FRENCH VOLUNTEERS AND SUPPORTERS
OF THE
AMERICAN REVOLUTION
This page will be under continuous construction. Initially, the emphasis will be on compiling data on the French military volunteers. It should be noted that these individuals are in addition to the many military and naval officers that served full-time in the French forces, but performed distinguished service in support of the American War for Independence in theaters of operation away from North America. Some of the French army officers who came as part of Rochambeau's expedition, and had not participated earlier as 'volunteers' in the service of the American army, will temporally be placed on this page, and later moved to a separate page created for that group. Senior French government civilian officials who significantly contributed to the American cause are presently included in a page on "French Naval Leaders and the French Navy in the American War for Independence."

Aware that the new Continental Army needed engineers and experienced artillerymen, as well as staff officers, the US Congress requested that Silas Deane and Benjamin Franklin secure some professional French officers with such skills. Even before this recruiting, a number of French and other European military officers sought to join the American Army as they learned of the thirteen colonies revolt against England. Many joined even before the Battle of Bunker Hill.

"Most of these newcomers were of noble birth, with good intentions, but they were not always qualified. Some of them did not speak English, and had no military experience, and therefore could be of little value as leaders. The Congress accepted a number of the French recruits but sent the others back to France, paying for their fares both ways. The full effect of this early help had not been fully realized."
[Villanueva's The French Contribution ..., pp. 2-4. See bottom of this page for fuller Statement of Attribution for most of the material in this page.]

These French officers in American service were forerunners of the official military and naval participation in the war. Some of the early volunteers later assumed posts with the regular French forces under Rochambeau. Following are names of some of the French volunteers. Note that underlined names are linked to expanded biographical summaries of the particular individuals. In some cases, the links go to other pages which have returning links to this page.


List of Volunteers

(The following list is partial and under development. There were at least 87 officers of the French Royal army that served in the the US Continental Army, and about four French army or naval officers served with John Paul Jones' naval squadron. The estimated number of French who served 'in the ranks' of the US forces is higher, but not well documented.)



François-Louis Teissèdre de Fleury (1749-1799)

François-Louis Teissèdre de Fleury was born into a noble Provençal family. At age 19 he joined (15 May 1768) the Roergue infantry regiment, and was commissioned a lieutenant five months later. He was promoted to sous aide major on 5 Feb 1772. Fleury was made captain in 1776 and permitted to deploy, along with some other French officers led by the more senior Tronson de Coudray, to serve in the American Revolution arm. At first, the American Congress refused to employ Coudray and his officers, and Fleury joined the army as a volunteer. He participated in military action at Piscataway, NJ, (10 May 1777), and was soon after (22 May 1777) and was commissioned a captain in the new Continental Army's Engineers. One of his first assignments was to surveyed the Delaware River defenses in the Philadelphia area, which included fortifying Billingsport.

George Washington commended to Congress Fleury's performance in the Brandywine Campaign (September 1777), where, near Birmingham Meeting House, Fleury was wounded in the leg and his horse killed. Congress directed that the Quartermaster-General present Fleury with a replacement horse. In October 1777, Fleury was made brigade major in Pulaski's troop. Fleury particularly distinguished himself when at Fort Mifflin in October-November 1777. His personal courage and energetic direction permitted the Americans to hold the fort's humble defensive structure during a six-weeks siege by the British. Fleury was wounded on 15 November, the day the Americans evacuated the fort. During this ordeal, Fleury demonstrated his professionalism by maintaining a remarkable, detailed journal. On 26 November 1777, Fleury was promoted to Lt. Col of Engineers, and he undertook a scheme to attack British ships on the Delaware with rocket-propelled boats.
In early 1778, Fleury was sent to join La Fayette in preparing for an expedition into Canada. The expedition was aborted and, in late April 1778, Washington appointed Fleury to be assistant Inspector General to von Stuben. In the June 1778 Monmouth Campaign, Fleury was second in command of the chasseurs of Lee's Division. In August 1778, Fleury was assigned to assist coordination with the French fleet under d'Estaing in an allied, joint attack against British-held Newport, RI. Poor coordination between the allied land and naval commanders led to the campaign failing, Fleury participated in rear guard elements as the American forces executed a dangerous withdraw.
Fleury was one of two battalion commanders, under Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne, in the American attack on Stony Point, NY, (16 July 1779). In this daring night assault, Fleury demonstrate his fiery spirit by being the first to penetrate the British works and tearing down the enemy's flag. This performance led to him receiving one, of only eight, Congressional Medals awarded during the war. With Washington's approval, Congress also granted Fleury leave, in September 1779, to return to France on leave for nine months.
US Medal awarded by the US Congress to Fleury for his bravery at Stony Point. Engraved in Paris by Benjamin Duviver, and now in the Bibliothèque Nationale.
In March 1780, Fleury was given the rank of major in the French Saintonge Regiment. He returned with that unit as part or Rochambeau expeditionary force in July 1780. The US Congress extended Fleury's leave to enable him to serve with the French forces. However, he was discharge from the American army 1 January 1782. The French noted Fleury's distinguished service in the capture of Yorktown, and awarded him the Order of Chevalier de Saint Louis for his service.
From various records, the American historian, Mark Boatner III, has collected a brief outline of Fleury's career following the American Revolution: 16 January 1784, Fleury was a colonel in the Pondichéry Regiment; May-November 1785, he was Commander-in- Chief of the Isles de Bourbon and Maurice; he returned to France in April 1790. On 30 June 1791, Fleury was promoted to maréchal de camp. In 1791 he fought at Montmédy, Givet, Cambrai and Valenciennes. During a retreat near Mons, Fleury was badly wounded and later resigned from the army on 24 June 1792. He received a pension in June 1796 and died 23 April 1799 at Paris.

