Timeline of World-Wide French Involvement in the American War for Independence
Dec 1775 French secret envoy meets with American ‘Secret Committee of Correspondence’ in Philadelphia to determine patriots’ intention and needs.
Apr 1776, Silas Deane sent to Paris to obtain military supplies and skilled military engineers for the Continental Army.
Apr 1776, King Louis XVI decides to assist American rebellion and launches vast French navy refitting.
Jun 1776, Hortalez Cie. received million livres from French Covernment, and another million from Spain, via the French Minister.
Feb, Duportail, one of the first of many French volunteers, joined the Continental Army. He became the ‘Father of the American Army Corps of Engineers’.
By Sep. 1777, Hortalez Cie. (Beaumarchais) already shipped 5 million livres worth of cargo to America.
6 Feb, French-American alliance treaty signed in Paris.
4 May, French treaty recognizing American independence ratified by US Congress.
17 Jun, first naval engagement of the war between French and British.
11 Jul-31 Aug, d’Estaing’s unsuccessful naval operations at New York and at Newport.
27 Jun, naval battle off Ile d’Ouessant [Ushant] — indecisive engagement between Fr. and Br. (La Manche) proves new French Royal navy capacity to challenge the British navy.
7 Sep, Fr. capture Dominica (WI).
14 Sep, Br. capture St. Pierre-et-Miquelon Ils. (N. Atlantic).
1 Oct, Br. capture Pondichery (India).
13 Dec, Br. capture St. Lucia (WI).
Capture of Savannah (December 28) British successfully launch their southern strategy
January, Fr. capture St. Louis (Senegal). [Lauzun and Vaudreuil’s expedition had departed France in December 1778]
1 May, Fr. unsuccessful raid on Jersey Ils. (La Manche).
18 Jun, Fr. capture St. Vincent (WI).
4 Jul, Fr. capture Grenada (WI).
23 Sep-20 Oct, d’Estaing and Americans unsuccessful siege of Savannah (GA).
23 Sep, Fr. troops at naval battle of Flambourgh Head (La Manche) — (Bonhomme Richard vs HMS Serapis).
21 Feb-12 May, Fr. military engineers at unsuccessful defense of Charleston (SC).
17 Apr, 15 & 19 May, Br. and Fr. engage in naval battles off Martinique (WI).
April 8 – Siege of Charleston: British Army troops under General Henry Clinton and naval forces under Admiral Mariot Arbuthnot besiege Charleston, South Carolina. British ships sail past Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island to occupy Charleston Harbor. Washington will order reinforcements to Charleston, but the city falls on May 12 in what is arguably the worst American defeat of the war.
May 6 – Siege of Charleston: Fort Moultrie falls to the British.
May 12 – Siege of Charleston: American General Benjamin Lincoln surrenders Charleston to the British. The British lose 255 men while capturing a large American garrison.
11 Jul, Rochambeau’s corps arrived at Newport (RI).
5 Jan, Fr. unsuccessful raind on Jersey Ils. (La Manche).[During the year, British capture Dutch possessions in WI, South America, Ceylon and India.]
16 Mar, Br. & Fr. naval battle of the Chesapeake Bay (1st ‘Battle of the Virginia Capes’).
16 May, Br & Fr. naval battle of Porto Praya, Cape Verde islands.
10-12 May, Fr. raid on St. Lucia (WI).
26 May, Spanish and Fr. capture Pensacola (Flordia).
4 Jun, Fr. capture Tobago (WI).
12 Jul, Fr. raid Tory fort at Loyd Neck, Long Island (NY).
5 Sep, Br. & Fr. naval battle off the Chesapeake Bay (2nd ‘Battle of the Virginia Capes’). September 5 – Battle of the Chesapeake
28 Sep-19 Oct, Am. & Fr. siege of Yorktown (VA).
October 19 – The British surrender at Yorktown
26 Nov, Fr. capture St. Eustatius (WI).
6 Jan-5 Feb, Fr. & Sp. capture Ft. St. Philip at Mahon, Minorca.
22 Jan, Fr recapture Dutch colonies of Surinam.
13 Feb, Fr. capture St. Kitts (WI).
18 Feb. Br. & Fr. naval battle off Madras (India).
20 Feb, Fr. capture Nevis (WI).
22 Feb, Fr. capture Monserrat (WI).
February 27 – The British House of Commons votes against further war, informally recognizing American independence.
12 Apr, at Saintes (WI), Br. disperse large Fr. naval force enroute to attack Jamaica.
6 Jul, Br. & Fr. naval battle off Negapatan (India).
Jul through Mar, Sp. & Fr. unsuccessful siege and blockade of Gibraltar.
25-30 Aug, Fr. besiege and capture Trincomalee (Ceylon).
8-31 Aug, Fr. capture and destroy Fort Prince of Wales, York factory and Severn in Hudson Bay (Canada).
December 14 – British evacuate Charleston, South Carolina
Mar-Jul, Fr. participate in capture of Voloze, Bednor
(3 May); Onor, siete of Mangalore from 6 May to Jul (India).
20 Jun, Br. & Fr. naval battle off Cuddelore (India).
13-29 Jun, Fr. repulse Br. at Cuddelore (India).
3 Sep, Peace Treaty signed in Paris. September 3 – The Treaty of Paris (1783) ends the American Revolutionary War
November 25 – The British evacuate New York, marking the end of British rule, and General George Washington triumphantly returns with the Continental Army.
January 14 – The Treaty of Paris is ratified by the Congress.
April 9 – The Treaty of Paris is ratified by the British
May 12 – Ratified treaties are exchanged in Paris between the two nations.
1798–1800: Quasi-War: an undeclared naval war with France over American default on its war debt. An additional mitigating factor was the continuation of American trade with Britain, with whom their former French allies were at war. This contest included land actions, such as that in the Dominican Republic city of Puerto Plata, where U.S. Marines captured a French vessel under the guns of the forts. Congress authorized military action through a series of statutes.
1799–1800: Fries’ Rebellion: a string of protests against the enactment of new real estate taxes to pay for the Quasi-War. Hostilities were concentrated in the communities of the Pennsylvania Dutch.
This chart emphasizes French military and naval operations during the War for American Independence. Significant number of additional actions were undertaken by Spanish and Dutch forces against the British. Material in this chart was taken mainly from The American Revolution, A Global War by R.E. Dupuy, G. Hammerman, and G. Hayes (1977); and The French Army in the American War of Independence by René Chartrand (1991).