Kent Road route 249 which does not afford a shoulder area for walking.

True to his word, "Wakie" Howard Jr. assures the men's safety. The army stops at the elementary and middle schools in the town of New Kent. At recess, the children excitedly run to the fence enclosure to speak with the soldiers. We continue to the New Kent Courthouse where the locals have anticipated our arrival and have prepared a warm welcoming reception. Many photographs are taken, the marchers are introduced and given mementos by Stran Trout. Among those present from the New Kent County Complex are Board Supervisor Mark Hil, Executive Secretary Krista Jones and elected officials. Adiministrative Secretary Pam Crosby mingled and photographed often. (my personal thanks to Pam for allowing me acess to the communication carrier!) Refreshments are served and enjoyed, especially the grand red/white/blue decorated cake welcoming the marchers...and Herb Jones kindly donates to our horses' feed.

Our militia escort continues the length of New Kent Highway and we are left to carry on as we again turn onto rural Stage Road. The day's march is called to an end at the 14.5 mile mark, another day very much closer to Yorktown.

The troop is hungry and we drive via carriage to St.Peter's Church for nooning. The church and grounds are very beautiful and one can easily imagine George courting Martha here. If actually the site of their marriage....the controversy continues.

We return to Marengo to fetch camp Martha forward and spend a short leisure time enjoying the surroundings....Dave and Damon chat under the shade of a tree, David swims in the Pamunkey, Rose relaxes in the rope hammock at river's edge, and Mike and Travis make a short provision run. We proceed to Crump's Mill, home of our hosts for the evening, Debbie and Willy Downs. A reception party is in progress at this 19th century grist mill being lovingly restored by the owners. The handsome main house high on a hill overlooks a calm pond surrounded by wood and edged with a dock-surrounded boathouse...the water's overflow travels under the raised dirt road toward the mill which is bedecked with large American and Fleur-de-lis flags. A horseless carriage - the real thing - is the serving area for fine bottles of wine and small sustenance. There is a small crowd socializing and we partake of Brunswick stew, sandwiches, sweets and fruits. David talks through dinner to a captive audience gathered at the large mill stone and we have a very pleasant evening as the sun sets.

Martha is brought down from the above field and is parked at the edge of the pond. The guests have dispersed and in the darkness, this lovely setting is our own. Travis takes advantage of the shower facilities in the main house and is heard touring about the property in the golf cart...headlights blazing, down the paths and out to the point on the pond. Rose uses the boathouse hose for a very cold but refreshing bath, and Mike and Damon swim in the cool dark water. David and Rose sit at the boathouse watchng the full bright moon rise in the sky. There is extra time for leisure, as no tents will be set. The group will sleep in the mill tonight. We settle into our little paradise.....fortunate again. A demain.

Avec amour,

October 15, 2006

1781, March Date, Monday, Oct. 16, Day 122

Greetings Friends and Patriots.....

The noose tightens on the British neck. Oh joy, oh joy....can it be possible? So many years of sweat and starvation, of miss-use and abuse, of frustration o'er the missed opportunity. Tis seems that now, finally, finally, we might actually have these English bastards under our boot heel....... oh the joy of it!

When last you read, we had some hot cannon shot sink some Brit ships in the York river. 3 or 4 if I remember correctly, back on the 10th. The constant drum of the cannon has made my brain numb, methinks. Then, on the 11th we started digging the diagonal trench that would bring us closer to the British lines. On the following day, we started digging a trench (dig the trench, build the redoubt) that is parrallel to the British lines. We are now but some 300 yards or so from the British defenses.

We have the British Redoubts # 9 & 10, in our sights as I write this. Tis sure to be an attack on those positions soon, certainly. We have concentrated our artillery fire on those positions these last couple of days. And the cannonnade is over wrought, going day and night, some two score and more firing all the day and night round, and more like 5 score cannon working now. The spectacular explosions of the cannons, the fire from the barrel, giving the spectre of hell to the enemy. The retorts, so loud and long, ringing about the country and the landing of the shot on the British defenses, so well wished, and guided. The British artillery response has been, as best, paltry. Methinks that our gunners have aimed quite well the round ball. Some bouncing along the ground, some landing and smashing, some exploding. Tis the birth of a new Universe, must be...

Two days ago, the assssault on the British Redoubts 9 $ 10 began in earnest. They had been shelled for two days straight, but the British were still manning them, and it looks that they are determined to hang on. After the concentrated artillery fire, a decison was made on the 14th, Oct., to begin the assault. T'was now as good a time as ever. Gen Wasington gave the command to Gen. Lafayette to make the assault, on foot, on Redoubt #10. Lafayette, we are told, asked the French conmander de Gimat to lead the assault, but we hear that Col. Alexander Hamilton protested that he should lead the assault. Washington selected Hamilton, who would lead some 400 troops against that British position.

The French Col. Deux-Ponts was selected to lead the assult on Redoubt #9, using some 400 French Grenadiers and Chasseurs. The way it worked was like this...
Saint-Simon and de Choisy began diversionary attacks on the Fusilier Redoubt and other positions, at approximately 6:30 of the Clock in the Evening, on the 14th. At about 7 of the Clock in the Evening, just a half-hour later, (tis dark now at that time, seems only days ago that it was still light at that hour), the commands of Hamilton and Deux-Ponts rang out and the men moved forward. Tis a cheer to curdle your soul that then went up on the field, the cheer of men about to die, a last shout to the Almighty....

