A French Army led by Gen. Rochambeau is sent to the U.S. 

Latest changes: 2013-09-05: remove all land activity of the FEF / 2014-07-03: note capture of 52 British transports /

Color Codes for the French Naval Commanders

D'Orvilliers, du Chauffault de Grasse, Vaudreuil
de Guichen, Monteil Spanish: Gálvez, Cordoba
d'Estaing d'Estienne-d'Orves, Suffren
Ternay, Des Touches, Barras other events

1780 Feb 11 to 1780 May 12:  Second Siege of Charleston (SC) -- Britsh Gen. Howe left New York City by sea on 1779 Dec 26 with 8,500 troops, bound for Savannah GA. After a difficult voyage he rested there, then on 1780 Feb 11 sailed to Charleston SC, laid siege to the city (defended by the U.S. Southern Army), and forced it to surrender.
Casualties U.S. 90 killed, 140 wounded; British 76 killed, 189 wounded
Taken Prisoner: U.S. 5,466, including 290 Continental officers. Many of these died while imprisoned.
1780 Mar 13-17 -  Spanish forces under Gen. Bernardo Gálvez captured British forts at Mobile (now in Alabama).
Washington's Second Front, by Ralph N. Cramer, Sr. [Florida Society SAR] describes the entire campaign.
1780 March 21: Lafayette left France aboard the 26-gun frigate Hermione, to bring to General Washington the good news that French General Rochambeau was assembling an expeditionary force of 8,000 troops to arrive in the U.S. in several months.

1780 April: After a 38-day crossing he landed in Boston, then rode to Morristown NJ where the Continental Army was in winter quarters. His service as liaison between Generals Washington and Rochambeau did not work well and he was given a field command over several regiments of the Continental army. See Lafayette vs Cornwallis"

1780 Apr 17 and May 19: Luc Urbain de Bouëxic, comte de Guichen, commanded a French fleet that left the French naval base at Brest, France, on Feb 3 and arrived in Martinique on Mar 22. His French navy rank was Lieutenant général des armées navales, but here we shall call him Admiral de Guichen -- using the nearest modern equivalent U.S. rank. This fleet engaged the British fleet under Admiral Rodney in naval battles off Martinique (West Indies). In August de Guichen left with a part of the French fleet to escort a Spanish convoy to Cadiz, Spain, arriving Oct 23. Adm. Monteil took command of the remaining French forces in the West Indies.
1780 May 02: Charles-Henri-Louis d'Arsac, chevalier de Ternay commanded a French fleet that sailed from Brest carrying General Rochambeau and part of the French Expeditionary Force. His French navy rank was chef d'escadre, but here we shall call him Rear Admiral Ternay -- using the nearest modern equivalent U.S. rank. Rear Admiral Ternay commanded seven ships-of-the-line and four frigates as protection for 33 transport ships.

Due to lack of troop transports one-third of the troops and all of the horses assigned to the French Expeditionary Force were left behind to be shipped out when additional resources were available. The troops that embarked consisted about 4,500 soldiers and 1,000 support personnel in four infantry regiments and Lauzun's Legion -- which was half infantry and half cavalry. See July 11 below for their arrival at Newport RI.
Rochambeau's full name was Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau.
See Rochambeau's biography [Wikipedia]
1780 May 26: An attack by between 1,300 and 2,000 British-led Sioux, Sac, Fox, and Winnebago warriors on the 900 (mostly French) inhabitants of the town of St. Louis (in what is now Missouri) failed. The town had been fortified after George Rogers Clark (of Virginia) told the Spanish Lieutenant Governor Fernando DeLeyba that the British and their Indian allies would try to capture the town so as to control the Mississippi River.
Two-page description [National Park Service - Lewis and Clark: Journey of Discovery]
1780 June: Spanish Admiral Don Solano arrived at Fort Royal, Martinique, with a fleet of 12 warships and transports carrying 10,500 soldiers and their supplies. The men were quite ill, so the fleet continued to Puerto Rico and then Havana without engaging the enemy. [Ref. Bonnel]
1780 July: John Adams moved to Holland to seek loans for the U.S. This took nearly two years to achieve -- see 1782 Apr.

