The alphabetical list of the names of the “patriot” ancestors of the active members of the Rochambeau Chapter, as of July 1, 2013, is attached for information. (download)
FAMILY TREE: OUR FRENCH ANCESTORS
Many members of the Rochambeau Chapter are direct descendants of French patriots who actively fought for the cause of American Independence.
Many associate members of the Rochambeau Chapter, and other members of the NSDAR, have direct links with France and would like to know more about their French ancestors.
To support its members and associate members, the Rochambeau Chapter has prepared a short note with some practical advice about lineage research in France. (download).
Some ancestors from our French family tree are mentioned below :
Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, Maréchal de France
born: Vendôme, 1725 - died: Thoré (Loir-et-Cher), 1807
A descendant of an old family in the Vendôme area, Rochambeau entered the king's service at the age of 17 and took part in various military campaigns during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI.
During the War of Succession of Austria, which he ended with the rank of Colonel, he won distinction at the battle of Raucoux and Lawfeld (1747).
During the Seven Years War, he brilliantly commanded the Auvergne Regiment and won glory at the battle of Clostercamp (1760). Inspector General of the Cavalry in 1761, he was appointed Governor of Villefranche-en-Roussillon in 1776, then of Vendôme in 1779.
In 1780, Louis XVI promoted him to Lieutenant General and entrusted him with the command of 6,000 soldiers sent to North America to support the colonists in their revolt against England. With his calm demeanor, his military prowess and many other skills, Rochambeau admirably seconded Washington, thus contributing to the surrender at Yorktown in 1781.
Upon his return to France, he was made Chevalier du Saint Esprit (1783); then, Governor of Picardy (1784), and finally, Governor of Alsace (1789). Rallying to the French Revolution, he was placed at the head of the Army of the North (1790-1791), and was elevated to the title of Maréchal de France. Following a disagreement with Dumouriez, he resigned and retired to Vendôme. Arrested during the Terror, he was incarcerated in the Conciergerie and released after Thermidor.
The Maréchal de Rochambeau left us his Mémoires Historiques, militaires et politiques, published in 1809.
His personality and decisive role in the War of Independence inspired the French branch of the Daughters of the American Revolution to name their chapter in his honor.
- source: website of the Rochambeau Association
Charles-François, Comte de Broglie
born: Ruffec, 1719 - died: Saint-Jean-d'Angély, 1781
After a short military career, he was appointed France's ambassador to Poland and became, at the age of 35, head of Louis XV's secret intelligence. He led the King's secret service during the Seven Years War, and, even when exiled, continued to advise the King until 1774. He devised a plan to land in England in 1763. With his brother, Victor-François, Maréchal de France and with the support of enemies of the Minister Choiseul, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Broglie led a plot against the King's minister.
Broglie later fell out of favor when Louis XVI came to the throne: unlike his predecessor, Louis XV, the new king had no intention of maintaining a system of parallel diplomacy. He therefore dispatched Broglie to Metz to serve alongside his brother, Victor-François, in command since 1771.
Known as the King of Americans, Broglie took an interest in the early warning signs and development of the War of Independence, and organized the departure of the French volunteers to America.
He died in 1781, the year of the war's decisive turning point.
- source: text by Dominique Favreul, from historical sources
Gilbert Motier, Marquis de La Fayette
born: Chavaniac (Auvergne),1757 - died: Paris,1834
An officer of the Dragons of Noailles, he first learned about the revolt of the American insurgents in August 1775, during a dinner organized by the Comte de Broglie with the Duke of Gloucester, brother of the King of England. At the time, Louis XVI, King of France, secretly supported the insurgents. From then on, La Fayette dreamed of glory and a great military destiny for himself.
On December 7, 1776, he signed a secret agreement to defend the insurgents au nom d'une liberté que j'idolâtre (in the name of liberty that I worship). At the age of 19, he set sail on the ship La Victoire and arrived on June 13, 1777, in South Inlet near Georgetown, South Carolina. The American Congress finally accepted his command as Major General in the American army under the orders of George Washington.
La Fayette participated in the decisive battle of Yorktown (1781), alongside Washington and Rochambeau.
In 1824, when he was invited to return to the United States as the last surviving general from the War of Independence, he was given a hero's triumphant welcome all along his journey which lasted a year. He is one of a very few to have been proclaimed an honorary citizen of the United States.
- source: text by Dominique Favreul, from historical sources
Etienne Eustache Bruix
born: San Domingue 1759 – died: Paris, 1805
Etienne-Eustache de Bruix was born in Saint-Domingue on July 17, 1759. At a very young age, he joined the French Navy and was promoted to the rank of navy ensign when he was nineteen years old.
He is twenty-one years old when the Battle of Cheasapeake breaks out; placed under the orders of Admiral de Guichen, on la Boudeuse, he then joins Admiral Louis de Bougainville's ship, l'Auguste, in a squadron under the orders of French Rear Admiral François Joseph Paul, compte de Grasse.
After the war in America, Bruix, along with the geographer, Puységur, is assigned the task of re-mapping the island of Saint-Dominigue.
When the French Revolution breaks out, he is criticized because of his aristocratic origins and is relieved of his duties as an officer of the old regime; one year later, he is reappointed by Minister Truguet. The participation of Bruix in the Battle of Croix (1795) brings him in contact with General Lazarre Hoche and leads to his appointment at the Ministry of the Navy and the Colonies, during fourteen months, from April 1798 until June 1799.
In October, 1799, Napoléon returns from his campaign in Egypt ; Bruix is informed, in secret, of the coup d'état under preparation. After the coup d'état, Bruix is named an officer in the Navy and rises in rank. In 1801, he is named Admiral of the Naval Army. His health then starts to decline; his service is interrupted, in 1802, for this reason. Nevertheless, he is promoted to State Advisor the same year, then named Commander in Chief of the Boulogne Fleet, from July 15, 1803, until his death on April 4, 1805.
During the year and a half spent in Boulogne, Bruix challenges Napoleon on at least two occasions. When a storm is announced, the Admiral refuses to obey orders to organize a ship revue; the implacable Consul refuses to cancel the event and two hundred men are lost at sea.
Buix is promoted to the rank of Officer of the Empire on August 16, 1804, during the famous Legion of Honor ceremony held in Boulogne.
The last time he attends an historic public event is on the occasion of the coronation ceremony of the Emperor, in December, 1804. On February 2, 1805, as Inspector General of the Ocean Coasts, he is promoted to the rank of Grand Eagle of the Legion of Honor, then dies in Paris, at the age of forty-six. His grave in Père Lachaise cemetery is still visible today.
- source: by Constance de Monts de Savasse from historical sources