Hamilton's target, Redoubt # 10 was reached quickly and was just as quickly over run, with few casulties. The British and Hessian defenders surrendered with not much of a fight. Must have been the constant cannon bombardment that made those defenders think twice about wanting to continue the inevitable, being so out gunned, out manned and out manuevered, no place to run, or hide.....

T'was a completely different set of circumstances at Redoubt #9. Col. Deux-Ponts's force took very heavy casualties before the Redoubt could be secured, but secured it was, finally, with the enemy again offering surrender, which was gladly accepted.

Immediately after the taking of the two Redoubts, we very quickly consolidated our positions, expecting a furious British counter-attack, but tis never came about....curious indeed. However, ole' Corny did indeed use all his remaining cannon to pound those positions o'er the next couple of days, but to no effect.

Tis, where we are now, the action has seemed to settle into another cannonade duel, with our guns outnumbering, and out firing the British guns. Tis seems that the British defense is troubled indeed and we await the drum of parley, or a flag, or some sign that they have had enough..... we wait, and wait, and wait....

We sleep little awaiting the dawn, and perhaps an end, but what awaits.....?
More soonest.........

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
For, 'AMtY'
Homestead Headquarters

October 11, 2006

March Date Tuesday October 3, 2006 March Day 109

Good Day to all March to Yorktown followers and supporters ~

6 AM reveille reveals that Travis is arrived and has safely slept among us. Perhaps this young lad's enlistment to the army will bring about a spring in the men's step - it certainly will his Dad's. Travis is outfitted in kit, shoulders his musket, and joins the group being transported to today's start at Hanovertown. The night's dew is turning to misty steam as the sun rises, and eventually the day is warm, dry, and gifted with a cloudless blue sky.

The march begins - three colours, one musket. As yesterday, many carriage drivers stop on this winding Old Church Road to briefly chat with the men. As the day progresses, our newcomer soon becomes an official member as he stops to apply patches of silver duct tape to strategic places on his feet! The country road intersects busy route 360 and the group stops at the West Store for a short break. Ice cream at 10 AM of the clock? Mais certainment! There is also a brief necessary stop at Bethlehem Presbyterian Church where the church ladies have gathered outside to view the passing spectacle. We noon in a shaded area on Glympse Lane where the mistress of the house stops her carriage to chat with the soldiers.

At the 11.8 mile mark, we cross the county line in Kent and the men continue marching the remaining 3.2 miles to Marengo Plantation where our night's camp has been arranged. Rose drives the carriage ahead and is met by Taylor Moore, local businessman, who presents a quick tour of his retreat property. This 600+ acres was originally a tobacco plantation with brick manor built in 1817. There are reconstructed slave quarters, steeplechase tower, large barns, smokehouse, and riverfront dock with boathouse....all situated on ninety mowed rolling acres overlooking the Pamunkey River. We are allowed full access to the house and facilities, complete with golf cart in which to tour the property. We drive back the 1/2 mile to the gate where the army is just arriving, and our host whisks us back for an inside tour of the manor.

We now return to Hanover Park for our daily fetching of Camp Martha forward to her new night's home. At the park, we are interviewed and photographed for the local weekly publication Mechanicsville News before David and Rose set out with the Washington rig for the plantation. They again stop at the West Store for a few provisions and chat with owner Chuck Fleet who states he has been hearing from the locals for a while that the army is heading his way, and he is delighted to have us in his shop. He donates a bottle of fine wine with his compliments.

Evening at camp consists of setting the tents and preparing our own dinner, for a change. We dine on grilled hot dogs served with Erick Nason's rich potato soup. We sit at the camp table with burning smudge pots and lanterns which can soon be extinguished as the bright waxing moon rises in the sky. Father and son retire early, Rose and David head for their bunks, and we leave Dave chatting on his communication device in the bright moonlight. Bonne nuit, tout le monde. A demain.

Avec amour,

1781, March Date, Wednesday, Oct. 11, March Day 117

Greetings all Friends and Patriots...

The entire world has changed since I last wtote to you, just a week ago. I would have written you sooner, but we have been very busy here. And there is so much to share with you as we French, and Americans, start to put the hold on Ole' Corny, here in the Town of York.

It seems, about some 5 days ago now, that we were ready to start putting a siege operation into effect against the British Garrison, at York. It was that day that we starting to dig the trenches. Aye, and a right good dig it has been. Tis perhaps the first time that diggin' of a trench might cause a man joy, but tis true, it did, indeed. Dare'st I say that we might have whistled up a tune to help the exertions along. That was on the 6th of October, as dark settled, that we starting the shoveling, one shovel at a time...dig the trench, build the redoubt, dig the trench, build the redoubt.

We are some 500 to 600 yards from the British lines now, with the trenching, a parallel line to the British defense works, starting to stretch across the land. So many men, at work, with joyful, but terrible anticipation. There is the occasional shot from the British of course, enough to remind us to keep oour heads down. But at this distance, tis not mauch damage to be done by the stray and errant musket ball. More just a reminder that this may, and will, be very dangerous, very soon....

