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Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau 1725-1807

Published on August 1, 2012
Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, was born in Vendome, southwest of Paris, in 1725. His first combat experience was during the Austrian War of Succession where he participated in the Bohemian, Bavarian, and Rhine campaigns, after which he was named advisor to the Duke of Orléans. He distinguished himself again during the German campaign of 1757-1758, and was appointed to the rank of Marshall in 1761.

When France sided with the American revolutionaries, King Louis XVI and his minister Vergennes wanted to limit their support to providing more naval assistance. However by the end of 1779, the situation in the colonies worsened and King Louis XVI agreed to give Marquis de Lafayette 5,500 men. The soldiers were chosen from among the best regiments in France and were placed under the command of Admiral Rochambeau whose own son had joined the expeditionary force. They sailed for the colonies in July 1780. Rochambeau advised General Washington to attack Lord Cornwallis in the South instead of in Clinton, New York. This decision ultimately led to the victory at Yorktown. When he returned to France, Rochambeau became the military governor of Picardy and Artois, in Northern France. Although he was a nobleman, he rallied to the cry of the French Revolution,and assumed command of the Northern Armies in 1790. He resigned from his post in 1792, following a disagreement with General Dumouriez. Arrested during the Reign of Terror, he was released by Napoléon and received a Marshall’s pension in 1803. He died in Thoré-la-Rochette in 1807.

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