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Expédition Particulière
was the codename given to the French expeditionary army sent to help the American Revolution during 1780 to 1782. Its contribution was essential to the American-French allied victory at Yorktown in September 1781.
The French expedition was approximately 5,500 regular soldiers, equipped with the latest weapons and a product of the significant reforms undertaken following the French reverses in the Seven Years' War (1756-63). The force consisted of the following regiments: Bourbonnais, Soissonais, Saintonge, Royal Deux-Ponts, Legion de Lauzun, and the Auxonne Artillerie.

When Expédition Particulière arrived at Newport, RI, in summer of 1780, the French were received at first with some trepidation by many of the American colonials. However, the expedition's exceptional discipline and professionalism, as well as their colorful uniforms and regimental flags, quickly became popular. In September 1781, the French, with Washington's main army, conducted a swift strategic movement from the New York area to Virginia. There they were joined by other French expeditionay forces under the command of the marquis de Saint-Simon. The additional regiments were: Agenois, Touraine, Gâtinais, which had been off loaded from the ships of the French Admiral, comte de Grasse.

The overall commander of the French land army was Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807). He was undoubtedly the main reason for the great success of this force. He held the rank of lieutenant general and had many years of campaigning experience. His skillful leadership and professional wisdom were vital in advising General Washington and in guiding the 'end-game' strategy that implemented the Yorktown Campaign.

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The AmericanRevolution.org web site's 'Scholar's Showcase'
has some fine narratives. One addressing the French participation in the American Revolution is:
'France in the Revolution' -- a 26 chapter work by James Breck Perkins.


A misleading cliché frequently repeated in much of the popular literature on the American Revolution is that the French participation was mainly for ‘revenge'. For the most part the authors of such statements are journalists or popular history writers. Support for revenge being the principal motive behind French aid to the American War for Independence is usually based upon hearsay and quotes from journals of secondary players, and not from documents that record the decision making that directed the French military and diplomatic actions in 1775-1783.
Fortunately there are a few authoritative examinations of writings and directives by French decision makers at the time. While print publishers find no financial benefit to make such scholarly studies available, the Internet has modestly filled the gap. Highly recommended is the webpage essay titled: "Rochambeau and the French in America" is at: http://www.bartleby.com/238/

This webpage is one of seven masterful essays from With Americans of Past and Present Days by Jean Jules Jusserand. Published in 1916 by Charles Scribner's Sons (New York), the work was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for History in 1917. M. Jusserand was the 1902-25 French Ambassador to the U.S.. His seven essays trace French and American relations from the American Revolution to the beginning of the twentieth century.


The diplomatic background surrounding the French assistance to the American Revolution is well provided by Dr. Jonathan R. Dull, research professor at Yale University. His scholarship provides a rare bulwark against the flood of legendary and cliché infested assertions floating in so many of the general articles and books as to what were the European intentions and responses to the American rebellion. Professor Dull's principal work on the topic is A Diplomatic History of the American Revolution (1985). The bibliography provided for this website [link given above] lists some of his other fine works on the French navy of the era.

In 1980, Professor Dull gave a particularly fine presentation to the Washington Association of New Jersey , New Jersey at Morristown; this is posted at "Lafayette, Franklin, And The Coming of Rochambeau's Army"
In 1974, Professor Dull delivered a valuable talk on "France and the American Revolution: Questioning the Myths" at the First Annual Meeting of the Western Society for French History (held at Las Cruces, New Mexico). This is now posted at: "Challenging Historical Clichés about the French Participation in the American Revolutionary War".

The Hudson River Valley History site contains a wealth of detail on American Revolution events in that region. The site also provides links to access and download pdf format files of Dr. Robert A. Selig's historical and architectural surveys of the "Washington - Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (1781-1782)" for various states such as New York, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania:
American Revolution Themes: The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route

 
The US Library of Congress offers online access to its ‘The Rochambeau Map Collection' at
http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/rochambeau-maps/
 

The The Rochambeau Map Collection contains cartographic items used by General comte de Rochambeau when he commanded the French expeditionary army (1780-82) during the American Revolution. The maps were from Rochambeau's personal collection, cover much of eastern North America, and date from 1717 to 1795. The maps show Revolutionary-era military actions, some of which were published in England and France, and early state maps from the 1790s. The collection show the importance of cartographic materials in the campaigns of the American Revolution as well as Rochambeau's continuing interest in the new United States. The collection consists of 40 manuscript and 26 printed maps which are in the Library of Congress' Geography and Map Division.


The Rochambeau map collection is actually part of a broader Library of Congress program: The American Revolution and Its Era, Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies 1750-1789. The URL is http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gmdhtml/armhtml/armhome.html

Within this collection are some maps made by Lafayette's cartographer M. Capitaine du Chesnoy. At present the means to access particular maps in this collection is to use the ‘Keyword' search option. For example: entering Lafayette and Barren Hill will provide a list of links, the top one taking the viewer to a maps of the 28 May 1778 maneuvers executed at that location.

A related website is one the US Library of Congress has conceived in partnership with France's national library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, France in America /France en Amérique is a bilingual digital library made available by the Library of Congress. It explores the history of the French presence in North America from the first decades of the 16th century to the end of the 19th century. The URL is http://international.loc.gov/intldl/fiahtml/

Conçu en partenariat avec la Bibliothèque nationale de France, La France en Amérique / France in America est une bibliothèque numérique bilingue de la Bibliothèque du Congrès. Elle explore l'histoire de la présence française en Amérique du Nord des premières décennies du XVIe siècle à la fin du XIXe siècle.

 
Links to French websites:
Though mostly in French, these sites are very friendly to Anglophone visitors.
Try them out and practice your French!
 
La société des SAR en France

 
 
Special temporary announcements:
 
Scheduled Commemorative Events.
 
"Rochambeau Interpreted" by modern re enactor.
 
Seven Years' War Cemetery in Québec City
can be be found by Clicking Here.
International Celebration of the 225th Anniversary of
"The Peace Treaties Signed at Paris and Versailles
on 3 September 1783"

Click here for information on ceremonies conducted in France during September 2008..


This page is sponsored by the
Expédition Particulière Commemorative Cantonment Society,
PO Box 137, Mount Vernon, VA 22121.

Comments and questions are welcomed, and can be e-mailed to:


Expédition Particulière
Mount Vernon Commemorative Cantonment
.


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Page created February 1998, last updated 17 February 2010.