Another joyful note also sounded that same day when word of the Allied Wagon train's arrival here. We started to see the Wagon train on the evening of the 6th, with most of it arriving on the next day, the 7th of October. Ah, the stores and equipment so needed to succor the men and conduct the siege operation are now in place, and being distributed to all. A spirit of almost joy, or glee, has indeed infected the entire Army. The smile and determination on the faces of the men, the dirt and grime of the work, have elevated the spirit of all of us. The redoubts get taller, the trenches get deeper, by the hour. Dig the trench, build the redoubt...

It seems the British didn't even know that the siege had begun, until daybreak of the 7th. It reminded us of when, so many years ago now, in 76, that some of us had dug in the cannon from Fort Ticonderoga, secured by the son-of-a-bitch Arnold, at Boston. We dug in that entire cannon line, overnight, about a month after Gen. Knox had conducted the cannon train, from Ticonderoga to Cambridge.... what a tek that was! Oh, the stories.... That action made the British retire from Boston on March 17th of that year, after waking up to see the cannon surroundeing the fleet at Boston Harbor. Ah the joy of good memories.

The men are all atalk about actions like that, that lift our spirits.. Tis funny how the days of the calendar seem to work.... my journal now seems to tell me that Cormwallis started his retreat , after his defeat at Guilford Courthouse, in the Carolinas, toward this hole we have him in now, 5 years and day after the British pulled out, or should I say, evacuated Boston. Ah, the hopeful glory of it all.....

We see that the British are fully aware of what seems to be happening, and the coming days shall certainly make them more aware. We can hardly contain ourselves and the Officers are much full of work to keep the men from just scrambling down upon the Brits. Our excitement seems to almost get the beter of us at times, but tis not the time to be foolish or going off on some fools errand. Best to listen to the Officers, keep our heads down, and do the work of war.... dig the trench, built the redoubt, eat, work, sleep......

Huzzah, the glory of the first cannon shot. HUZZAH, HUZZAH, HUZZAHHHHH! The men are cheering, as the French Cannon, on our left, the British right, finally let the ball aloose into the sky and into the British lines. We are told that the first shot is touched off by General Washington, from the battery of the Comte Saint-Simon. This happened in mid-afternoon, on the 9th of Oct., at about three of the clock, and the entire Army came alive with a'cheer, and much raucous shouting and fist waving. The joy of the men, the entire unbelieveability of the momnent, has rendered us but slaves to an emotional build-up, to tears of joy, frustration and relief. Perhaps now the English Lion will feel the wrath of it's actions...... that was two days ago, and we continue to kep the cannonade alive as bes we can. the din of the cannons, constantly firing, has us numb....

By the next day, Oct. 10th, just yesterday, if my mind is still working, the cannon now firing into the British works number some 46 pieces, going day and night. It seems we have infklicted much damage to the British works as their rate of return fire seems to be but only, perhaps, six rounds an hour. A feeble effort so far, have we been that good with our own shot? We the French are superb gunners, and the fleet guns, manned by the sailors, are particularly accurate, it sems. Must be much easier to fire from a stationary ground gun than from a gun twitching in the high seas, aboard a man-of-war, methinks....

Also, yesterday, about noon, a flag of truce appeared from the British works... we know not what was said, but the decison has been made to continue the bombardment. We were able to destroy some 3 or 4 British ships, via the cannon fire, as well, on this day.

Today, or should I say, this evening, shortly after dusk, we started digging again, more the work of war, dig the trench, build the redoubt. Methinks that a second line of trenching, much closer to the British works, is now underway. I am finally having a moment of rest so that I might get this missive to you before I am back on the line. A good night's sleep, almost impossible with the thunder of the guns is much needed. I am so weary that it shall not make any difference how loud the cannonade is......

It looks as if we are digging in preparation for an assault on the British Redoubts, Nos. 9 and 10 on the southeast side of York. Perhaps, when they are secured, t'will allow us complete the second, and closer parallel to the British defense works. Tis how it works, you see, we move on the diagonal trenching to get closer to the British line. Then when we are closer, and satisfied, we dig the parallel trench. Moving in the diagonal keeps us safe from the British fire, until we are close enought to consider the parallel trench....... the work of war, dig the trench, build the redoubt. As we dig the trench, we put the earth toward the enemy side to help protect us from sniper fire, and the errant or well aimed musket ball.....

We now seem to have a good listing of the British enemy within York. It has taken some time for us to get this information, as you might imagine.....

With Gen. Cornwallis Commanding,
the headquarters staff seems to be of the 17th Light Dragoons and British Marines

British Artillery
The Roayl Regiment of Artillery, with much help from the sailors of scuttled ships also manning the guns

British Infantry Brigade, under the Command of Gen. O'Hara
Brigade of Foots Guards

Light Infantry Brigade of Two battalions...Commanded by Col. Abercrombie...
1st Battalion of Light Companies, from the British 4th, 15th, 17th, 23rd, 27th, 33rd, and 38th Foot
2nd Battalion from the 37th, 40th, 43rd, 45th, 49th, 55th, 63rd, and 71st Foot, and the 82nd Foot

1st Infantry Brigade, commanded by Col. Yorke 0f 22nd Foot
Made up of units of the 17th, 23rd, 33rd & 71st Foot (2nd Batalion)
2nd Infantry Brigade, commanded by Col. dundas of the 80th Foot
made up of unitsof the 43rd, 76th and 80th Foot

German Infantry
Anspatch-Bayreuth Contingent
Commanding, Col. Voigt, included the 1st and 2nd Regimetn and an Artillery Company Hesse-Kassel Contingent
Commanding Col. von Fuchs, included the Erb Prinz, von Bose Regts., a Jaeger Company and an Artillery Company

Loyalists Companies
Queen's Rangers
British Legion
North Carolina Volunteers
Pioneers and other

Tis the best of the listing that we can secure at the moment, given the hard circumstances here. Will write again soonest..... pray for us.

