The National Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association will gather in Delaware Saturday for the first time, holding its annual meeting at the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s Copeland Maritime Center.
The event will include a tour of the Kalmar Nyckel, Delaware’s tall ship.
Vincent de Kytspotter, a brigadier general and head of the French Permanent Defense Mission for the UN will attend the meeting.
The Route Association is dedicated to supporting, interpreting and preserving the routes that the allied French and Continental armies troops took to and from the Siege of Yorktown in 1781 and 1782. It became the decisive battle of the American Revolution, signaling the downfall of the British troops and leading to the birth of a new nation.
Troops traveled by land and by water to and through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Marshal Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, was a French nobleman who commanded their Army.
De Kytspotter is expected to talk about plans for the 225th anniversary of the founding of the United States in 2026.
Peg Tigue, a member of the Old Brandywine Village board of directors, said that they hope the event will help increase tourism to the area.
“We really feel like it will drive economic development through tourism, and through its heritage, in this area of the city,” Tigue said. “And this area has been neglected for years.”
Tickets for the event cost $100 per person and Tigue said 75 people have signed up so far. Guests are also able to pay $1,000 for a sponsor ticket or $2,500 for a golden sponsor ticket.
The money raised for the event will go towards funding the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail, which is run by the National Park Service. The trail features numerous historical sites and museums in each state.
There are 11 historic sites in Delaware associated with the Rochambeau Association, which include the former homes of Thomas Cooch, Thomas Robinson, Mordecai Woodward, Richard Richardson, Hale Byrnes and Arthur Penny, as well as the Christina Tavern in Newark, Golden Fleece Tavern in Dover, Cooch’s Bridge monument, Brandywine Village State Park, the site of a milling center and a continental army hospital.
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William Conley, a member of the Rochambeau Association board, said that the association hopes to educate the public about the history of the trail and who marched with Washington’s army.
“I taught social studies for 37 years in Delaware,” Conley said. “I had no idea, because it didn’t make the textbooks that a huge chunk of Washington’s army, by the end of the war, they’d turned to African American kids to participate.”
He said there are many little-known stories in Delaware that the association hopes to share with the public and get the families to embrace.
The story of the Revolution is the story of a lot of cultures, he said.
Old Brandywine Village is planning to open a visitors center in May to help tell the history of the area, he said.
Tigue said the annual meeting is being held at the Copeland Maritime Center because of the history surrounding the ship, which was constructed in 1629 by the Dutch, but sold to Swedes and used to ferry Swedish settlers to North America in 1638.
A replica of the Kalmar Nyckel was launched in 1997 after the founding of the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation in 1986, which Tigue was the director of for 13 years.
The Kalmar Nyckel was adopted as Delaware’s official tall ship in 2016.
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