Arrival at Newport RI

"First Anchorage"
by David R. Wagner
(used with the artist's permission)

1780 Jul 10: After 69 days crossing the Atlantic Rear Admiral Ternay's squadron and transports arrived at Newport RI. The troops began disembarking on the next day.
"Displaying the Ensigns of Harmony": The French Army in Newport, Rhode Island, 1780-1781 by T. Cole Jones [JSTOR article] in The New England Quarterly, Vol. 85, No. 3 (September 2012), pp. 430-467

General Rochambeau was the senior commander of the following land units:

  • Régiment de Bourbonnais, commanded by the Marquis de Laval de Montmorency. The second in command was Rochambeau's son, Donatien.

  • Régiment de Royal Deux Ponts (French for "Royal Regiment of Two Bridges"), commanded by the Comte Christian de Forbach.
    More about the Royal Deux Ponts Regiment

  • Régiment de Saintonge, commanded by the Comte de Custine.

  • Régiment de Soissonnais, commanded by the Comte de Saint Maisme. The second in command was Lafayette's brother-in-law.

  • Volontaires-Étrangers de Lauzun, also known as Lauzun's Legion -- a regiment of light infantry and hussar cavalry commanded by the duc de Lauzun.
    More about Lauzun's Legion

  • Régiment d'artillerie d'Auxonne under Goullet de La Tour was not the entire regiment -- only the second battalion, the engineers, and the artillery park. D'Aboville was in charge of Rochambeau's artillery, and he later commanded all the artillery at Yorktown.
For further information and the regimental flags see
French regiments in the EP [Expédition Particuliére]

About 6.200 officers and men (see table below) embarked along with some 400 servants. [Source: Private communication, Jacques de Trentinian, 2009]
Unit -----------Officers---Servants----Men&Ncos-----Total
Bourbonnais         63        70          842         975
R. Deux Ponts       76        66        1,016       1,158
Saintonge          103        79        1,147       1,329
Soissonnaise        61        67          919       1,047
Lauzun's Legion     61        40          648         749
TOTAL Troops       364       322        4,572       5,258

Unit -----------Officers---Servants----Men&Ncos-----Total
Artillery           46         50         386         482
Sappers             18         17          71         106
Engineers           16         13         223         252
TOTAL Auxiliaries   80         80         680         840 

Unit -----------Officers---Servants----Men&Ncos-----Total
Surgeons             2          7          --           9
Prevote&services    10          8          12          30
Vivriers            10          7          35          52
TOTAL Support       22         22          47          91 
GRAND TOTAL        466        424       5,299       6,189
Manning the eleven navy ships were the ship's officers and crew plus the marines in the ships' garrisons.
[* These numbers seem too small, and we need a list of the ships. *]
Unit -----------Officers---Servants----Men&Ncos-----Total
Garrison            21         --         781         802

This French squadron remained in the U.S. to support Rochambeau's expeditionary force, using Boston MA as its repair and resupply port. Two and a half years later (December of 1782) it departed from Boston MA carrying most of the remaining French Expeditionary Force to the Caribbean islands.

1780 Aug 09: While sailing off the Azore Islands a Spanish fleet commanded by Admiral Luis de Córdoba encountered a British convoy with 52 transports. They were carrying thousands of men and war materiel bound for (1) Jamaica and British islands in the Caribbean, (2) St. Helena Island (in the South Atlantic), and (3) Bombay and Madras, India. The French chased off the escorts -- a ship-of-the-line and two frigates -- and captured all of the transports. This denied significant reinforcements to British bases around the world.

1780 Dec 15: Rear Admiral Ternay died. He and was buried in the yard of Trinity Church in Newport RI. He was succeeded in command by Charles René Dominique Sochet, Chevalier Des Touches [also spelled Destouches]. His French navy rank was capitaine de vaisseau, but here we shall call him Rear Admiral Des Touches -- using the nearest modern equivalent U.S. rank.