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Description

Contemporary Map Showing Rochambeau's March from Boston to Yorktown in 1781.

Fascinating Revolutionary War Battle map, which traces Rochambeau's route between Boston to Williamsburg and Yorktown. The map is prepared from original French sources and is the only contemporary printed map to illustrate Rochambeau's march to Yorktown, doing so in remarkable detail.

There are 54 camps shown between Williamsburg and Boston, 40 between Providence and Yorktown, 8 between Lebanon, CT and Philipsburgh NY, 7 between Trenton and Kakiak NJ and 14 marches from near Annapolis to the vicinity of Williamsburg, each of the camps being numbered.

In the Rochambeau Collection housed in the Library of Congress, there is a very similar appearing manuscript map which bears the title Cote De York-town A Boston: Marches De L'Armee 1782. It is probable that the author of this map used the original Rochambeau manuscript map as the source for this work.

The map appeared in Francois Soules' Histoire des troubles de l'Amerique Anglais, published in Paris in 1787. Because the map lacks a title and is therefore somewhat difficult to describe, it has not gotten the attention that it deserves in contemporary bibliographies.

Overview

In 1780, French King Louis XVI dispatched Rochambeau, in command of 450 officers and 5,300 men, to aid Washington and the colonial forces. They arrived in Narragansett Bay off Newport, Rhode Island, on July 10, 1780.

In June 1781, Rochambeau prepared to march from Rhode Island to join the Continental Army near White Plains, New York. He divided his force into four regiments: "Royal DeuxPonts" under the Baron de Viomenil; "Soissonnais" under the Baron's brother, Count de Viomenil; "Saintonge", under the Marquis de Custinel; and a fourth regiment. This final unit remained in Providence, where it guarded the baggage and munitions stored in the Old Market House, and supported the surgeons and attendants at the hospital in University Hall.

Judging from the maps in the Rochambeau Collection and the early maps of Providence, the French army started leaving, on June 19, the camp ground between Broad and Plane Streets, passed through the present Stewart Street to High Street, and west along this to the "junction" (Hoyle Tavern), where they took the road to the left, Cranston Street (then called the Monkey Town road) that went to Knightsville (then Monkeytown). They continued right, following the old Scituate road over Dugaway Hill past the late Pippin Orchard School house, over Apple House Hill, Bald Hill, crossing the Pawtuxet River at the village of Kent and on to Waterman's Tavern - a first day's march of 15 miles.

The French forces marched across Connecticut to join George Washington on the Hudson River at Dobbs Ferry, New York. The advance party was led by Armand Louis de Gontaut or Duc de Lauzun. Lauzun's Legion marched ahead of the main army and stayed ten to fifteen miles (24 km) to the south protecting the exposed flank from the British.

The combined American and French armies marched through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, a route that allowed them to evade British troops. They reached Williamsburg, Virginia, in late September 1781. On September 22, they combined with troops commanded by the Marquis de Lafayette.

The French royal fleet blocked the Chesapeake, preventing the British from either delivering reinforcements from New York or evacuating General Cornwallis' army by sea. A three-week siege of Yorktown led to Cornwallis' surrender on October 19, 1781.

Washington's force then moved to defend northern posts. Rochambeau's force wintered in Williamsburg, then marched north in the summer of 1782 to Boston, Massachusetts.

Reference
Nebenzahl 185; Verner, Yorktown Campaign XII.