Dedicated on May 24, 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt, this monument commemorates the life of Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau. This monument was dedicated to Rochambeau in recognition of his military service to the American colonies during the Battle of Yorktown in the Revolutionary War. The monument is placed in the southwest corner of Lafayette Square. The monument serves as a reminder of the alliance between France and the American colonists who fought for independence from Britain. During the dedication ceremony of the monument, President Roosevelt stated to the French diplomats, "because the history of the United States has been so interwoven with what France has done for us...the American people, through me, extend their thanks to you."
Backstory and Context
The following year, General Cornwallis and his troops made their way into Virginia. Rochambeau convinced General George Washington that they needed to concentrate all of their forces on the Virginia Peninsula. Over 12,000 men, artillery, supplies, and two French fleets converged on the British at Yorktown. On October 19, 1781, Cornwallis surrendered and the British ended the war shortly thereafter.
When the war was over, Rochambeau returned to France but continued to correspond with George Washington. Rochambeau tried to retire from the military but his plans were put on hold due to the French Revolution in 1789 when King Louis XVI promoted him to Marshal of France. During the Reign of Terror in 1793, Rochambeau was arrested due to the king being overthrown and the rise of Robespierre. Rochambeau was freed and his life was saved about a year later when Robespierre passed away. Then on May 12, 1807 Rochambeau passed at the age of 83.
The American Revolution. Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807). Accessed April 30, 2017. http://www.ouramericanrevolution.org/index.cfm/people/view/pp0028.