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La Rouërie, marquis de Tuffin [dit 'Armand-Charles'] (1750-1793)

Oil painting of the marquis de Tuffin La Rouërie, known as 'Armand' in the Revolution.

La Rouërie began his military career, as did many other French aristocrats, by joining an elite unit while still a boy (age 10). He was in the Garde du Corps for ten years until forced to resign after wounding one of the king's relatives in a dual. At the same time, his family forced him to break off an affair with a famous Opera singer in Paris. La Rouërie retreated for a brief time to a Trappist monastery. As if that were not enough material for a novel, he felt a need to join the American cause and at the end of 1776 sailed on a ship Morris to America. The Morris was pursued into the Chesapeake Bay by three British warships and had to be run aground and abandoned in April 1777. La Rouërie and his companions escaped to join up with the Rebels.

He decided to take the surname 'Armand', sensing that his aristocratic French name might be resented. With his own money and the help of a Swiss major, he raised a legion of volunteers that formed the 3rd Cavalry, Pulaski Legion. On 10 May, 'Armand' was granted the rank of Colonel in he American forces. His cavalry saw its first action during the Philadelphia campaign in summer 1777, and Armand was personally commended by George Washington for leading a strong rear guard and saving a gun as an American outpost retreated before a larger British force. Armand was at the battles of Brandywine and Whitemarsh; he wintered at Valley Forge and was at the battle of Monmouth. Later he engaged in partisan operations in New York and Connecticut. Armand succeeded Pulaski as commander of the Legion when Pulaski was killed at Savannah (11 October 1779). The unit was badly hurt in the American defeat at Camden in 1780. In October of that year, Pulaski's old 'Legion' was redesignated 'Armand's Partisan Corps'.
In early 1781, Armand received leave to return to France to obtain equipment for his corps. He received the French Order of Chevalier de Saint Louis in May and was back in America for the late summer operations in Virginia. Part of his unit was with Lafayette at Green Spring (6 July 1781) encounter. He remained in the Southern Department until September 1782, when he rejoined the main army in New York. Armand was appointed brigadier general (26 March 1783) and made 'Chief of Cavalry'. Both Congress and Washington praised his service at the time of his discharged from the American ranks (25 November 1783. He departed from Philadelphia for France in May 1784.
In France, he returned to his birth-name, 'La Rouërie', married a wealthy aristocratic lady, and, in 1788 became a colonel in the French army. La Rouérie exchanged letters with Washington until the French Revolution, when he became an active leader of Royalist forces. He was an energetic leader in the Vendée and later Brittany uprisings. On 29 January he died of an illness at the Château de Guyomarais.

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Denis-Jean Florimond de Langlois, marquis [from 1815] du Bouchet (1752-1826)

Denis-Jean Florimond de Langlois was born 20 October 1752, in Clermont- Ferrand, France, where his father held a royal-appointed administrative position. He was the eldest son of five children, and received his early education by Jesuits in Paris. In 1767, he entered the military at age 14, and became an artillery cadet at Bapaume the following year. However, a saber wound received during a duel in March 1768, prevented him from taking the exams and graduating. He resigned and departed Bapaume the following July. He went to Fribourg, Switzerland, where he joined the Saxe-Gotha infantry regiment of infantry. The unit consisted of "mostly of French deserters in Austrian service" and was stationed in Luxembourg, near the French border. By June 1770, Denis-Jean Florimond had left the Austrian service and returned to France, where he returned to the French service as a sub- lieutenant in the la Marche infantry regiment. In 1768, his unit was sent to subdue a revolt in Corsica. The campaign was brief and followed by a long period of peacetime inaction in France, which meant that officer promotions were slow.