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
For, 'AMtY'

October 10, 2006

March Date Monday October 2, 2006 March Day 108

Good Day to all March to Yorktown followers and supporters ~

David attempts his usual 6 AM reveille, and receives a short chorus from the hounds in spite of his attempts to do so quietly. As the sky lightens, promising a splendid clear day, we can see Elizabeth at the kennels already tending to the dogs, and Bob similarly occupied with the horses. Bob takes us to visit the hounds, thirty-six in all, handsome, friendly and eager for attention. Bob can, and does call them each by name and each has their own personality. Wasn't it George Washington and Lord Fairfax who introduced fox hunting to America?

The army is ready to march and we travel by wagon to the center of Dawn again. Today's journey will cover 15.6 miles to the Hanovertown marker and we find the newly-erected Washington Rochambeau Route signs continuing through Hanover city. As promised, the day is hot with temperatures 75 degrees under a cloudless blue sky.

We have a pleasant diversion on the three mile section of busy route 2...David's brother John stops to visit on his way to Norfolk. He brings us boxes of pastries (groan), and the September 28 copies of "Soundoff", a Fort Meade publication of which we are the cover story. We all briefly visit the intriguing Kelley's Country Store/Museum, buy ice cream of course, photograph ourselves at the front, and John is too soon on his way.

As the men pass and are photographed at the Hanover Courthouse, we draw the attention of the staff of Hanover Tavern, directly across the street. We are greeted by Executive Director Sarah Smith who gives us an impromptu tour of this interesting building. According to Sarah, the main building was erected in 1791 but was the site of a tavern stop as early as 1733, and has undergone several transformations....public inn, stagecoach stop, post office, dance hall and now dinner theater. The group is photographed at the front of the tavern by Amanda, to be used in the next Hanover Tavern Foundation Newsletter.

The army now turns onto route 605. The road is shaded and cool as it winds through wood, is hot, sunny and flat as it borders field after field of soy bean. There is little carriage traffic on the road, but most drivers stop to chat briefly and some return to their homes to fetch cameras. One gentleman states "Got to take a picture for proof of what I saw. My family will thing I've been drinking!" One friendly little beagle comes out to greet us, and with tail happily wagging, follows the army for a distance. Perhaps we could attach a flag to that tail?

The men arrive at the day's destination - hot, tired and foot sore, feeling this third day in succession of extended marching. We photograph our arrival at Hanovertown Marker, located on a gravel road opposite soy fields and a short distance from the Pamunkey River. The marker reads that Hanovertown thrived in 1767, and by a small vote missed becoming the capital of Virginia. There are now but a few private homes and yellowing soy fields within sight.

The marchers board the wagon and we back-track to Hanover Courthouse Park, our night's camp as pre-arranged by Parks and Recreation Department Director Brad Ashley. The men march into this spacious park and are greeted by Brad, Devin Brown, Public Information Officer Tom Harris and New Kenty County District 4 Supervisor Stran Trout. Photos are taken, and after determining camp Martha's and the tents' locations, we return to Chase's End to fetch the camp forward. We bid fond adieu to Bob of the Caroline Hunt Club, our most gracious and generous host for the previous two nights...and to Lady Elizabeth, mistress of the house.

'Tis a quiet evening encamped at Hanover Park. Brad has arranged for individual "box lunch" dinners, prepared by the local ordinary Suzannes's, and a cooler of iced soft drinks. These are truly gourmet boxes of thick sandwiches, salads and desserts, and we sit, chat, and enjoy our fill . We are definitely the senior tour, walking and eating our way to Yorktown! An additional tent is set as we anticipate this night the arrival of Mike's son Travis from Langley Air Force Base. A demain.

Avec amour,

March Date Sunday October 1, 2006 March Day 107

Good Day to all March to Yorktown Followers and Supporters ~

Again, we have brought the rains. It comes in heavy intermittent showers throughout the night but ceases with the dawn. David makes the rounds as usual with reveille and is chourused quite loudly by the hounds' baying from their kennels. Everyone now is certainly awake! Damon emerges dressed in her civvies and takes her leave of the group - we'll miss this courageous lass who has kept step with the army these last four days. Bonne chance, Damon.

David, Mike and Dave are brought by carriage to route 2 and step off from Antioch Road. Rose returns to camp to prepare the day's provisions. Preparations at the farm for today's hunt is in progress in this early morning. Riders are handsome in their saddles and the horses are excited...soon horse and riders amidst the hounds are circling the main house and set off for the wood. Rose watches in fascination before setting off to intercept the men.

At less than a mile on route 2, the men have turned onto route 721, following the newly-placed Washington-Rochambeau route marker, the first of many throughout today's winding quiet roads. The marchers continue on Mattaponi and onto Old Stage Road where they are "found" by Herbert Collins, a most extraordinary gentleman waiting for the marchers' arrival at Green Falls - the oldest house, built 1711, in Caroline County.

