« The IRS Website Crashed Last Week, And They'll Probably Blame This On The Russians Too. -- by J | Main | "Scarier Than John Bolton?" by Phil Geraldi »

23 April 2018


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Most of those French regiments marched to Yorktown on foot from Newport Rhode Island. An American officer from Virginia is reported to have said the French were not the fops he had expected: "Finer troops I never saw."

General Rochambeau - George Washington's alter ego in the campaign - had been a field soldier for 40 years and had participated in 14 sieges.

In addition to those dead you listed, Admiral de Grasse lost 209 French sailors and marines off the coast of Cape Henry when he defeated the British fleet that had been sent to rescue Cornwallis.



Thanks for that.

You've had a number of interesting posts up, past several days.

1 July 2006, was the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Brit Op. entirely, commencing 7/1/1916.

Lost 2/3 as many killed in one day, as we lost in VietNam.

You have much more knowledge of the history of the French Army than I.

Seem to remember that the Armee de Afrique got more or less wiped out, in the Battle of the Frontiers, 9/1914, in about 5 days.

Dragging over from your Maudlin post:

"Know any good Moslem prayers? I wouldn't want to miss any bets."

Wouldn't want to know what happened to the poor bastards in WWII.

Yes. Prayers and Rememberance All Around.

W. Patrick Lang


It sounds like you know more than you admit.

Yes. The French used their regular forces from the North African Colonies heavily in WW1. They used these alongside the mass army of the "Armee Metropolitaine." They lost a lot of men then, at the beginning, when the French doctrine was to attack ferociously everywhere. There were both European and Muslim units among those brought over the Mediterranean. Goums from Morocco, Tirailleurs Algeriens,the Legion, Spahis, Zouaves (European). They kept enlisting men for these units throughout the war.

In WW2 the North Africans were not involved until the US/British capture of French North Africa and the creation of an anti-Vichy government that brought its forces into the war on the
Allied side. There was at least one Armee d'Afrique mountain infantry division in Italy under Alphonse Juin that fought well in the central mountain spine of Italy, at Cassino, for example. These were Muslims under French officers, mostly Goums (qawmi in Arabic) but some Algerians, among them Sgt. Ahmed Benbella.

In VN in '68 I was visiting the Headquarters of the US 1st Division at Chou Lai(?)and wandering across the central square of the old French post that we had taken over. There in the middle was an obelisk monument with the inscription "A la memoire des officiers et cavaliers de la -ieme Regiment des Spahis Marocaines. 1948-1954." It bummed me out. pl


Thank you for posting this Col., excellent, as usual. I am appalled and saddened at the ignorance of many of us who are not aware or even mildly interested in France's very real contribution in blood to our independence. And please pardon me for being off topic here - I recall hearing the reading of the names of the WWI German war dead from Alsace Lorraine. Many of those names were French and conversely I heard many German names that were fighting for the French.
Again, thank you.

William Gordon

Thanks for this reminder of what we owe the French! Do you have a count on how many troops and sailors they lost in the entire American Revolution?

Bill Gordon

W. Patrick Lang


No, but I would like to hear about it from someone. Incidentally, I have a beautiful set of seven lead soldiers with flags each of which is in the correct uniform and with the correct "color" (drappeau d'ordnance)of each of the "Yorktown" regiments.

A retired French Army friend made them for me as a gift all through one long winter at his retirement home on the Lot. pl

William E. Pollett

I am trying to find out information on my ansestor named Pollett who was a soldier in the French army that came to America to fight the British in our revolution. Do you know where I can find an english list of French soldiers who fought here.

Charles I

Happy July 4th, America, Pat & guests.

Even on a holiday, there's a history lesson. Merci beaucoup.

Sir(s), would most/all of these French soldiers been volunteers, conscripts, professional soldiers? Were these men representative of the French Army of the day in general or in some nature particular to service in America?.

I think I shall spend a bit of staring down the river time imagining the French Secret Service at work in Canada, an idea that never would have crossed my mind until today. . .

William R. Cumming

Wonderful post! So PL in your opinion is our (US) debt to France repaid by WWI and WWII?

Can debts of soldiers and sailors lives ever be repaid in full?

Patrick Lang

WRC It is sad that you see this as a transaction between France and the US.

As for the french troops, they were regular army soldiers, not conscripts. Their units were ordered to America under Rochambeau and so they came and fought for our independence. They were down around Williamsburg for about a year after Cornwallis surrendered. I understand that they cut a wide swath through the local ladies including the Black women against whom they were not prejudiced. pl


Appropos of nothing, Dominique Strauss-Kahn may not be a very nice man, and he may, in fact, not be innocent, but this post makes one feel a little creepy about the "perp walk," the headlines like, "Frog Legs It" and the apparent glee with which New Yorkers (and probably all of us) insulted the whole nation of France by proxy.

We owe them a debt, and as our host points out, these are not transactions that are simply wiped out by the actions of other brave men.

My dealings with the French Air Force did not leave me with these feelings of derision for all things French.

