France played a key role in the American Revolution (1765-1783)
and during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783).
The American Revolution was a political upheaval that took place between 1765 and 1783 during which colonists in the “Thirteen American Colonies” rejected the British monarchy and aristocracy, overthrew the authority of Great Britain.
The Unilateral Declaration of Independence July 4th 1776 is the statement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting at Philadelphia, PA on July 4, 1776, which announced that the “Thirteen American colonies”, then at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain, regarded themselves as thirteen newly independent sovereign states, and no longer under British rule. Instead they formed a new nation, the United States of America.
1775-1776-1777 : France secretly helps the American Insurgents
-In 1768: Baron de Kalb a Bavarian-born French military officer who served in the Loewendal German Regiment of the French Army, traveled to America on a covert mission to determine the level of discontent among colonists. He was sent to America by de Choiseul, (Chief Minister of the French King Louis XVI) on behalf of France. During the trip, he gained a respect for the colonists and their « spirit of independence ».
-In 1775: France began secretly sending supplies to the American Insurgents through different agents like Beaumarchais and French Secret Services.
-In 1776: In beginning of the spring, France secretly sent military aid (predominantly gunpowder) through a company called “Rodrigue Hortalez et Compagnie”.
-In 1777: France had been sent secretly to the American rebels over five million “livres” of aid.
Battles of Saratoga / (September 19 and October 7, 1777)
–First battle: Pyrrhic British victory
–Second battle: Decisive “American” victory and British surrender October 17.
News of Burgoyne’s surrender was instrumental in formally bringing France into the war as an American Insurgents ally, although it had previously given supplies, ammunition, and guns, notably the de Valliere cannon, which played an important role in Saratoga. Many estimates place the percentage of French supplied arms to the Insurgents in the Saratoga campaign up to 90%.
Saratoga: Surrender of General Burgoyne / General Daniel Morgan in front of a « de-Valièere-4-Pounder canon »
1778-1782 – France officialy and fully aids the American Insurgents
Prior to the Battles of Saratoga, France didn’t fully aid the colonists. However, after the Battles of Saratoga were conclusively won by the colonists, France realized that the “Americans” had hope of winning the war, and began fully aiding the colonists by sending soldiers, money, donations, loans, military arms, supplies and a Treaty was signed between the two parts.
Treaty of Alliance – February 1778
American Revolutionary War – French support 1778-1782
Treaty of Alliance with France
Monument to the Alliance and Victory Yorktown VA (Today)
The Franco-American alliance or Franco-American Treaty was signed between the Kingdom of France and the “United States” (13 English colonies of America) during the American Revolutionary War. The two parts signed the treaty along with a “Treaty of Amity and Commerce” in Paris on February 6, 1778 (Ending in 1800).
It was a defensive alliance between France and the “United States” and gave “open support from the French Army, Navy and Treasury” to the “United States” in case of attack by British forces indefinitely into the future.
Later Spain (in 1779) and Dutch (1780) became allies of France
-In June 1779, Spain join France in the war against the Kingdom of Great Britain implementing the Treaty of Aranjuez signed in April between France and Spain, but not with the American Rebels
-In December 20, 1780 The English declared war to Netherlands for their secret trade and negotiations with the American colonies, then in revolt against Kingdom of Great Britain . Dutch join France in the war against the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Louis XVI, King of France and Navare 1774-1791. By A.F. Callet 1786
*1st « French Expedition » in America under Comte d’Estaing 1778-1779
In the summer of 1778, French Admiral d’Estaing arrived with a fleet of 12 ships of the line, 14 frigates and infantry reinforcements for the war (4000 sailors and troops). The mission was to sail and fight along the American coast and Antilles until the end of the war (d’Estaing returned to France in Oct. 1779).
Comte d’Estaing, Admiral
*2nd « French Expedition » in America under Comte de Rochambeau 1780-1781/1782
On July 11, 1780, under the command of French Comte de Rochambeau arrived the « Expédition Particulière » a fleet and 6,000 French troops and sailors to join the Continental army, under George Washington.
Comte de Rochambeau, Marshal of France
Rochambeau Statue and Memorial
It is a monument to French nobleman and General Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, who was a key commander of the French forces who assisted the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.
The monument is located on the waterfront in King Park, along the southern edge of Newport Harbor, near Brenton Cove and Fort Adams state park and was erected in 1934. From wikipedia
French artillery park at Yorktown (Artist’s conception). The flag appears to be that of the French Régiment d’artillerie d’Auxonne.
The « Gribeauval system », and the « Canon de 12 », was first used for major operations in the American Revolutionary War, in Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau’s French expeditionary corps, from 1780 to late 1782, and especially at the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. The Gribeauval system had been adopted by the French army on 15 October 1765 and supplanted a system established in 1732 by Florent-Jean de Vallière.
The French Navy under de Grasse and the « Corps de troupe des Antilles » under Saint Simon join the Franco-American ground Forces of Washington and Rochambeau in Yorktown,VA
In 1781, the french navy played a decisive role in supporting the Franco-American ground Forces and defeated a British fleet at the Battle of the Chesapeake in 1781, thus ensuring that the Franco-American ground forces would win the ongoing Siege of Yorktown, (September 28, 1781 – October 19, 1781) the last major land battle of the Revolutionary War. France continued to fight against the British in the 1782 “Antilles War.”
Comte de Grasse, Admiral
French Navy, Battle of yorktown 1781
The plaque says,
« Two of the most significant Revolutionary War leaders at Yorktown were General George Washington in command of the allied ground forces and Admiral Franois De Grasse in command of the French Fleet controlling the nearby waters. Their roles were closely linked but them met only twice. Both meeting were held on De Grasse’s Flagship, Ville de Paris. The first was on September 20 to complete planning for the attack on Yorktown and the other was on October 21 to explore future operations in the south. »
Claude Anne Rouvroy, Marquis de Saint Smon, Major General
Major General Claude-Anne Rouvroy, Marquis de Saint-Simon and his force had been deployed to the West Indies when France entered the war in 1779. He commanded the contingent of three French regiments: Agenais, Gâtinais, and Touraine. These forces were designated to support French and Spain’s operations in the West Indies, as well as special excursions to the main North American Continent. Units of the Régiment d’Agenais and Régiment de Touraine were with with D’Estaing’s unsuccessful assault at Savannah (1779). All three of the regiments (3000 soldiers) were transported in September 1781 to the Chesapeake by the Count de Grasse.
The Battle of Yorktown, or the Surrender at Yorktown, ending on October 19, 1781, at Yorktown, Virginia, was a decisive victory by a combined force of American Continental Army troops led by General George Washington and French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by British lord and Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis.
After initial preparations, the Americans and French built their first parallel and began the bombardment. With the British defense weakened, Washington and Rochambeau on October 14, 1781, sent two columns to attack the last major remaining British outer defenses. A French column took redoubt #9 and an American column led by Lafayette took redoubt #10. With these defenses taken, the British situation began to deteriorate rapidly and Cornwallis asked for capitulation terms on the 17th.
With the capture of more than 7,000 British soldiers, negotiations between the United States and Great Britain began, resulting in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
This painting depicts the forces of British Major General Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis (1738-1805) (who was not himself present at the surrender…), surrendering to French (left) and American (right) forces after the Siege of Yorktown (September 28 – October 19, 1781) during the American Revolutionary War. By John Trumbull 1820.