In 1776, Denis Jean Florimond was still a sub-lieutenant in la Marche, stationed in Bethune on the Dutch border, when he heard of the rebelling American colonists' appeal for professional military volunteers to join the Continental Army. Florimond was one of many officers in the French service who saw this as an opportunity "to partake in the perils and the glory."
Along with his brother-in-law, Thomas Conway, a Franco-Irish colonel in the Aquitaine Regiment, Florimond was interviewed by Silas Deane, the American representative in Paris. While Conway was in a position to be offered a position of considerable rank in the American army, Florimond was one of many who offered to serve initially without the promise of a specific rank or money. With Deane's recommendation to the US Congress, Florimond resigned his commission in the French army and went with Conway to the Le Havre port in November 1776, where they joined several other volunteer officers.
At Le Havre, these volunteers were assembled to be transported on l'Amphitrite (16 guns), which also carried war-fighting cargo acquired by Pierre- Augustine Caron de Beaumarchais (the French agent tasked with 'secretly' smuggling such aid to the rebels). On 25 January 1777 l'Amphitrite sailed with 25 officers, 50 four-pound cannon, 14,000 muskets, 100,000 flints and other war materials. The ship arrived at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 22 April. A few weeks later, Florimond and Conway were with George Washington's army at their Morristown camp.
Florimond would write later in his life of his observations and experiences during his service in the American Army. In general he found the landscape attractive, some of the people very friendly and some to exhibit 'Puritan' manners of extreme austerity. His accounts also record the discord among some the French volunteers in the American service. The more experienced French officers felt slighted that they were granted lower ranks that had been promised by Silas Deane. There was some resentment that Lafayette, "a mere cavalry captain in France" with no campaign experience, held a major general's rank in the American service. Florimond also detected (or so recognized when he wrote his journal later in life) that the arrogant behavior of some of the French officers irritated the American leaders, such as Washington.
Though granted the rank of captain in the Continental Army, Denis Jean Florimond, resented not being given a command. He felt further discomfort in his association with Conway. Conway's open resentment at being made only a brigadier, and not a major general, expressed itself in his general behavior, and forced a breech in his relationship with Washington. Although he, himself, was no longer close to his brother-in-law, Florimond felt uncomfortable with the situation, and eagerly sought a transfer to the northern army under General Gates.
When he arrived at Stillwater in late August 1777, Denis Jean Florimond received a rather indifferent welcome from Gates. The Frenchman was assigned as aide-major to Colonel Daniel Morgan's riflemen. Florimond would note in his later journal that he had to sleep under a self-made shelter, as General Gates denied providing him a tent. However, after a few weeks of observing the French officer's performance, Gates invited Florimond to dine in Gates' tent, as well as ordering the Frenchman a tent of his own.
During the First Battle of Bemis Heights (19 September), Florimond assumed command of a leaderless company of riflemen, and captured two British cannons. He was then given the company permanently. On 7 October, at the second Battle of Bemis Heights, Gates promoted Florimond on the battlefield to major. Less than two weeks later Burgoyne surrendered.
The American success at Saratoga led some of the French officers in the American service to anticipated France openly declaring an alliance with the Americans, and to foresee that the better 'career move' might lie back in France. Being of such a view, Florimond sought and was granted a discharge. He then sailed in January 1778 from Baltimore on a ship bound for Haiti. The ship was intercepted by a British warship. The British boarding party identified Florimond as a French military volunteer and took him prisoner. Florimond endured three weeks on one of the infamous British prison ships anchored in New York harbor, before he and six fellow prisoners made a night escaped in a small row boat. By good fortune, they approached a French ship moored in the lower harbor. The ship took them to St. Domingo. From there, Florimond managed to reach France in late July 1778.
Florimond was disappointed to receive nothing more than his old 'captaincy' back in his former regiment -- now re-named 'Conti', and stationed near Honfleur in Normandy. Through some personal connections he was appointed aide-de-camp to General comte de Rochambeau, and was sent to St. Malo, where a French force was being assembled to invade England. The invasion plan was cancelled in December 1779, and Florimond rejoined his regiment. In March 1780, Florimond was again assigned to Rochambeau's command at Brest. He was detailed to the general headquarters' infantry staff under the marquis de Chastellux. Rochambeau's force was being assembled for a secret mission [expédition particulière].
The 46 ship (convoy and escorts) departed St. Malo on 2 May 1778. Florimond was aboard the frigate Amazone (36 guns), commanded by comte de la Pérouse. On 18 June, Rochambeau opened his 'secret orders' and announced the destination and mission of the expedition. After 70 days passage, the French expedition arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, on 11 July 1780.
Florimond, being one of the few French officers who could speak English, played an important role as Rochambeau's liaison with local authorities and American military staffs. Unfortunately, his liaison skills denied Florimond from participating in the French army's march from Newport to join the allied operations north of New York city in June 1781. He was designated to remain with a 400-man Newport garrison under the command of Marquis de Choisy. Florimond was sensitive to the 'slight' and took offensive during a 10 June dinner when a fellow officer offered to purchase his horse, as Florimond "would not have need for it." Insults were exchanged and both officers were wounded in a saber duel fought that night. Three weeks later they made up. In early August, Rochambeau sent for the Newport detachment and siege train to join the allied army in Virginia. Florimond deployed to Virginia with Barras' naval squadron that transported the French siege guns from Newport. He was present for the siege of Yorktown in 1781.
In February 1782, Florimond escorted some British prisoners, released from the hospital at Gloucester, Virginia, to New York. This was part of a prisoners' exchange for some French held by the British. During the procedures, one of the British prison guards expressed that he must had met Florimond before. The 1778 'fugitive' from the New York harbor British prison ship gave an evasive answer, and returned to Williamsburg, Virginia, with the freed, but very sick, Frenchmen. Unfortunately, most of the freed Frenchmen died soon after from illness acquired on the British ships. Florimond, himself, became ill and was hospitalized for nineteen days.
Denis Jean Florimond arrived back in France in late February 1783, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in June and awarded the Order of St. Louis in August of the same year. However, his membership into the French branch of The Society of The Cincinnati was denied because he had not held the rank of colonel or above during the American war. His highest rank in the French service was lieutenant colonel. Otherwise he met the requirment of 'three years of honorable service'. Florimond so coveted the membership that he boarded a packet for New York in late March 1784. He presented his case to the society in Philadelphia, and was awarded the society's medal by Washington on 17 May 1784. Florimond returned to France by the end of May with his prize.
For a while, Florimond's world was at its peak. He married in 1788; was granted a colonelcy of a provincial regiment in December 1788; and had a son in 1790. Then the French Revolution wreaked havoc in his life. Unable to support the rebels' cause, Florimond was one of the first to emigrate in the summer of 1791. He joined the counter-revolutionary army of the Prince de Condé. For the next ten years he was in exile, until the amnesty of 1802. He was then 50 years old. His property had been confiscated and he was financially destitute. His wife had died impoverished in France while Florimond was in exile, and he had two brothers die, one killed in the vicious Vendée resistance (1793) of the Royalists.
Florimond joined the Napoleonic army as a brigadier. However, being a royalist at heart, Florimond supported the Restoration in February 1814 and remained loyal to the Bourbon dynasty during the 'One Hundred Days'. A grateful Louis XVIII made him a marquis du Bouchet [by which title he is referred in many accounts] in December 1815, and promoted him to lieutenant general when he retired in 1816. Florimond died in Paris, 17 October 1826.
During his last years, Denis Jean Florimond de Langlois, marquis du Bouchet, reflected upon his life, so dramatically impacted by the American and the French Revolutions. He left a written testament of his strongly felt resentment in the dissolution of the ancien régime and his world of the privileged nobleman. His feelings are expressed in a three-volume manuscript begun in early 1822: 'le journal d'un émigré; ou cahier d'un etudiant en philosophie' ['The Journal of an Emigrant; or Memorial of a Student of Philosophy'].
The first volume (completed in late 1822 or early 1823) tells of Denis Jean Florimond's experience as a Frenchman in the Continental Army from Saratoga to Yorktown, and as a prisoner in New York harbor. The work provides a "rare glimpse into the personalities and motivations of French volunteers fighting for American independence,... [and] many interesting observations about life and customs in colonial America." But in it, the author also condemns the "subversive doctrines... germinated [and] nurtured" in America. Florimond's personal experiences led him to conclude that the American rebellion influenced some of the French participants into supporting the radical ideas that lay behind the "disastrous revolution of 1789" in France. The tone of Denis Jean Florimond de Langlois, marquis du Bouchet's manuscript separates him from many of the other French participants in the American war. While many historians may dismiss such a direct link in the motivating factors behind these two late eighteenth-century revolutions, the evidence of such feelings being expressed by one of the participants in both upheavals is interesting.
Marquis du Bouchet's manuscript was re-discovered in 1959 and is now part of the Rare and Manuscript collection of Cornell Library, where Dr. Robert Selig, noted historian on the American Revolution, inspected it first in 1997. Dr. Selig has provided broader public access to the manuscript in his article "A French Volunteer Who Lived to Rue America's Revolution," Colonial Williamsburg Journal (June/July 1999, pp.16-25). Dr. Selig's article is the main source for the summary on this webpage, and for the particular quotted passages therein.

