Did you know that Rochambeau met Washington in Hartford, CT for the very first time?

The met at the home of Jeremiah Wadsworth, now the Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum.  Below is the plaque that tells the story.

The proper dates were:

  • Arrival on September 20, 1781
  • Departure on September 23, 1781.

The meetings resulted in a decision for Rochambeau and his men to stay put over the winter in Newport, RI and in Lebanon, Ct. Beyond that, Admiral de Ternay would seek more ships and Rochambeau would seek more men while the French remained on the defensive in Newport looking out for a possible British attack. Their next move would be centered around New York, the British head of operations in the North.

The plaque is attached to the exterior of the building, on the left side as you face the front entrance.

Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum plaque

HERE STOOD THE HOME OF COL. JEREMIAH WADSWORTH COMMISSARY GENERAL OF THE AMERICAN  FORCES IN THE WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE AND A TRUSTED FRIEND OF GEORGE WASHINGTON AND BROTHER JONATHAN TRUMBULL. HERE IN 1775 HE ENTERTAINED WASHINGTON ON HIS WAY TO CAMBRIDGE TO ASSUME COMMAND OF THE CONTINENTAL ARMY IN THE SOUTHWEST CHAMBER WASHINGTON MET THE FRENCH COMMANDER COUNT DE ROCHAMBEAU AND OTHERS IN MAY 1781 AND CONSIDERED THE PLAN OF THE YORKTOWN CAMPAIGN WHICH IN OCTOBER RESULTED IN THE FALL OF THE BRITISH POWER IN AMERICA. 
(Above is the photo of the Wadsworth plaque followed by a more legible version of the inscription.)
Photo by Heather D. Woodring
Advertisements

On This Date in History:

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.

This is the burial place of Admiral de Ternay at Trinity Church, Newport, R.I.

This is the burial place of Admiral de Ternay at Trinity Church, Newport, R.I.

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.”

A view of Trinity Church and Trinity Churchyard, where Ternay is buried.

A view of Trinity Church and Trinity Churchyard, where Ternay is buried.

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.