Here, we experience an historical treat. Green Falls has been in Mr. Collins' family since 1787 and has been lovingly maintained in its original state. He gives us a grand tour and this is the first time that 4 seasoned reenactors are speechless. There are 650+ acres, the main house a tavern stop for Washington and Rochambeau, slave quarters a short distance from the house....but the furnishings and interior are the most impressive. Each room is filled with priceless period pieces of furniture, portraits, lamps, carpets and paintings. We stand on a carpet owned by Nellie Custis, view President Madison's carved four-poster bed, and on it goes... We spend the better part of an hour here and this gracious man invites us back to visit and to set our camp on the property any time we wish.

Sadly, it is time to move on. Old Stage Road continues to wind through wood, still bordering Mr. Collins' land and changing into dirt/gravel surface for almost a mile. As Rose waits at Burke's bridge over the Mattaponi River enjoying the quiet water and wood, Mr. Collins arrives in his pick-up wagon to present a video made earlier about Green Falls and its history - a treasure that will need to wait until our march is over, I'm afraid. The tour is not over....Mr. Collins takes Rose for a short walk to a community spring in the wood which was used by the Mattaponi indians, and is still used today. He related how he "worked" these fields as a child. At age 74, this remarkable man plans to restore his wood to open field as it was in the eighteenth century. "I promised Mama I'd keep and restore this place as it was, and she said I was only dreaming." He's true to his dream.

The day's march continues, and about the eight mile mark, we have an unexpected surprise. Our friend Gary O'Brien from the 1st Virginia has travelled hard by carriage to intercept and join the army for the day - great to see a familiar face and all hands are extended in welcome. Gary unfurls his l-a-r-g-e bright red regimental flag and the men are a quartet of colours as they step off again. Keep your feet on the ground, Gary, or you'll be on your way to Kansas.

The original army road turns and crosses route 2 - Richmond Road - more than a few times, a goodly pace is set, and the day's 18.1 miles, identical to yesterday's miles, is completed by about four of the clock when the large open field area which is the center of Dawn, is reached. David, dubbed the Crazy Frenchman, has finished the day almost a mile ahead of the rest of the army and goes in search of ice cream. No carrot needed on his flag, a cone will do.
Disappointed in finding no accommodating shops, he returns to the carriage. The army is now together and all board the wagon with a successful shop for la creme de glace. Gary is brought back to his carriage and we once again bid him adieu, knowing our paths will cross again.

As no suitable campsite has been procured for Dawn, we return to Chase's End Farm where we spend a delightful and relaxing evening with our host and hostess, Bob and Elizabeth. A short-lived rainstorm brings a perfect rainbow across the sky, and we all relax in the yard with a bit of spirits, watching another celestial spectacle - the splendid red sunset over the rolling fields. Bob displays his talents as chef, and we dine in their huntsmen's lodge on grilled steak (Be still, David's heart!), corn and terrific salad. No - not ice cream sundaes for dessert!
The men speak of their military service experiences, and Elizabeth too has truly served, solely managing this farm during Bob's tour in Iraq. This is an extraordinary group gathered here and we can feel the generated commeraderie, warmth and comfort.

The men are tired - as are our hosts from their day's hunt and chores. We night-cap, thank our hosts and head for our beds. A demain.

Avec amour,

October 09, 2006

March Date Saturday September 30, 2006 March Day 106

Good Day to all March to Yorktown followers and supporters ~

I'm sure everyone is awake before this morning's reveille...it is c-o-l-d, and we dress very quickly. We later learn the temperature is forty degrees. The Washington rig is moved from the back of the farm to the front of Belvedere plantation near the main road, with high visibility but out of the way for this farm's busy opening day.

The army begins its more arduous march of 15.8 miles to Bowling Green, with main travel along route 2 but following many out-croppings of original army trail. There are many new Rochambeau trail signs enrout - Rozell Road, Woodford, Woodslane and Farmers Road. The day becomes warmer but there is still the edge of fall in the air and the sky is cloudy.

Rose returns to Belvedere after delivering the men to the starting point, tidies house, prepares the army's provisions and proceeds to intercept the men on the trail. Stopping at a local shop, she purchases copies of the local publication. The Free Lance Star has printed a front page portrait of the men at march. Because of this, the men are recognized by the locals. One gentleman who is fetching his roadside paper, glances at the men as they walk by his home, then double and triple-takes as he reads his paper. Another carriage driver calls out to the marchers, asking if he could purchase breakfast for them.

About three miles out, Rose is waiting with support when Erick Nason arrives, accompanied by wife Karin, in full kit, and daughter Samantha. This man is true to his word, and eagerly joins the marchers for the day.

The men today are unstoppable....a couple of brief rests and only a short lunch stop...they cover the entire route into Bowling Green Courthouse in less than six hours. While waiting for the men's arrival, Bob Ferrer of Chase's End Farm stops by and whisks Rose away to the farm, our site for tonight's camp. This is a handsome huntsman's farm - stately brick and columned porch home, well-furnished lodge with adjoining stable, field, paddocks, and hounds' kennels...the latter a good distance away from the house. Bob apologizes that he and wife Elizabeth will not be at the farm this evening due to prior committment, but he has arranged for our every comfort and for his brother-in-law Will Gravett to follow up with us later in the day.

Rose arrives back at the courthouse, but the army chooses to continue the additional 2.8 miles on route 2 where the turn-off to the Ferrer Farm is located. We say goodby to Eric who has certainly earned the amorous attentions of his Lady Karin. Total miles for today is 18.1 and 'tis but mid-afternoon. By carriage, we all proceed to Chase's End.