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Jean-Joseph Sourbader de Gimat (1747-1793)

De Gimat was born in Gascony, France, and became an ensign in the Regiment de Guyenne in 1761. He advanced to the rank of lieutenant in June 1776. Along with de la Colombe and de Kalb, de Gimat accompanied Lafayette to America. When Lafayette reached Philadelphia in July 1777, de Gimat was granted a major's commission in the Continental Army, with a retroactive date of rank of 1 December, as previously agreed by the US Representative in Paris.

De Gimat served as Lafayette's aide until January 1779, when he returned to France on a leave of absence granted by Congress in November 1778. He returned to America with Lafayette in 1780.
On 17 February 1781, Washington assigned de Gimat command of a light infantry regiment, reformed from remnants of some depleted light infantry companies from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Rhode Island. On 22 February 1781, de Gimat's regiment departed thier Peekskill, New York, camp on 22 February 1781, and accompanied Lafayette force to Virginia. De Gimat and his regiment played an active part in the important 'Lafayette versus Cornwallis' campaign. The most prominant engagement was the Green Spring (Jamestown Ford) action on 6 July 1781.
At the siege of Yorktown, Lafayette selected de Gimat to lead the American attack on the British Redoubt 10. However, Hamilton successfully appealed to Washington for the honor, claming right of seniority. De Gimat's regiment did participate in 14/15 October night assault, in which de Gimat was recognized for his 'brilliant and distinguished conduct'. There is some disute in accounts as to whether de Gimat received his foot wound during the this assault, or at a later date.
On 4 January 1782, de Gimat departed from Philadelphia for France on indefinite leave. He returned to the service in the French army, with the rank of colonel, thought he would not receive his official discharge from the US Conintental Army until 3 November 1783. De Gimat was appointed commander of the Regiment de Martinique on 25 August 1782. He was Governor of St. Lucia from 21 June 1789 to 3 June 1792.

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Jean Baptiste Gouvion (1747-1792)

Gouvion was from Toul, the son of a royal administrator. On 1 January 1769 he became a (2nd) lieutenant at the engineering school of Mézières. On 25 January 1777, he was given leave of absence to go to America. He was one of four French military enginers sent to America in response to a special request of the US Congress (others were du Portail, La Radière, and de Laumoy). On 8 July 1777 Gouvion entered the US Continental Army with the rank (back-dated to 13 Feb '77) of Major of Engineers. On 17 November 1777, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

Gouvion worked with du Portail on planning and developing the fortifications at West Point in 1780. Gouvion also built the redoubt at Verplancks Point. He also took part in the Yorktown Campaign of August- September 1781. On 16 November 1781, Gouvion was breveted colonel, following which he returned to France on six months' leave. His official retirement from the US Continental Army was 10 October 1783, when he apparently had already returned to the French military service. He was killed in action at Maubeuge (11 June 1792), during the wars of the French Revolution.

