On this day in history, December 15, 1780, Charles-Louis d’Arsac, Chevalier de Ternay passed away in Newport, Rhode Island. He commanded the fleet of French ships that carried General Rochambeau ;and his army of 5,500 soldiers to America. Admiral de Ternay had been ill on the crossing, but managed to muster to the occasion even so far as to accompany Rochambeau and his aids to the first meeting with George Washington. This meeting was held in Hartford, CT in September, 1780.
Below is an excerpt account of Admiral de Ternay death as found in my book: Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant, A French General’s Role in the American Revolution.
“Admiral de Ternay remained ill after returning from the Hartford Conference, but Rochambeau did not notice that he was any worse and was not alarmed when, in December, Ternay was confined by a fever. Washington received “the afflicting intelligence of the death of the Chevalier de Ternay. The French corps will do him the justice to say that it was impossible to conduct a convoy to its destination with greater skill and vigilance than he did the one confided to his charge.”56
French Commissary Claude Blanchard commented, “On the 14th [of December 1780], [t]he cold was very severe. M. the Chevalier de Ternay…had been sick for several days and had just been taken on shore. M. Corte, our chief physician, had been sent for, who told us that he found him very ill.”57 He fell victim to his disease; they said it was a putrid fever. He died December 15, 1780, at the Hunter House, 54 Washington Street in Newport, and was buried the next day in the Trinity churchyard “on the 16th in fine weather with great pomp. All the land forces were under arms.”
To learn more about the bizarre circumstances of the funeral and burial of the French Admiral, read the detailed description of how the Newporters accommodated his religious preferences in my book mentioned above.