An elegant table has been set in the yard, laden with fine Bordeaux, a wheel of Frech brie under a silver dome, and accompanying crackers. The men rest on the lawn, partake of this fine welcoming snack and visit with Will. It is here and now that Mike walks head-first into a holly tree branch, sustaining a superficial but two-inch forehead laceration. 'Tis but a surface cut but the resulting ooze gives his face more character.

We all return to Belvedere, fetching camp Martha forward to Chase's End and there take advantage of the shower facilities in the main house, which our hosts have most graciously allowed us access to. Our last opportunity for such complete cleanliness was six days ago at the Gunston camp and we assure that the tub is scrubbed at our finish!

We all enjoy the horses as they curiously approach the fence, and we offer apples and sugar cubes. We engage in a never-ending game of fetch with Jack Russell "Reggie', whose mistress Terry has come to attend to both horses and army. With Will as our stand-in host, and in the handsome well-furnished lodge, we are seated at the long table and dine on fine roast beast, potatoes and superb wine. 'Tis a meal fit for a General! We chat and socialize in this comfortable room for quite some time.

The group is tired, clean, and well-fed as we reflect on this day....106 of our commemorative march. A demain.

Avec amour,

March Date Friday September 29, 2006 March Day 105

Good Day to all March to Yorktown followers and supporters ~

David taps on George's door and says "Happy Birthday, Rose" - it's 7 AM and I've pulled birthday privilege allowing an extra hour of sleep before reveille. The day is dawning clear and beautiful as last night's storm has moved northward, and today's march will be a pleasant trek of only 7.5 miles from Fredericksburg along the Tidewater Trail to Belvedere Plantation. This is the site of the French troops', wagons' and cattle encampment and is still massive fields today.

Before we depart, Pat and Robert from D.C. call with a happy birthday duet for Rose (Merci, mon chers amies!) and we are visited by Melanie Healey-Marquis, an archeology lab analyst here at Ferry Farm, who brings a gift for the army. Individual packs of trail mix and a handmade good luck card complete with fleur-de-lis, prepared by her son's cub scout troop of which she is den mother. She told us that the boys wanted to do something for the soldiers. Rest assured, boys, the soldiers will love this mix, loaded with M&M's!

The army is transported to St.George's church and begins the day's journey. Barely a mile out, they are photographed for the Free Lance Star, flags handsome in the breeze. They report friendly carriage drivers with many waves of support. At a goodly pace, they make short work of the day, and about a mile before Belvedere Plantation, we pass our first road marker proclaiming Yorktown. We reach the plantation, currently a busy working farm which is making ready for their autumn festival opening the next day, and the men (forever little boys grown up) cannot resist climbing aboard the enormous hay-bale caterpillar at the farm's entrance. We are greeted by Don Fulks who gives us carte-blanche to park camp Martha wherever we wish.

We return to Ferry Farm and fetch the camp forward, travelling the same route the men travelled earlier by foot. Back at Belvedere, there are many workers about preparing for their publick opening. There are piles of pumpkins and gourds, fields of mums, stacks of haybales, wagon, tractors and scarecrows. There are children's activities here that cover acres of ground....low-balance beams, pens of chickens, rabbits, goats and pigs, rope swings in the barn, rope ladders in the yard, a through-the-mountain slide, hayrides, mini-tractor racing, pot-belly pig racing, haybale maze and an eight acre, six-foot high maize maze. We play like children in this wonderland all to ourselves, spend close to an hour trekking the corn maze - as if the men have not walked enough for today! There is also a reenactors dream.. rows of pristine porta-johns!! Another birthday communication arrives for Rose....the lovely Acquinetta from D.C. relays her best wishes. And another, from friend Marion last seen in the Hudson river area, and from friend Doreen last seen at Hunt's Tavern in New York. Thank you all for remembering.

As we rest at the camp table, Eric Nason of the 2nd South Carolina regiment visits as pormised, bearing a most delicious potato soup with biscuits and home-made fruit turnovers. Eric plans to join the marchers on the morrow. Rose prepares these fabulous gifts and we dine as the sun sets over the fields.

We are visited by Judy Fulks, matriarch of this farm, who discusses its history and invites us the main house, built in 1770 for a personal tour. Here, the dining room is the piece de resistance, with semi-domed ceiling and gorgeous furnishings. We thank Judy for her hospitality, for allowing us to play as children, and wish her and her family a most prosperous season.

It is not long before we head for our beds. A demain.

Avec amour,

October 9, 2006

Good Day to all March to Yorktown followers and supporters ~

This is to notify all you that America's March to Yorktown was completed as scheduled on October 7, 2006, approximately 2:00 PM of the clock. The marchers arrived at York Hall, Yorktown Virginia where we were received by local historical representatives and dignitaries. The march continued (in the second day of torrential rain of a nor'-easter) to the Yorktown Victory Monument where a present arms and a prayer of thanks was offered. I will not go into detail here, but will describe that day in the daily log.

Which brings me to ....the recent missing logs. We travelled through portions of Virginia for almost a week where no wireless signal could be detected, hence the logs have not been forthcoming. It was most frustrating, knowing that many people were counting on these notes to follow our progress. I have the logs...written in long-hand....and will be posting them during the next few days.

Thank you all for your patience. WE ARE HERE!!!!
Avec amour,

March Date Thursday September 28, 2006 March Day 104

Good Day to all March to Yorktown Followers and Supporters ~

A day of rest and David sleeps in. Il n'y a pas de reveille aujourd'hui. The morning is cool, breezy and clear and the early risers David, Rose and Damon walk from the farm to the local laundress so that David may have his now less-than-white regimental tended to...and to take advantage of the local breakfast tavern run by Mr.McDonald.

Mike sleeps in and actually smiles as he emerges from his tent - a wonderful night's rest is proclaimed!! It looks good on him. We are visited by Alma Withers, whom we missed on yesterday's arrival at Ferry Farm. She is most cordial, thanks us for our visit, and invites us to return anytime.

The day is ours and it is spent in various pursuits...visiting Fredericksburg Battlefield, the archeological dig here on Ferry Farm grounds, sitting in the sun working on communications and enjoying the well-tended gardens at the back of the visitor center. Here, Rose is fascinated by seeing cotton plants for the first time. They are waist-high, thickly-leaved reddish-green with golfball sized pods which burst into four sections of white fluffy elongated cotton "balls". One cannot help but think of the many souls who have spent hours at the back-breaking work of picking cotton.

David and Damon enjoy a very close game of checkers in the yard - seated at a painted barrel board and using pieces of sliced corn cob, and David retrieves his laundered regimental coat, pleased that he will present himself as the well-dressed French soldier at tonight's festivities.

Lyn Padgett of the Rappahannock Colonial Heritage Society has organized a bit of pomp and ceremony specifically for America's March To Yorktown and we prepare to put our best foot forward...literally. The group gathers on the far side of Chatham Bridge and are met by Jay Harrison, Director of Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, who is in full regimental with musket, and lovely Terry Rece. We march across the bridge and are joined by many members of the Rappahannock and Fredericksburg societies, all in their period best, and continue to the park/garden area adjacent to the historic Lewis store. A large dining fly has been set protecting a table laden with home-cooked foods, and a large cast iron pot steams over an open fire filled with soup...its aroma filling the evening air.

The marchers are welcomed by Mayor Tom Tomzak, Rappahannock Heritage Society President Sandra Piercy, Lyn Padgett and Jay Harrison. Mike introduces the marchers and we express our gratitude at our hosts' generosity. Ah...we feast again. The evening sky has grown progressively darker and the rains begin just as the dessert course is begun. There is a scramble to grab food, baskets and dishes, and everyone files into Lewis store to continue the festivities and talk of local history. Erick Nason of the 2nd South Carolina regiment vows to visit us at Belvedere tomorrow evening. Thanks to Damon who retrieved our carriage from the far side of the bridge earlier, we are spared the walk back in the rain. We return to Ferry Farm and enjoy the night's severe rain, thunder and lightening from the safety of the camp, thankful that the men are not currently marching. We hope for clear skies in the morning. A demain.

Avec amour,

October 04, 2006

1781, March Date, Wednesday, Oct. 4, Day 110

Greetings Friends and Patriots.......

Homestead Headquarters.....

I bring you greetings from the front lines at Yorktown! It does not seem possible that we have managed to bottle up ole' Corny, but tis the everloving Gawd darn truth. After all this time, of walking and manuevering, of talking and waiting, tis perhaps the end game we see on the horizon.

It has not been quiet here, with some actions occuring in the near vicinity and at Glocester. We are still a mile or so off from the British Front at the Town of York, but that shall change very soon, methinks.

In the meantime, let me share the latest rumors, innuendo and truth, as best as can be spoke. Just two day ago, on the 2nd. Oct., we learned that the Virginia Militia, under the command of Gen. George Weedon, with some 1,500 troops, had been opposing the British garrison there commanded by Col. Thomas Dundas. We have no information of the troop strength, then, of the British Garrison, but the allied Generals were taking no chance. Gen. Weedon was reinforced by some 600 men from the Duc de Lauzon's Legion. This was near the last of September. On Oct. 1st, the Gen. de Choisy assumed command of these Allied operations. On Oct. 2nd, British Col Tarelton (tis the name that will drive me to madness, he is everywhere it seems) and his British Legion arrived to support Dundas and would bring the garrison troop strength to some 1000 men.

The action that occured shortly there after has only produced these brief notes, to date. On the 3rd, Dundas was returning to camp after a foraging expedition. Gen de Choisy forced an action from the front, with the help of Lauzon Legion, while Tarleton formed a rear screen for the British troop. In the frenzy of quick action that followed, Tarleton was nearly captured when pinned under his horse, but was saved when some of his men rode in and plucked him away. Oh damn it to hell, what a trophy he would have been. Tarleton then reassembled his men, but John Mercer held the allied line and Tarleton withdrew.

Tis naught but a game of cat and mouse now, and how good it feels to be the cat, for once. We have come a long way, to long to turn back now.....

I listed the American Army in my last dispatch to you some days ago. I will now try to list the French Army, tis the best that we can do under the circumstances...

French Army, Gen. Comte de Rochambeau, Commanding

The Artilley is commanded by Col. d'Aboville, with the guns of the Auxonne and Metz Regiments.

The French Infantry is of 4 Brigades, with 2 Brigades under the comand of Gen. de Viomenil, as follows.......

The first Brigade comanded by Col. de Laval, includes the Bourbonnois and Royal du Pont Regiments.

The 2nd Brigade, commanded by Col. de St. Maime, includes the Soussoinas Regiments......

