Indian Emissaries Meet with General Rochambeau at Newport, Rhode Island

Rochambeau receives 18 – 20 American Indians near the end of August 1780. They were mostly representatives of the Oneida and the Tuscarora tribes. French diarist, Verger, wrote: “The deputies of the Four Nations had come to make sure of our arrival and to offer us their alliance.” By tradition, the Iroquois Nation, to which these tribes belonged, favored the British during the American Revolution.

However, many of them had fought on their side of the French during the French and Indian War, only three decades earlier. The Iroquois Confederacy was composed of six nations: the Seneca, Cayuga, Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, and Tuscarora. These tribes formed an alliance for military and political reasons, with the Oneida and the Tuscarora openly siding with the British.

By the time Rochambeau arrived in Newport in mid August 1780, the Oneida and Tuscarora, breaking tradition, were eager to meet with the French general to determine where his interest stood and to confirm their allegiance to King Louis XVI Rochambeau received them with great pomp and circumstance offering them gifts with which they were well pleased. He regaled them with a military and then a naval drill that they enjoyed by all accounts.

Painting by David R. Wagner

Indian Emissaries Meet with General Rochambeau – Painting by David R. Wagner


(The above is excerpted from Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant)