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Lt. General Rochambeau | by dbking
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Lt. General Rochambeau

Lt. General Rochambeau in the SW corner of Layfayette Square


Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (July 1, 1725 May 10, 1807) was a French soldier.


Rochambeau was born at Vendôme, Loir-et-Cher. He was originally destined for the church and was brought up at the Jesuit college at Blois. However, after the death of his elder brother, he entered a cavalry regiment, and served in Bohemia and Bavaria and on the Rhine. By 1747 he had attained the rank of colonel. He took part in the siege of Maastricht in 1748 and became governor of Vendôme in 1749. After distinguishing himself in 1756 in the Minorca expedition, he was promoted to brigadier of infantry. In 1758 he fought in Germany, notably at Crefeld. He also received several wounds in the Battle of Clostercamp in 1760. In 1761, he was appointed maréchal de camp and Inspector of Cavalry. In this position he was frequently consulted by the ministers on technical points.


In 1780, Rochambeau was given the rank of Lieutenant General in command of 6,000 French troops and sent to join the American colonists under George Washington fighting the English in the American Revoutionary War. He landed at Newport, Rhode Island, on July 10, but was held there inactive for a year, owing to his reluctance to abandon the French fleet blockaded by the British in Narragansett Bay. At last, in July 1781, Rochambeau's force finally left Rhode Island in July 1781, marching across Connecticut to join Washington on the Hudson River. There then followed the celebrated march of the combined forces to Yorktown, where on September 22 they combined with Lafayette's troops and forced Cornwallis to surrender on October 19. Rochambeau displayed an admirable spirit throughout, placing himself entirely under Washington's command and handling his troops as part of the American army. In recognition of his services, Congress thanked him and his troops and presented him with two cannons taken from the English. These guns, with which Rochambeau returned to Vendôme, were requisitioned in 1792.


Upon his return to France he was honored by Louis XVI and was made governor of Picardy. During the Revolution, he commanded the Armée du Nord in 1790, but resigned in 1792 after several reverses. He was arrested during the Reign of Terror and narrowly escaped the guillotine. He was subsequently pensioned by Napoleon Bonaparte and died at Thoré-la-Rochette, Loir-et-Cher, in 1807.


A statue of Rochambeau by Ferdinand Hamar, was unveiled in Lafayette Square, by President Roosevelt on May 24, 1902, as a gift from France to the United States. The ceremony was made the occasion of a great demonstration of friendship between the two nations. France was represented by her ambassador, M. Cambon, Admiral Fournier and General Brugère, as well as a detachment of sailors and marines from the battleship Gaulois. Representatives of the Lafayette and Rochambeau families also attended. A "Rochambeau fête" was held simultaneously in Paris.


Mémoires militaires, historiques et politiques, de Rochambeau were published by Luce de Lancival in 1809. Of the first volume a part, translated into English by M.W.E. Wright, was published in 1838 under the title of Memoirs of the Marshal Count de R. relative to the War of Independence in the United States. Rochambeau's correspondence during the American campaign is published in H Doniol, Hist. de la participation de la France en l'établissement des Etats Unis d'Amérique, vol. v, Paris:1892. See also Duchesne, "Autour de Rochambeau" in the Revue des faculté's catholiques de l'ouest (1898-1900); E. Gachot, "Rochambeau" in the Nouvelle Revue (1902); and H. de Ganniers, "La Dernière Campagne du maréchal de Rochambeau" in the Revue des questions historiques (1901).


Rochambeau's son, Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur was an important figure in the Haitian Revolution.


Rochambeau Middle School in Southbury, Connecticut is named for the Comte de Rochambeau, as is the Rochambeau Bridge which carries Interstate 84 and U.S. Highway 6 between Southbury and Newtown, Connecticut. (Rochambeau's army marched through the area during the American Revolutionary War.)


A bridge over the Potomac River in Washington, DC, is also named for Rochambeau.


Please note the source for this information is from Wikipedia.

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Taken on March 25, 2006