COMTE DE ROCHAMBEAU. AUTOGRAPH ENDORSEMENT SIGNED Dated 12, April 1780. Only weeks After he is sent to Aid Washington against the British
Category: Revolutionary War
Item Number: 14486
[Yorktown] Comte de Rochambeau
ROCHAMBEAU, JEAN-BAPTISTE-DONATIEN DE VIMEUR, COMTE DE AUTOGRAPH ENDORSEMENT SIGNED ("LE CTE. DE ROCHAMBEAU"), IN FRENCH, WITH AUTOGRAPH NOTE
2 pages folio on a bifolium (11 3/4 x 9 5/8 in; 300 x 220 mm), Vendôme, 1 April 1780; ink and damp stains, tiny restauration with paper not affecting the text, mounted on paper. In March 1780, French King Louis XVI selected Rochambeau to command the army being sent to America, with orders to aid General Washington. Overcoming the incredibly daunting logistical difficulty of moving 5,500 men across the Atlantic Ocean, Rochambeau arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, in July 1780. The French expeditionary force that landed at Newport in July 1780 was expected by the Americans to have an immediate impact on their war for freedom. But the commander of the nearly 5,300 infantry- and artillerymen, the comte de Rochambeau, saw no real chance of success in the field without the support of a French fleet, and he settled his men in Newport for a long encampment. After nearly a year of inactivity by the Rochambeau's troops, tensions between the fledgling allies mounted; on 9 April 1781, Washington confided to John Laurens that "it may be declared in a word, that we are at the end of our tether, and that now or never our deliverance must come" (Writings, ed. Firzpatrick, 21:439). At just the time that Washington sent this despairing surmise, Louis XVI sent Admiral de Grasse into New World waters, bound for the West Indies, but allowing for the possibility that he might assist Rochambeau if called for. Rochambeau and General George Washington met the next month to plan the most complex operation of the American Revolution. The march to Yorktown yoked together two armies-as well as the French navy-operating under different languages, different rules of engagement, and different political agendas. The success of this maneuver was largely due to Rochambeau's meticulous preparation, as well as willingness to ultimately subvert himself and his men to the command of General Washington. Provenance Sotheby's.