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

By Samuel F. Scott | Go to book overview

6

THE LONG JOURNEY HOME

ALTHOUGH STILL GRAVELY CONCERNED about the situation in which his command found itself and bitterly frustrated by the lack of direction from his government, once Rochambeau made the decision to leave Virginia he pressed forward with his plans. There were the usual logistical problems and complications, but by the end of June 1782 the preparations were complete, and farewells were exchanged during the last week of that month. The General Assembly of Virginia formally noted its gratitude for the good relations between the French troops and the “Citizens of this Commonwealth” and expressed regret at the former's coming departure. 1 The mayor, recorder, aldermen, and Common Council of Williamsburg paid tribute to the military protection, good conduct, and “social, polite, and very friendly intercourse” afforded by the French. The president and professors of the “University of William and Mary” expressed similar sentiments, especially recognizing Rochambeau's generosity in replacing a building destroyed by fire and the contributions of some of his officers to “science as well as liberty.” 2

As had been the case throughout the French stay in the United States, the experience of Lauzun's Legion was somewhat different from that of the rest of the French forces. In February 1782 the unit had been dispatched to Charlotte Courthouse, where it again became a focus of controversy. In addition to civilian complaints (discussed in chapter 5), General Greene frequently complained about the military disposition and inadequate strength of this detachment during spring 1782. 3 Despite these problems, however, when the legion was ready to depart in June, local authorities

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