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Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau letter of recommendation (RLC.Ms.558)

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Biographical note

Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807), was a French nobleman and general who supported the American Revolution (1775-1783) by commanding French forces which helped to defeat British troops at Yorktown, Virginia.

Rochambeau earned the rank of colonel after serving in the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748). He continued to rise through the ranks of the French Army by becoming a brigadier general and inspector of cavalry in 1761, and in 1776 he was named governor of Villefrance-en-Roussillon. In 1780, King Louis XVI of France appointed him to Lieutenant General of the French army, and he was placed in command of 6,000 soldiers sent to North America to support the American colonists in their struggle for independence from England. Rochambeau and his troops arrived in Newport, Rhode Island, in July 1780, and later joined forces with George Washington’s Continental Army in 1781. The two combined forces marched from New York south to Yorktown, which ultimately led to the British surrender in October 1781.

Upon Rochambeau’s return to France in 1783, he was named Governor of Picardy and was appointed the commander of Calais and later of the Alsace district. During the French Revolution (1787-1799), he commanded the Army of the North (1790-1791) and was created a marshal of France in 1791. He was arrested during the Reign of Terror (September 5, 1793-July 27, 1794), but was able to escape the guillotine and was later pensioned by Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). Rochambeau died on May 10, 1807.