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Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau - One of America's Founding Fathers

Posted on Friday, January 17, 2020

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Birth: July 1, 1725
Death: May 10, 1807 (age 81)
Colony: N/A 
Occupation: General
Significance: Served as Commander in Chief of the French Expeditionary Force (1780-1781)

Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau

Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Born Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur in France in 1725, Rochambeau was educated in France and enlisted in the French Army as teenager. Rochambeau distinguished himself during the Wars of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War, rising to the rank of Brigadier General. 

In 1780, following the 1778 alliance between the United States and France, France decided to send a second wave of French soldiers and ships to assist in an attempt to end the Revolutionary War. Rochambeau was chosen to lead the Expedition Particuliere, or the Special Expedition in English, which consisted of more than 5,000 French soldiers. Upon his arrival in Rhode Island in July 1780, Rochambeau's fleet of ships was blockaded by the British, and Rochambeau and soldiers were sidelined in Newport, Rhode Island for a year.

Finally, in July 1781, Rochambeau was able to leave Rhode Island and joined George Washington and his troops in New York. Together, Washington and Rochambeau marched South to Yorktown to confront General Cornwallis and his army at the Siege of Yorktown in Virginia. The Siege of Yorktown lasted three weeks and ended in a decisive victory for the United States. Cornwallis' surrender of more than 7,000 British troops was an enormous blow the the British war effort and led to the beginning of the negotiations to end the Revolutionary War. When Rochambeau departed the United State for France, he was recognized as the leader of French forces that played an instrumental role in America winning the Revolution.

Back in France, Rochambeau participated in the French Revolution for a time before being arrested in 1793 and nearly went to the guillotine but survived the revolution and subsequently died in 1807 at the age of 81.

The Comte de Rochambeau in Philadelphia

Rochambeau marched through Philadelphia along with the combined forces of his French Army and George Washington's Continental Army in 1781 on their way to the Battle of Yorktown. 

Today in Philadelphia you can visit the New Hall Military Museum and the Museum of the American Revolution, both of which house artifacts from the American Revolutionary War and pay tribute to the soldiers such as Rochambeau who fought for American independence. Both the New Hall Military Museum and the Museum of the American Revolution are stops on The Constitutional Walking Tour!

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