CELEBRATION of the 225th ANNIVERSARY
of the 1780 arrival of the Comte de ROCHAMBEAU
and his French Military Expedition at
NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND
8 - 10 July 2005

The Ambassador of France to the United States, Jean-David Levitte,
spoke to the assembled crowd, on 9 July, in front of the famous landmark statue of Rochambeau at Kings Park, overlooking Newport's harbor. A link to the text of Ambassador's speech is at the bottom of this page.


They're Back!
This impressive formation of re-enactment French troops marching through the streets of Newport appears to 'say it all'.
Scene took place 8 July, Colony House is in the background. Leading the march is Steven Taskovics, Commanding Officer of the Saintonge.


General Comte de Rochambeau (John Beresford Welsh) escorted by Colonel Geoff Gardner, Commander of the Newport Artillery Company -- one of the oldest such units and not a re-enactment organization. This re-enactment took place late morning on Friday, 8 July, representing a symbolic reception of the French commander by the Rhode Island state militia. Col. Gardner assumed the role of the General Heath, whom George Washington had designated to welcome Rochambeau. As 'Officer of the Day', Col. Gardner was in charge of ceremonies in Newport and at Camp Fort Adams. In the above photo, on the far left is Ron Feldman, porte drapeau of the Royal Deux-Ponts; and between and just behind Rochambeau and Col. Gardner is Frank Marini, porte drapeau of the Saintonge.
French re-enactors proceeded from ferry landing to Colony House (the pre-Revolutionary War state capitol).
Later in the day, ceremonies were held that included a symbolic meeting among re-enactors portraying Rochambeau, La Fayette, and George Washington. However, neither of these American generals met Rochambeau until well after the latter's arrival at Newport.
The above scene invites comparison to the historic event of Rochambeau arrival as described by George Woodridge's article, "The Coming of the French Fleet," Newport History, Journal of the Newport Historical Society, Winter 1980. See link to extracted portion at the end of this webpage.


Formation of re-enactment French troops along waters edge in Kings Park on 9 July.


Rear Admiral Jacob Shuford, President of the Naval War College at Newport, and his wife held a reception for French Ambassador Jean David Levitte on Friday evening, 8 July. In the above photo, between the Ambassador and the Admiral, is Roger Benin, French Consul.
Guests at the event made their entrance to fife and drum music (below). The drummer is Michael Grant, wearing the uniform of the Kentish Guards, a Rhode Island Militia company that served with the French in the 1780's. The fifer is Richard Sheryka, wearing the uniform of a musician in the Bourbonnais Regiment.
French troops marching into Kings Park prior to the 9 July morning ceremony at the statue of Rochambeau, which included an address by the French Ambassador.

This photo shows [from viewer's left to right] French military unit colors unfurled at many of the events. From viewer's left to right, the colors are: (1) a subjective reconstruction of a flag that may have been used as Rochambeau's personal standard [his pavillon blanc], (2) the ‘colonel's colors' [drapeau de colonel] of the Royal Deux-Ponts regiment, (3) the Royal Deux-Ponts regiment's own colors [drapeau d'ordonnance], (4) Bourbonnais regiment colors, and (5) Saintonge regiment colors. Not shown are: the colors of the Soissonnais (another of the four infantry regiments in Rochambeau's expedition), a standard -- or similar flag -- for Lauzun's Legion (the designs of which are not known today), nor a flag representing the French expedition's small artillery contingent from the Auxonne Artillery Regiment.


FORT ADAMS STATE PARK
During the 3 days of activities at Newport, nearby Fort Adams was the 'base camp' for the many military re-enactment units. The public was able to observe demonstrations of eighteenth-century camp life, troop formations, tactical exercises, and artillery firings -- pictured, first row, below is the Artillery Company of Newport.
Lower row: Generals Rochambeau (John Welsh), La Fayette (Mark Schneider), and George Washington (Kevin Grantz) were on hand to meet the public. To Washington's right is a captain of the Royal Deux-Ponts (Myles McConnon).