Thanks for the reminder.

William R. Cumming

Thanks PL for the reminder. Lives are not LIVRES!

patrick lang


A renewal of anti-French drivel caused me to re-post this. pl

The Twisted Genius

I've worked with the 2e REP. Anyone who spews anti-French drivel, especially concerning their military bravery and skills, doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground.

William R. Cumming

The various factors that played into the French Revolution
and some context for understanding that later revolution are nicely captured by historian Simon Schama [sic] and the involvement of the Marquis de Lafayette in both.

Dr. K

I remember the anti-French attitude during the run-up to the Iraq mistake. I said to myself don't people know that without the French the American revolution would have been lost or know the WW1 quote from I think, Gen. Pershing, "Lafayette. We have returned."

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

Thanks for this post. I spent a couple of days in Agen in October, as I have family there. The Regiment Agenais spent considerable time in North America during the 1700s since I'm pretty sure they were also here during the French and Indian War.


nick b

An interesting post. The makeup of the Regiment Saintonge sounds similar to the Pulaski Legion. I know they were a mix of Irish, French and Poles, (all Catholics, interesting).
Major Julius Count Mont-Ford, later a Major in Pulaski's Legion, was a French nobleman who previously served under General Wayne, and was wounded in the 'Paoli Massacre'. I only know this because I live so close to the site. Curious if the two regiments fought together?

David Habakkuk

In general, anti-Americanism is not one of my vices. But when in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq I read the drivel about ‘cheese eating surrender monkeys’ and ‘freedom fries’, I did have a bad fit of it.

I found myself thinking that perhaps Americans might be somewhat more understanding, if they had had to cope with having German armies – rather than Mexican or Canadian – on their borders. Of course, there are a rather small number of Americans – mostly Southern – who have some sense of the trauma which Verdun no doubt still means for many French families, as, in a lesser, but still terrible way, the Somme still means for many in Britain.

The devastation wrought the Civil War in the American South was, I have no doubt, much worse than that caused to France by the First World War. On the other hand, I do not think Americans have ever had to cope with the dilemmas caused by the possibility that a defeated adversary might – or might not – be capable of doing the same thing again.

Medicine Man


I still savor the brief conversation we had about a year ago regarding an acquaintance of mine who was prone to bashing on the French. "I'd respect them if they'd won a war since WWII", he'd say. Your response was piquant.

I second TTG's observation, not that he needs my backing; most of the people I hear bashing the French are armchair warriors of some type, coasting on unearned machismo. Strangely most of actual military men I've spoken to have a nuanced view of the French, whatever their feelings about them are.

William Fitzgerald

Pat Lang,

This is particularly interesting to me, since my late uncle was a platoon leader and company commander in the 755th Tank Battalion in Italy. During the Cassino campaign the battalion was often parceled out and attached to various divisions,including units of the French Army. He wound up with a couple of purple hearts, bronze star, Croix de guerre argent (for five awards) , and was made honorary corporal of the 3d Algerian Rifle Regiment. The French soldiers,particularly officers, used noms de guerre, Col. Bonjour for instance on operations orders and in communications as many had families in France. I'm pretty sure that there was a corps of, at least, two divisions, i.e. 3d Algerian and 2nd Morrocan.




That sounds like a project, ensuring that the French infantry who fell at Yorktown are suitably honored.

Remember the Washington-Rochambeau National Trail, the route that the French troops took marching fron Newport, RI to Willaimsburg. Also there is a prominent statue of General Comte de Rochambeau in Lafayette Park, just across from the White House.


"The devastation wrought the Civil War in the American South was, I have no doubt, much worse than that caused to France by the First World War."

Not so sure. There wasn't much left in eastern France. The ground in places like Versailles is still literally littered with explosives and can still not be cultivated in complete safety.

Wiki on unexploded ordnance in France and Belgium:

"In the Ardennes region of France, large-scale citizen evacuations were necessary during MEC removal operations in 2001. In the forests of Verdun French government "démineurs" working for the Département du Déminage still hunt for poisonous, volatile, and/or explosive munitions and recover about 900 tons every year. The most feared are corroded artillery shells containing chemical warfare agents such as mustard gas. French and Flemish farmers still find many UXOs when ploughing their fields, the so-called "iron harvest"."

"The Zone rouge (French for "Red Zone") is the name given to about 1,200 square kilometres (460 sq mi) of land in northeastern France that was physically and environmentally destroyed during the First World War. Because of hundreds of thousands of human and animal corpses and millions of unexploded ordnance that contaminated the land, some activities in the area such as housing, farming or forestry, were temporarily or permanently forbidden after the war by French law. Some towns were never permitted to be rebuilt.

Restrictions in the zone rouge still exist today although the controlled areas have been greatly reduced."

Whatever Sherman did on his march to the sea, I doubt it came close in the degree of devastation.





The American South was wrecked as a society and an economy and the demographic losses were very high but outside a few cities like Richmond, Atlanta, and Charleston the cities were largely habitable after the war. pl

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad