Savior of the Revolution
Charles Lee Lewis
The average American knows little or nothing of the great service rendered by Admiral de Grasse to the cause of American Independence. The name of Lafayette is generally known and honored, and some even remember that Rochambeau commanded the French army which aided Washington. But the name of the commander of the French fleet which defeated a British fleet off the Virginia Capes and thus made possible the capture of Cornwallis at Yorktown is comparatively unknown. It is no exaggeration to state that, without De Grasse's timely assistance, all of the efforts of Washington, Lafayette, and Rochambeau would have been barren of decisive results in Virginia. . . .
News of the arrival of De Grasse in the Chesapeake reached Washington at Chester, Pennsylvania, on the 5th of September. "On my way (at Chester)," he recorded in his diary of that date, "received the agreeable news of the safe arrival of the Count De Grasse in the bay of Chesapeake with 28 sail of the line and four frigates, with 3,000 land Troops which were to be immediately debarked at James Town and form a junction with the American Army under the command of Marqs. de La Fayette. . . ."
Rochambeau arrived from Philadelphia at Chester soon after Washington received the good news. "We saw in the distance," wrote Rochambeau's aide Closen, " GeneralWashington shaking his hat and a white handerchief, and showing signs of great joy. Rochambeau had
From Admiral de Grasse and American Independence by Charles L. Lewis. Copyright © 1945, U. S. Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland. Reprinted by Arno Press in 1980.