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Road to Freedom Day Celebrated in Dobbs Ferry

Revolutionary re-enactors lead a march from Gould Park to the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society, retracing the steps taken by General George Washington and his troops in August of 1781.

Residents of "historic" Dobbs Ferry, recognize their village more for its present than its past. Locals buy groceries at Stop & Shop, walk the aqueduct path and run the bases in Gould Park. But few are familiar with the rich history that makes Dobbs Ferry a crucial stop on the road to an American victory in the Revolutionary War.

But this Sunday was all about the past, as the Village of Dobbs Ferry in conjunction with the Historical Society celebrated the fifth annual 'Road to Freedom Day.'

Dr. Richard Borkow, Dobbs Ferry Village Historian, was the Master of Ceremonies for the event that started at 1pm at Gould Park.

To begin the ceremony, Mayor Hartley Connett read the proclamation from the village board declaring Sunday, August 1, 2010 as 'Road to Freedom Day' throughout the Village of Dobbs Ferry.

The names of the first 13 states were then read, followed by a musical salute.

Even the musical program was teeming with American history. 'Chester'--originally published in 1770 by William Billings--is American tune once played by fifers as a quick march for Sunday and tatoo for Lord's Day evening.  'The French Quick March," was played to commemorate  Connecticut Fife Major Nathaniel Brown's, transcribing the French tune while while serving in the Hudson Highlands. 

And rounding out the musical interlude was 'Belleisle March,' a piece composed to commemorate a British victory in 1759 during the French and Indian War.  It was played in 1763 as King George III reviewed the troops and remained popular until after the American Revolution.

American Revolution re-enactors Lamb's Artillery Company then led the assembled crowd through the Village from Gould Park to the Mead House, home to the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society.

Dr. Borkow officially welcomed the audience to the Historical Society and described the steps that General Washington and his troops took following their six-and-a-half week encampment in the local area, commencing their 400-mile journey on August 19, 1781 that ultimately led them to Yorktown, Virginia.  It was there, on October 19, 1781, exactly two months after the start of their journey, that General Washington received the final surrender of General Lord Cornwallis,  ending  a nearly seven-year  struggle for American independence.

In his remarks, Dr. Borkow brought to light the significant contributions that the French made on the Americans' behalf during the Revolution.  Not only did they help finance the war effort, but also helped with providing much-needed military support.  Dr. Borkow said that he could not have imagined how the fledgling country could have attained their ultimate victory had it not been for the French.

A selection of period songs was played by the Fife and Drum corps.  The costumed re-enactors included Erik Lichack, Matthew Skic and Peter Cutul.

 Members of Lamb's Artillery demonstrated the usage of a period cannon for the spectators.

This group of historical actors derive their name from the original Lamb's Artillery, founded in 1775 by John Lamb, leader of 'The Sons of Liberty' in New York.  The troops were camped in Ardsley in the Summer of 1781 and departed from Dobbs Ferry for Virginia with Washington on August 19, 1781.

Next, resident Tom Hanford entertained the younger members of the audience with a delightful assortment of colonial tales and period songs.

Ladies in colonial garb served refreshments to the very appreciative crowd. Among the tasty treats offered were pumpkin bread and hospitality thins that were prepared under the specifications found in The Thirteen Colonies Cookbook.

The 'Road to Freedom Day' is a joint initiative of the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society and the Village of Dobbs Ferry; the principal sponsor of the event was the Tensor Foundation.

The  2009 book, George Washington at "Head Quarters Dobbs Ferry," by Dr. Mary Sudman Donovan, President of the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society, was offered for sale, with money from book sales going to the historical society. 

Be sure to check out the photo slideshow that follows. 

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