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Jean Baptiste Joseph, chevalier de Laumoy (1750-1832)

Laumoy was the son of a French infantry captain. He entered the French military engineering school in 1760. He was made a sub lieutenant on 31 March 1768, and full lieutenant on 1 January 1770. On 18 January 1777 be made major, and soon after was ordered to America. He arrived in America in the early autumn of 1777.

On 17 November Laumoy was commissioned Colonel of Engineers. His first action was with Lafayette at Gloucester, New Jersey, (25 November 1777); after which, he joined Washington's winter camp at Valley Forge.
Laumoy was deployed to the southern operations area on 8 February 1779; and wounded at Stono Ferry, South Carolina, (20 June 1779?); and taken prisoner at Charleston (12 May 1780). He was exchanged on 26 November 1782. Laumoy was breveted Brigadier General on 30 September 1783, and honorbly discharged from the US Army the following month.
Though still technically in the US service, Laumoy he had been promoted to lieutenant colonel in the French army on 13 June 1783. He returned to France in December 1783. On 4 July 1784 he was awarded the chevalier de Saint Louis, a distinction his father had also received. On 1 July 1785, Laumoy was made Aide maréchal général des logis at San Domingo. Later, returning to France, he was Mestre de camp on 2 December 1787. For some months in 1788, he served on the army general staff. On 14 February 1789, he was second in command at Martinique, when the French suppressed a rebellion by island's large African salve and ex-slave population. As one of the hated administrators, Laumoy was obliged to return to France in May 1790.
For a while, Laumoy held a number of high administrative posts in the French Revolutionary Army. However, but along with Lafayette, he was forced to flee in August 1792. He lived in Holland, but escaped to American when Napoleon invaded The Netherlands. Laumoy lived in Philadelphia until he was removed from the émigré list. He returned to France in the summer of 1801. He he retired in 1810, and died 19 January 1832.

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Thomas Conway (1733-1795)

The Irish-born Thomas Conway was taken to France at age 6. He entered the French army in 1749, and became a lieutenant en second in in the Regiment de Clare on 16 December 1747. In 1772 he was promoted to colonel, and on 26 April 1775 joined the Anjou Regiment. With a letter of introduction from Silas Deane, Conway embarked 14 December 1776 for America. He reached Morristown 8 May 1777, where he made an initial favorable impression on Washington. On 13 May he was made Brigadier General and assigned to Sullivan's Division. He served with that unit at the battles of Brandywine (September 1777) and Germantown (October 1777).

He then launched into controversial activities that involved some written documents and rumored conversataions wherein he was critical of George Washington's leadership. The affair is often described as the 'Conway Cabal'. However, many historians disagree as to whether any real 'cabal' [an organized conspiracy] actually existed. It seems to be a convient label to group the many letters and rumors, by several individuals, that were critical Washington's leadership during this low period in the Revolution. Such comments were associated with correspondence exchanged by Gates and Conway to members of the Congress. For a time, Conway had considerable influence among some of the members of Congress; and on 13 December 1777, Conway was promoted over the heads of 23 other brigadiers to Major General, and made Inspector General. However, Washington directly confronted the rumors with a letter to Congress, and Conway's fortune began to wane. Lafayette refused to accept Conway as second in command of his projected [but never executed] expedition into Canada. On 23 March 1778, Conway was placed under Mc Dougall's command at Peekskill, NY. Resentful in not receiving a separate command of his own, Conway wrote Congress a reproachful letter with a threat to resign. To Conway's shock and embarrassment, Congress promptly accepted his resignation.
Conway engaged in an argument with John Cadwalader that resulted in a duel. Conway was wounded in the confrontation. As he lay in bed recovering, Conway wrote Washington a letter denying that he ever plotted against him. Washington evidently did not reply.
On 1 July 1779, Conway returned to the French Army and was assigned aide-major-général of the Army in Flanders. On 1 March 1780 he was made Brigadier General. A year later he became colonel of the Pondichéry Regiment, and on 1 January 1784 was maréchal de camp. Conway was designated 'Governor General of French Forces in India' on 9 March 1787, and elevated to 'Governon General of all French Forces beyond Cape of Good Hope' on 14 April 1789. On 26 August he was replaced by a man of 'more republican linage'. In 1793 he was back in France, but his royalist affiliations forced him to flee the country. He died in exile about 1800.

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Philippe Charles Jean Baptiste Tronson de Coudray (1738-1777)

Born in Reims. Became a lieutenant in the artillery in 1760. On 14 September 1776, he became chef de brigade. "By a combination of tireless energy, brains and strong court connections, the 38-year-old officer appeared to be headed for the top." His brother Alexandre ws Marie Antoinette's avocat. He had tutored the comte d'Artois in the art of war and had been technical advisor to several secretaries of war, including Saint Germain.

