HOUSE BILL NO. 120
AS AMENDED BY
HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1
AN ACT TO AMEND THE LAWS OF DELAWARE RELATING TO THE ESTABLISHMENT AND DUTIES OF THE DELAWARE REVOLUTIONARY WAR MONUMENT COMMISSION.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE :
WHEREAS, Delaware takes justifiable pride in its status as the first state to ratify the Constitution of the United States of America on December 7, 1787; and
WHEREAS, the state is equally proud, with equal justification, of the famous ride of Caesar Rodney to Philadelphia in 1776 to break an impasse among the Delaware delegation in support of the Declaration of Independence; and
WHEREAS, the great emphasis placed on these proud chapters in the state’s history, significant though they are, has tended to obscure a perhaps even more illustrious part of Delaware’s Revolutionary War heritage, namely the part played by the Delaware Regiment and other Delaware Continental Army troops between the activation of the original Delaware Regiment under the command of Colonel John Haslet in January, 1776, and the cessation of hostilities in 1783; and
WHEREAS, many Delawareans, including most of our school children, know little or nothing about the important role played by these Delaware troops in the Continental Army during the Revolution, men who were drawn from every corner, and from all three counties, of our state; and
WHEREAS, unbeknownst to most Delaware citizens of the present day, the Delaware Regiment was considered by contemporaries in the Continental Army to have been one of the finest, if not the finest, regiments in the entire army; and
WHEREAS, the late Delaware historian Christopher Ward, in his great 1940 work, The Delaware Continentals, admirably summarized the record of these troops when he wrote
“From January, 1776, to January, 1783, this regiment had borne the burden of as hard service as was ever imposed upon soldiers. For four years in the North and three years in the South these men had marched in broken shoes or shoeless, on rutted roads and where there were no roads at all, through mud and sand, through swamps and streams, in Summer’s heat and Winter’s cold, thousands of weary miles. They had slept, or tried to sleep, in tents in zero weather, or without tents or any shelter, without blankets or any covering, on the bare ground in rain and snow. They had gone without clothing, food and drink, without pay for years on end. And they had fought in every battle, except Princeton, in which Washington’s army in the North and Gates’s and Greene’s in the South had been engaged; on Long Island, at White Plains, Mamaroneck, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, Fort Mifflin, Monmouth, Stony Point, Paulus Hook, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford, Hobkirk’s Hill, Ninety-Six, Eutaw Springs, Yorktown, and in skirmishes and minor engagements without number. They had met on the field of battle, bayonet to bayonet, the veterans of Great Britain and of Germany, the best soldiers the world could furnish.
Time after time they had been chosen for the most difficult and dangerous service, at advance posts in battle and as rear-guards in retreat. They had been beaten again and again, but never disgraced. They had been publicly thanked by their general commanders and by the Congress. Their comrades in arms and the contemporary historians had praised them unstintingly, and they had been applauded by all writers of the history of the Revolution from that time to this.
Haslet, their colonel in the first year, and Kirkwood, their commander after Camden, have been singled out of the multitude of Revolutionary regimental officers for especial commendation by all who have recorded the military events of those seven years . . . .
The regiment was few in numbers, never, in battle, more than 550, as at Long Island, and, at the last, less than 100 as at Eutaw Springs. But, even at its fewest, it was a force to be reckoned with. Forged on the anvil of hardship under the hammer of experience, the Delaware Regiment was a weapon which any of the great captains of history would have been glad to launch at his foe. It is not too much to say that no other single regiment in the American army had a longer and more continuous term of service, marched more miles, suffered greater hardships, fought in more battles or achieved greater distinction than this one of Delaware.” (Christopher Ward, The Delaware Continentals, pp. 483-484); and
WHEREAS, despite this remarkable record of achievement, a record which was of inestimable value in the establishment and survival of the Delaware State, the story of these fine Delaware patriots and their unparalleled sacrifices for freedom and democracy is largely forgotten among rank and file Delawareans of the present day; and
WHEREAS, most, if not all, of the original states of the United States have suitable monuments and statuary on the grounds or within the walls of their state capitol buildings which stand as permanent reminders of the importance of the role played by their state’s troops in the Revolution; and
WHEREAS, Delaware, whose troops established one of the proudest records of service of any in the entire struggle, has no such historical monument or statue; thereby denying our citizens, most particularly our school children, hundreds of whom visit Legislative Hall each year, an opportunity to learn of and be instructed by the great achievements of our forefathers; and
WHEREAS, a number of suitable locations are to be found on the grounds of Legislative Hall on which to place a proper historical monument or statue commemorating the great achievements of the troops of the Delaware Line;
Section 1. The purpose of this Act is to establish on the grounds of Legislative Hall a commemoration to the Delaware troops who fought in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War by erecting, subject to appropriation, a monument or a statue, along with appropriate descriptive material, of a Delaware Continental soldier, which accurately represents the dress, arms, and accoutrements of the soldier for that time period.
Section 2. The Delaware Revolutionary War Monument Commission is hereby established to plan, coordinate, and implement the erection of a Continental soldier monument or statue on the grounds of Legislative Hall. The Commission consists of:
(1) one member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;
(2) one member appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate;
(3) one member who is the Director of Legislative Council, or the Director's designee;
(4) one member who is the Director of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, or the Director's designee;
(5) one member who is the Director of the Delaware Public Archives;
(6) one member who is the chair of the Delaware Heritage Commission, who shall serve as chair of this Commission;
(7) one member who is the president of the Delaware Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, or the president's designee;
(8) one member who is the president of the Delaware State Society Daughters of the American Revolution, or the president's designee; and
(9) one member who is the Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard, or the Adjutant General's designee.
Section 3. The Delaware Revolutionary War Monument Commission shall exist until such time as its purpose is fulfilled.
Approved June 9, 2005