Expédition Particulière was the code name given to the French expeditionary army sent to help the American Revolution during 1780 to 1782. Its contribution was essential to the American-French allied victory at Yorktown in September 1781.
The French expedition was approximately 5,500 regular soldiers, equipped with the latest weapons and a product of the significant reforms undertaken following the French reverses in the Seven Years’ War (1756-63). The force consisted of the following regiments: Bourbonnais, Soissonais, Saintonge, Royal Deux-Ponts, Legion de Lauzun, and the Auxonne Artillerie.
When Expédition Particulière arrived at Newport, RI, in summer of 1780, the French were received at first with some trepidation by many of the American colonials. However, the expedition’s exceptional discipline and professionalism, as well as their colorful uniforms and regimental flags, quickly became popular.
In September 1781, the French, with Washington’s main army, conducted a swift strategic movement from the New York area to Virginia. There they were joined by other French expeditionay forces under the command of the marquis de Saint-Simon. The additional regiments were: Agenois, Touraine, Gâtinais, which had been off loaded from the ships of the French Admiral, comte de Grasse.
The overall commander of the French land army was Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807). He was undoubtedly the main reason for the great success of this force. He held the rank of lieutenant general and had many years of campaigning experience. His skillful leadership and professional wisdom were vital in advising General Washington and in guiding the ‘end-game’ strategy that implemented the Yorktown Campaign.