Coudray was selected to cull the French arsenals for matériel to be sent convertly to America without imparing French combat effectiveness. He worked with Gribeauval, whose significant artillery reforms were just being adopted in France. He also supervised the initial selection of artillery and engineer officers to be deployed to America as 'technical advisors'. Coudray's professional competence impressed Gribeauval, Beaumarchais, Silas Deane, and the French government ministers. With such endorsements, Deane signed an agreement that granted the French officer a Major General's ranks and the title of 'General of Artillery and Ordnance' in the American army. Further, the agreement stated that Coudray would have "the direction of whatever relates to the artillery and Corps of Engineers." Such authority had not been coordinated with the American Congress or senior military commanders.
Coudray reached America in May 1777, accompanied by about 18 officers and 10 non-comissioned officers. He immediately confronted American authorities who were becoming weary of the foreign military 'adventurers', However, Congress perceived it necessary to respect Deane's agreement with Coudray for fear of jeopardizing the broader French assistance program. Nevertheless, the American generals Greene, Knox, and Sullivan threatened to resign if Coudray were made senior to them.
Not only was Coudray perceived as arrogant in respect to his American peers, but his presence instigated disruptive rivalry and jealousy between himself and the earlier deployed French engineers who had been sent at the special request of the US Congress. The leader of the earlier group was the able and highly respected du Portail. On 11 August 1777, Congress finessed the situtation by designating Coudray 'Major General of the staff', which had no command authority over the major generals 'of the line'. He was also awarded the impressive and newly created title of 'Inspector General of Ordinance and Military Manufactories'.
The potentiality for further disruption was solved by Providence, when on 15 September 1777, Coudray insisted upon remaining mounted on his horse as he attempted to cross [by ferry or over a pontoon bridge -- historians disagree] the Schuylkill River, near Philadelphia. His horse bolted and took its rider into the river, where Coudray drowned. Reportedly only his aide de camp attempted to save him. As with Conway, Coudray's intrigues were of considerable embarrassment to the many other fine French officer volunteers serving in the US Continental army.

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Pierre-François Vernier (1737-1780)

Vernier was born in Belfort, France. He volunteered in a mounted corps in 1752 and made lieutenant in a regiment of foreign volunteers four years later. During the Seven Years' War (1756-63), he saw action at St. Cast (11 September 1758) and received a gunshot wound in the thigh at Vildungen (25 July 1760). He retired 1 January 1768 and was assigned to the Invalides in Paris. A note in his French service records described him as "a good man, but negligent and unstable."

Records of Vernier's service in the American forces are skimpy. He is identified as a major in the 1st cavalry, Pulaski's Legion, on 23 February 1779. When Pulaski was mortally wounded at the disaster of Savannah, Georgia (9 October 1779), Vernier and took command of what was left of that cavalry unit. Vernier was, himself, mortally wounded later in a cavalry action against Tarlton at Monck's Corner, South Carolina (14 April 1780).

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Gilles-Jean-Marie-Rolland Barazer de Kermovan (1740-1817)

Chevalier de Kermorvan arrived in America early June 1776. He served in the Continental Army as an engineer, involved with fortifications at Billingsport, below Philadelphia on the Delaware River, and at Perth Amboy, opposite Staten Island. Barazer was one of those who expressed criticism of others and exhibited an unrestrained ambition to replace the more senior engineers such as du Portail and Thadeusz Kosciusszko. He apparently "made himself 'disagreeable ' to General Washington and his army staff with his stupid criticism of all military operations" during the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign, and was 'invited to leave' the headquarters of Washington's army. Barazer went on to serve with Morgan's riflemen at Saratoga. However, he failed to attract the recognition that he believed was his due and returned to France in late 1778 or 1779.

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Michel Capitaine du Chesnoy (1746-1804)

'Capitaine' is part of his name, and not a rank; his name is also written 'Capitaine-Duchesnoy'. Du Chesnoy was a tranied French military cartographer who served as a major in the Continental Army. He was an aide-de-camp to Lafayette, and depicted most of Lafayette's campaigns and engagements. A list of his maps is in Peter Guthorn's American Maps and Map Makers of the American Revolution (1966). Du Chesnoy left some descriptions of Lafayette's 1781 campaign in Virginia prior to the arrival of Washington's and Rochambeau's armies. These manuscripts are "Campagne en Virginie du Major Général Marquis de La Fayette en 1781" and "Journal du Siège d'York," and are held by the Yale University Library.

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Pierre Colomb (1754-c.1817)

Colomb arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1776. He obtained a captain's commission in the Georgia Regiment, and served in the May-June 1777 East Flordia expedition. Later, Colomb was taken prisoner when the British besieged and captured Savannah in 1779. Near the end of the war, he was part of a prisoner exchange, and visited Philadelphia and Washington's headquarters at New Windsor, New York, before returnig to France. A manuscript of his 'memoirs' was partly translated into English and published as "Memoirs of a Revolutionary Soldier," Mary A. Benhamin, ed. The Collector, A Magazine for Autograph and Historical Collectors (New York; Oct. 1950, Nov. 1950, Dec. 1950, and Jan. 1951). ['Colomb' should not be confused with 'Colombe', an aide-de-camp of Lafayette. ]

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Charles-François, chevalier [later vicomte] Du Buysson des Aix (1752-1786)

Du Buysson des Aix [also written 'Dubuysson des Hays'] came over to American on the Victoire with Lafayette. He served in the Continental Army from 1777 to 1780. Du Buysson rose from major to lieutenant colonel in the Continental Army. He served as aide-de-camp to Baron de Kalb, and was wounded at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina (16 August 1780). Du Buysson became a Brigadier General in North Carolina Militia.