.......and another 2 Brigades under the Command of Gen. de St. Simon....

the 3rd Brigade is commanded by Col. d'Audechamp, and includes the Agenois and Catinois Regiments

The 4th Brigade, commanded by Col. de Pondeux, includes the Touraine Regiment..

The detachment at Gloucester, commanded by Gen. de Choisy includes Marines from the Fleet as well as Lauzon's Legion. The Duc deLauzon's Legions forces included Hussars, Infantry and Gunners......

We are still getting information about the British Trop strength and will share that with you as soon as possilbe....there is a chill in the air as the seasons have changed, but there is a burning in our hearts to get on with it. The camp duties have us keeping to a task as we can only think of the coming moments, do we live or die, do we win or lose.......? Tis' only Providence seems to know, and last I knew, it was not talking......

There is more commotion in the camp, and a call to duty as well, will write again, soonest.....

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
For, 'AMtY'
at Homestead Headquarters

October 01, 2006

1781, March Date, Sunday, Oct. 1, Day 107

Homestead Headquarters

Greetings Friends and Patriots,

Perhaps tis' the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning.... truly.

I wrote that we had moved into position about the British Town of York, some 3 days ago. We left the Town of Williamsburg about 5 of the clock in the morning and were in postion, about a mile away from the British outer defenses, about dark. That was on the 28th of Sept.

It was noticed that on the British right, Lt. Col.Robert Abercrombie was withdrawing as the French left wing advanced there. At about the same time, on the British left, Lt. Col. Benaste Tarleton withdrew as he American right winG moved to the southeast of Yorktow. It appears that the British are consolidating their defenses.

Events are moving at a snails pace, but with lighting speed, both at the same time it seems to us here in the Line. We can see the mass movement of the troops, large amounts of folks moving about, then tis seems to be done, in a moment.

On the 29th, just two days ago, Gen. Washington inspected the British positions while the American army continued to surround Yorktown. All along, artillery, siege equipment and stores are being moved up to the front.

On Sept. 30th we discovered that the British had abandoned three outposts that cover the southwest approach to Yorktown. Apparently Corny, with his limited forces, has chosen to abandon these postions . We find an intercepted dispatch that indicates that the British will be sending relief, from New York. Btitish Gen. Clinton says the British fleet will be leaving New York on the 5th of Oct. Hmmmm, that should make things a bit dicey, methinks.

We have also learned that the French Wagon Train, taking the land route, had left Georgetown, crossing the Potomac River. ON about the 24th, we have learned that the wagon train has loaded on much hay, at Col. Daingerfield's plantation, near Belvidere, and are still coming southwards, they have yet to arrive and we trust, hope, pray that they are safe.

We have taken some trouble now, to list for you all the units that seem to be in place, for this coming event, for better or worse.....

General Washington, Commanding at his headquarters, has the 4th Continental Dragoons and Armand's Legion..

The American Artillery of the 1st Continental, 2nd Continental and 4th Continental Artillery as well as four companies of sappers and miners, is led by Brig. Gen. Henry Knox.

Maj. Gen Lafayette leads the 1st Division American Light Infantry with Brig. Gen. Muhlenberg's 1st. Brigade, made up of 8 Mass. Light Co. under Col. Vose, 5 Conn., 2 Mass., and 1 RI light companies under Col. Gimat and Col. Barber's battalion of 2 New Hampshire, 2 New Jersey and 1 Canadian Light Companies, as well as 3 New Jersey Line Companies

Brig. Gen Hazens Infantry Brigade is made of Col. Scammel's Battalion of 2 New Hampshire, 3 Mas. and 3 Conn. Light Companies,with Col. Hamilton's Battalion of 2 New York Light Companies, 2 New York and 2 Caonn. provisional light companies, and Hazens Canadian Regiment.

Maj. Gen Lincoln leads the American 2nd Division, with the 1st Brigade being made up of 1st and 2nd New York, led by Brig. Gen James Clinton, and the 2nd Brigade, Col. Dayton comanding, made up of 1st and 2nd New Jersey, and a Rhode Island Regiment.

The American 3rd Division is commanded by Maj. Gen. Baron von Steuben, a soldiers favorite. Under his command is Brig Gen. Anthony Wayne commanding the 1st. Brigade of 1st and 2nd Penns., and the 3rd Virginia.

The 2nd Brigade is commanded by Brig. Gen Gist commanding eht 3rd and 4th Marylanders

The Virginia militia is bing commanded by Gen. Thomas Nelson, with the Brig Gens. Weedon, commanding the 1st Brigade, Lawson commanding the 2nd Brigade and Stevens commanding the 3rd Bigade. They are joined by Dabney's State Legion......

Tis all I have the time to impart at the moment. Perhaps I will have time on the morow to list our allies, and then the British enemy. The situation here is very changing, and we are all on the proverbial pins and needles...... we are all on the look about for any intrusion, or serious troop movement by the enmy, yet all seems very still at this moment......... tis sure to change dramatically in the near future. I pray you receive these dispatches or else you may never learn what has become of us, should this all come to naught, or failure. Failure is not on our minds, but our families are. We are reminded of the those parting words of the Declaration of Independence, that said we have pledged our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Tis do not needs to be a man of means to make that pledge, only a man of truth and substance.......we have pledged and are standing forward, into the face of the enmy.

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
For, 'AKtY'