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Propaganda On Castle Hill



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To the Editor:

I know the importance of the French army and specifically General Rochambeau in providing our Continental Army with the support it needed to finally defeat the British at Yorktown, Virginia. And being raised and educated in Newtown, I also know that the 1781 march of Rochambeau’s troops from Rhode Island to join General Washington in New York came right through town where they refreshed and regrouped and spent at least one night. While working toward my undergrad and master’s degrees in History at WCSU I learned even more, especially after spending hours researching our town’s Revolutionary War experience at the Booth Library for a paper I wrote about the Reverend John Beach. Subsequently, teaching US History for decades, I’ve collected even more resources related to Newtown’s experience.

Oddly, in all my studies I had never heard specifically of a “Rochambeau Trail” until I read the Letter Hive of the Bee’s May 10th edition. We’d been away so that was just this week. Then I went down Mount Pleasant Road and saw a barrage of signs picturing a bulldozer with the heading “Save the Rochambeau Trail,” so then I figured I better get with the program and explore this new research that somehow links Rochambeau to the long defunct “Reservoir Road,” but I cannot find any.

There is of course what’s called the “Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail.” It spans 680 miles and is not a trail at all, but rather the route (as near as they can figure) that Rochambeau’s and Washington’s armies traversed in the above-described endeavor. Being that colonial armies could only travel an average of 10-20 miles a day, marching that 680 miles would necessitate spending the night at minimum 34 times. There is an extensive description of the route/history on the National Park Service website, and an awesome map of the whole route that you can zoom in on at the Bureau of Land Management’s site. That map does not show the French troops going anywhere near Reservoir Road, which was never a thoroughfare. Maybe some crossed it to access Taunton Pond when they camped in rye fields on what is now known as Castle Hill, but they certainly would not have traveled it. The troops also camped near and around what’s now Hawley School.

I am not trying to be a cheerleader for the Castle Hill Development. I am just trying to help people be grounded in the facts and realities of both our past and present, and to have a realistic view of our future before they form their opinions. Propaganda appeals to emotions, not to reason. It clouds issues to the extent that people who fall for it make decisions that they normally would not. Propagandists know that if they repeat something often enough and say it in a strong and authoritative enough voice, whether it’s true or not, people will come to accept it as gospel. Funny, but I actually find those bulldozer signs to be “vociferous and belligerent.”

Randi Kiely


A letter from Randi Kiely.
Comments are open. Be civil.
  1. qstorm says:

    Thank you!

  2. wingeey says:

    Its one thing to be a self-proclaimed authority. Its another to actually be one. I highly recommend you read what the State Archaeologist has to say about it here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-27kfDaqBuuLc3ttYZhK3glM6J_EErNp/view. While you’re at it, you might want to read what the National Parks Service has to say about it: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NZkNK37WW4BfLiQAttLiC7XVxTJQNb_J/view. Next time, it’d be wise to check with actual experts before calling others “propagandists”..

  3. netwownnutmegger says:

    If the NIMBYs don’t want anything built on the land then they should band together to purchase it from the land owner. There is a steady trend in Newtown where a small, but vocal group of residents seek to dictate how private land owners can use their property.

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