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Pierre-Etienne Du Ponceau (1760-1844)

Du Ponceau [Duponceau] was introduced by Beaumarchais to Baron von Steuben in Paris. He accompanied the Baron to America as an English-speaking secretary and aide-de-camp, landing at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in December 1777. Du Ponceau was made captian in the Continental Army, and spent the winter of 1778 at Valley Forge. He aided in the preparaton of von Steuben's Regulations for the Order and Discpline of the Troops of the United States (Philadelphia, 1779). In spring 1781, Du Ponceau was in Virginia, but illness forced his returned north to Philadelphia before the siege at Yorktown. Du Ponceau found employment in the US foreign department and remained in the US, becoming a citizen, and was elected President of the American Philosophical Society from 1827 until his death in 1844. A manuscript of his diary covers his first months in American (1777-1778) is held by the Historical Society of Delaware, Wilmington. It includes diagrammatic plans of the Valley Forge encampment. He also left some 'autobiographical letteres' that were published as "The Autobiography of Peter Stephen Duponceau," ed. James L. Whitehead, in the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, (April, July, October of 1939; and January, April of 1940)

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Pierre Landais (1734-c.1820)

Landais had sailed around the world with Bougainville in 1767-1769, before coming to America and joining the American naval service. He was commissioned captain in the Continental Navy in 1777. He had problems in dealing with American seamen. He had some differences with John Paul Jones at the time of the famous engagement between the Bonhomme Richard and Serapis (23 Sep. 1779). Then in 1781, there was a munity aboard his ship Alliance, which resulted in a court-martial, and led to Landais' separation from US service. He returned to French naval service, and survived the French Revolution. However, Landais he returned to the United States, where he remained until his death "some time after 1820."

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Thomas-Antoine, chevalier de Maudit du Plessis (1753-1791)

Maudit du Plessis was commissioned a captain of artillery in the Continental Army, and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He distinguished himself at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Red Bank and Monmouth. He returned to France with Lafayette in 1779. He was in Rochambeau's expeditionary force to American in 1780-1783. Except for some letters (dated in 1782) to Mary Willing Byrd of Westover, he left no written accounts. However, he was frequently mentioned in the journals of others. Maudit du Plessis' death, in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, inspired a French play and other tributes to him in France.

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Charles-Albert de Moré de Pontgibaud (1758-1837)

De Pontgibaud left France in 1777 and joined the American army at Valley Forge, where he became an aide to Lafayette and received his commission as a major in the Continental Army. Taveling with Lafayette, de Pontgibaud went back to France in 1778, and returned to American in 1780. De Pontgibaud participated in Siege of Yorktown with the Americans, and remained in the American service until 1783. He came to American as an émigré during the French Revolution. De Pontgibaud's Mémoires were published in Paris, in 1827 and in 1897.

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Philippe-Hubert, chevalier de Preudhomme de Borre (b.1717)

Preudhomme de Borre arrived in American at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 17 March 1777. He went directly to Washington's headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey, where he received his brevet as brigadier general on 7 May. De Borre was given command of the Second Brigade in Sullivan's division, at Princeton on 21 May. His poor conduct at the Battle of Brandywine (28 Sep 1777) led to an investigation. De Borre resigned his commission, but remained in the US for more than a year before departing from Charleston, 20 Jan 1779, to return to France. He left an unpublished manuscript "Journal des campagnes de 1777 et 1778 au service des colonies unies de l'Amérique" in the French Archives de la Guerre.

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Louis des Hayes de La Radière (1744-1779)

La Radière was one of the team of three French engineers who accompanied du Portail in joining the American Continental Army in 1777. The other two were Gouvion and Laumoy. This small cadre held a special status as 'envoys of the king' and were in response to a specific American request for military engineers from the French Government. La Radière was brevetted a major before leaving France in March 1777, appointed a lieutenant colonel by Congress on 8 July 1777, and promoted to colonel in the American Army on 17 Nov. 1777. La Radière was involved in the early design and construction of fortifications at West Point, NY, where he died on 30 Oct. 1779. Circumstances of his death are not recorded.

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Pierre Charles L'Enfant (1754-1825)

Pierre Charles l'Enfant was born in Paris, and was a Lt. Col. of colonial troops in the French army when he answered the call for volunteers to serve with the American Army. His contract with Silas Deane backdated his rank as lieutenant of Engineers to 1 Dec 1776. He arrived in America with Coudray in 1777, and spent the winter at Valley Forge. L'Enfant was promoted to captain of engineers on 18 February 1778, and was attached to Steuben's staff. Later, l'Enfant transferred to the Southern Department, where he served under John Laurens as an infantry officer. L'Enfant was wounded while leading troops in the attack on British-held Savannah (9 October 1779). He was taken to Charleston, S.C. to recover. Leaving his sick-bed, L'Enfant participated in the defense of the city during the British siege in 1780. He was taken prisoner when the city surrendered on 12 May 1780. L'Enfant was not released until Rochambeau arranged for his exchange in January 1782. Returning to Philadelphia in May 1782, l'Enfant was breveted Major in the American Army.

