Programs & Events
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When the French Marched Into Ridgebury: Town Hall Exhibit
Wednesday, August 31, 2022 @ 8:30 am – 4:30 pm EDT
Note: Town Hall is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.
On July 1, 1781, his birthday, Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, the Comte de Rochambeau and nearly 5,000 French troops arrived in Ridgebury on their way to join General George Washington in the battle for American independence. The troops camped at two sites in Ridgebury before resuming their journey toward the Hudson River the following day.
A new exhibit in town hall, Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, highlights Ridgebury’s encounter with French troops, just four years after the hostile British force under General Tryon had come through the village.
Historian George L. Rockwell described the event:
Let us picture that sight when four thousand eight hundred French troops entered this little village…. Resplendent in their brilliant uniforms, their cannon glistening in the bright summer sun, their teams of horses and oxen pulling the artillery and carts, and most of all their kind interest in the inhabitants — what a cordial welcome was extended to them by the patriots of Ridgebury. And although they spoke a strange tongue, their manner revealed hearts full of sympathy and affection for our ancestors, fighting zealously for their liberty.
The exhibit is accompanied and enhanced by a large-scale diorama, Ridgebury 1781, created by former Selectman Josette Williams, showing the Ridgebury area and the French encampments.