QUEEN ANNE PARK
On Saturday, 9 July, in Queen Anne's Park where eighteenth-century dance demonstrations. The site, in Queen Anne's Park is the location of Mrs. Crowley's Assembly Room where in Washington danced the famous Successful Campaign with Peggy Champlin when he was visiting Rochambeau in March and April of 1781. This historic dance was one of the dances demonstrated by Reel Nutmeg.


TRINITY CHURCH GRAVEYARD
On Saturday, 9 July, honors were paid to the French buried in the graveyard of Trinity Church. One of the ceremonies was led by Gérard Priet, chef de delegation of the French SAR branch (center front). To his right is 'George Washington' (Kevin Grantz); to his left is an aid-de-camp of Rochambeau, 'capitaine en second de Closen' (Bill Rose), dressed in the uniform of a grenadier in the Royal Deux-Ponts. Blocked from view in the back rows are: 'Rochambeau' (John Welsh) and another aid-de-camp 'capitaine de Furstenwather' (Myles McConnon). A link to M. Priet's presentation is at the bottom of this webpage.
The ceremony included Dr. Jacques Bossiere and Col. Serge Gabriel (USA, Ret), board members of the W3R-USA, who laid two wreaths (tributes from both Souvenir français and W3R-USA) and rendered associated prayers. Dr. Bossiere also made a presentation at the event.


WHY ALL THE FUSS? -- A LITTLE BACKGROUND
On 11 July 1780, a French naval squadron under Admiral Chevalier de Ternay delivered General Comte de Rochambeau, his staff, and approximately 5,000 French troops into the harbor of Newport, Rhode Island. In the months that followed, Rochambeau and Washington planned and directed exemplary combined operations that explored besieging British-held New York City, and eventually led to a daring strategic campaign that captured the British General Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown, Virginia.
The commemoration and the marking of the route taken by the allied armies from Newport to White Plains above New York City, and then to Yorktown Virginia is the goal of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association (W3R). The W3R helps to coordinate a multi-state collaboration to celebrate the 225th anniversary of this remarkable allied achievement. The 8-10 July 2005 Newport celebration is the ‘kick-off event' that begins a series of such activities though various eastern states until the finale episode marking the anniversary of General Cornwallis' surrender at the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781. The Brigade of the American Revolution (BAR), in conjunction with 'the American re-enactors of the French Army', played a major part in the July 2005 Newport celebration, and will devote a considerable portion of its 2006 campaign season to this project.
The success of the July 2005 Newport celebration can be attributed to Roseanna Gorham, chair of the W3R Committee of Rhode Island, and the event's military coordinator, Richard Sheryka, and an inclusive advisory committee. It was a glorious program at Newport, which received rave reviews. This committee intends to initiate, on 17/18 June 2006, the national state route marches from Providence which will culminate in Yorktown the following September.
Commemorative activities relating to the of the French military expedition are only part of the on going celebration of the 225th Anniversary of the French American Alliance (1778-1783). The 225th celebration will include enlarged commemorations, in 2006, of the successful allied Siege of British held Yorktown (September- October 1781) that are annually conducted by a various organizations other than the W3R-US. The W3R-US plans on introducing more commemoration of French army encampments in the United States during the post Yorktown victory and the expedition's departure in 1783 with the end of the war.

LINKS to related websites:

See text of Ambassador Levitte's speech.

See text of M. Gerard Priet's speech.

Go to page Description of Rochambeau's historic arrival at Newport, RI, in July 1780.

The Naval War College website http://www.nwc.navy.mil/pao/L1/PhotoGallery.htm contains a selection of photos for various events at the Naval War College. Click on the 'fifer and drummer' and you will see six pages of miniature pictures of the reception in honor of the French Ambassador that was held at the home of Admiral and Mrs Shuford. Admiral Shuford is President of the Naval War College. Clicking on the miniature image will call up an enlarged picture.

The Washington - Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Historic Trail Association.

The SAR-W3R Liaison Committee

The Kentish Guards' website.

The Website of Rochambeau's interpreter.

The Saintonge Regiment website.

Les Régiments Français -- l'Armée de Terre Royale in the American War for Independence.

Return to webpage on ANNOUNCEMENTS of COMMEMORATIVE EVENTS.

Return to top of this webpage

Page posted as early draft 14 August 2005, revised 26 August 2007.