At the end of the war, l'Enfant received a French pension of 300 livres and was promoted to captain in the French provincial forces. He had earned a reputation for drawing and designing pageants while in the American service. This led to him being asked to designed the insignia and diploma of the Society of the Cincinnati, and to convert the New York City Hall into a Federal building to temporally be occupied by the new American government. In 1791, he submitted his design concept for Washington, D.C. However, with this and some other following projects, l'Enfant's 'grandiose' schemes called for far more costs than the public officials could accept. He was dismissed from the Washington project, as well as some later ones. L'Enfant became embittered and died in New York with very little assets. In 1909, his body was removed from its original unmarked grave and reburied in Arlington Cemetery.

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Jean-Louis-Ambroise de Genton, chevalier de Villefranche (1747-1784)

Chevalier de Villefranche arrived in America with the troublesome Coudray. After Coudray's accidental death, de Villefranche worked well with the rival French engineer team under du Portail. With the other French engineers he surveyed the Philadelphia defenses in 1779. Later in the same year, he was one of many engineers who worked on West Point defenses. In 1780, he replaced Kosciusko (who was reassigned to the Southern Department) as the chief engineer at West Point. De Villefranche had the difficult task of working under Maj Gen Benedict Arnold (commander of West Point since 3 August 1779). Arnold's treasonable intentions undermined many of de Villefranche's efforts, until Arnold's treachery was discovered in September 1780. In 1781, de Villefranche temporally held the position as 'chief engineer' in the American army as du Portail had returned to France and other engineers who outranked de Villefranche were prisoners of the British. In spring 1782, Washington had de Villefranche return to improving West Point's fortifications, where de Villefranche positioned the powder magazine at Constitution Island, in opposition to the more dangerous site on the west side of the river being considered by the American commander. In 1783, de Villefranche worked with Steuben on a survey of 'peacetime fortifications' on Lake Champlain.

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Chastellux, François-Jean de Beauvoir, Chevalier de (1734-1788)

Oil painting by Camille Roquemlan of the chevalier de Chastellux. (Musée de Versailles)

Chastellux Chastellux entered the Auvergne Regiment of the French army at age 13, and was a colonel at the age of 21. He saw action in the European theater during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), but undertook a dual career as a writer. He became famous for works on military, political, and technical topics, as well as on philosophy. He also wrote some for the theater and became fluent in English. This latter skill made him a valuable senior officer on Rochambeau's staff in the expedition of 1781-83 to North America. With the rank of major general, he held the position of maréchal de camp until after the Yorktown Campaign.

Chastellux is probably most known for his exceptionally informative journal Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781, and 1782. A remarkable work of casual, scholarly observation of events as he witnessed them during his tour. It is remarkable the locations and varied social groups Chastellux visited and reported upon. He was the first officer of the French expedition to visit George Washington, and remained a trusted liaison officer to the American general. Although Chastellux was technically not a ‘volunteer' in the service of the American Army, his personal intellectual attributes [multilingual and broadly educated] made him an invaluable staff officer for the Allied American and French forces, and he can easily be listed among the "volunteers" who effectively assisted the Americans military headquarters. In Philadelphia, Chastellux was unanimously elected member of the American Philosophical Society at the same time as was Lafayette.
In 1784, Chastellux became a 'marquis' and was accepted into the French Academy. He became military Governor of Gongwy, and later held the position of Inspector General in the army. He married in 1787, but died the following year of a fever.

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Estienne Nicolas Marie Béchet, Sieur de Rochefontaine (1755-1814)

Born near Reims, France, in 1755, Estienne [Stephen] Rochefontaine came to America in 1778 after failing to gain a position in the French Royal Corps of Engineers. He volunteered in General Washington's Army on 15 May 1778, and was appointed captain in the Corps of Engineers on 18 September 1778. For his distinguished services at the siege of Yorktown, Rochefontaine was given the brevet rank of major by Congress, 16 November 1781. He returned to France in 1783, and served as an infantry officer, reaching the rank of colonel in the French Army.
        Rochefontaine came back to the United States in 1792, and anglicized his first name to ‘Stephen'. President Washington appointed Rochefontaine a civilian engineer to fortify the New England coast in 1794. After the new Corps of Artillerists and Engineers was organized, Washington made Rochefontaine a lieutenant colonel and commandant of the new Corps on 26 February 1795. Rochefontaine started a military school at West Point in 1795. With so many French military engineers involved in the Continental Army, the school was most likely to be patterned after the artillery and engineering curriculum at Ecole du Corps Royal du Geme at Mezieres, France. However, the building and all his equipment were burned in 1796. Rochefontaine left the Army on 7 May 1798, and lived in New York City, where he died 30 January 1814. He is buried in old St. Paul's Cemetery in New York City.

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Statement of Attribution:
Most of the material in this page has been taken from:
Bodinier's Les officiers de l'armée royale ...,
Villanueva's The French Contribution to the Founding of the United States,
Boatner's Encyclopedia of the American Revolution,
Walker's Engineers of Independence.
Jouves' Paris: Birthplace of the U.S.A.; A Walking Guide For The American Patriot,
Rice and Brown, The American Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army.
Selig, (various articles, as referenced)
See bibliography page for full citation of these works.

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Page posted 5 October 2002; last revised 30 September 2014.