From Yorktown to Valmy: The Transformation of the French Army in An Age of Revolution

Synopsis

Based upon exhaustive research in archives in the United States and France, From Yorktown to Valmy provides a detailed study of some sixty-five hundred officers and soldiers of the French expeditionary corps that served under Rochambeau in the American Revolution. It traces their experiences in this country after their departure from France in the spring of 1780, their role in the victory over Cornwallis, their return to France and resumption of peacetime duties from 1783 to 1789, and their reactions to revolution in their own country and the war that followed.

The author's focus on these men and their regiments, the only substantial force of foreign allies ever to serve on American soil for an extended period of time, affords the opportunity to assess the impact of these momentous events upon the lives of rather ordinary people. In turn, their experiences also provide a remarkable means of evaluating -- in personal, concrete terms -- connections between the two great revolutions of the eighteenth century. Furthermore, since these soldiers constituted a representative cross-section of the French army during this critical period, their fate and the service of their units exemplify and elucidate the development of the entire French army during the most dramatic transformation in its history.

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