1782: Global Naval Warfare 

Latest Changes: 2013-02-08: fix French ranks / 2013-03-21: go to timeline format / 2013-04-26: add Preliminaries of Peace /

Color Codes for the
French Naval Commanders
Cordova, D'Orvilliers, du Chauffault
de Guichen, Monteil
Ternay, Des Touches, Barras
de Grasse, Vaudreuil
d'Estienne-d'Orves, Suffren

Events in 1782 

After the British surrender at Yorktown VA there was relatively little military activity in the U.S., but armed conflict continued outside of the U.S. theater as the naval and land forces of France and Spain forces engaged in many battles with British forces all around the globe. This prevented any reinforcement of British forces in the United States to aid in expanding their fortified enclaves here.
See After Yorktown [Expédition Particulière]

The British continued to hold the ports of New York NY, Charleston SC, and Savannah GA, and the U.S. sought to eject them so that these cities could not be used as bargaining chips in the peace negotiations, possibly allowing Britain to be granted control of some of the rebelling colonies.

The French war leaders were eager to redeploy Rochambeau's army to fight the British for islands in the Caribbean, and the troops could have sailed there directly from Yorktown. So why did the French army stay in Virginia during the winter of 1781-82 and then march north?

One reason is that their presence in Virginia discouraged further British raids in that state. Hans de Pold (Bolton CT Town Historian) further notes that

As peace negotiations got underway in Paris in the spring of 1782 the French troops that remained in the U.S. marched north to force the British into consolidating their forces in New York City (rather than raiding other U.S. ports) and to speed up the signing of the peace treaty. The contemporary documentation for this is General Washington's response to a report that General Rochambeau sent from Bolton, Connecticut as the French troops marched north to Boston. [Ref. "Bolton Historic Tales," by Hans de Pold (History Press, 2008)]

1782 Jan 06 - Feb 5: French and Spanish forces under Lieutenant général des armées navales de Guichen capture Ft. St. Philip at Mahon, Minorca (in the Mediterraneam Sea).
1782 Feb 14: Lieutenant général des armées navales de Grasse's forces capture St. Christophe (St. Kitts) (West Indies) from the British.
1782 Feb - Sept: A French fleet under the command of Adm. Pierre Andre de Suffren de Saint-Tropez (also known as Bailli de Suffern) engaged the British fleet under Vice-Adm. Edward Hughes in the battle of Sadras in the Indian Ocean off Madras (India). See below for three others in 1782.
Suffren's East India Campaign (1782-1783) [McJoynt] describes these battles in the Indian theater of war.
1782 Feb 20: The French captured Nevis (West Indies) from the British.
1782 Feb 22: The French captured Monserrat (West Indies) from the British.

1782 Apr 19: John Adams secured from Holland diplomatic recognition for the U.S., then a loan, and finally a Treaty of Amity and Commerce (Oct.). He then joined the four other U.S. peace commissioners in Paris to conclude the peace negotiations with Great Britain.
1782 Apr 12: In the battle at Saints (West Indies) much of the French fleet under Admiral de Grasse was destroyed by a British squadron under Admiral Rodney. De Grasse was captured and brought to England, where King George III graciously returned de Grasse's sword. de Grasse worked with British Foreign Secretary Shelburn on the draft of a peace treaty and was freed in August 1782 to the French court as Ambassadeur Extraordinaire for the King of England.

1782 July - Admiral Vandreuil gathered the remnants of the French fleet in the Caribbean and took a large group of ships north to Boston to get wood for masts and other repairs.

1782 Apr 12: French Adm. Suffren's fleet fought British Vice-Adm. Hughes' fleet in the battle of Providien (India)

1782 Jul 1 -   The French army left their winter camps in Virginia and marched north. They traveled in two divisions of about 2,500 men each, spaced a day apart so as to reduce the burden on the campsites and on local provisioners.

1782 July 11:  Evacuation of Savannah GA by British forces due to continued pressure on that garrison by Gen. Anthony Wayne and the Southern Continental Army, as well as the state militia.
See The British Evacuate Savannah, Georgia , by Gordon B. Smith (Georgia Society SAR) on the Sons of Liberty SAR Website

1782 Jul 06: French Adm. Suffren's fleet fought British Vice-Adm. Hughes' fleet off Negapatan (India).
1782 Jul through 1783 Mar: Spanish and French under Lieutenant général des armées navales de Guichen besieged and blockaded British-held Gibraltar ( which dominates the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea) but failed to keep British Adm. Howe from breaking the blockade and relieving the fortress.
1782 Jul 19 - The French troops entered MD, and on July 24 they arrived in Baltimore, where they rested for a month. At the end of Aug 1782, the siege artillery was transferred by ship from West Point VA to Baltimore under the protection of La Villesbrunne's squadron.
1782 Aug 25-30: Adm. Suffren's fleet besieged and captured Trincomalee (Ceylon). After four major battles neither fleet had captured a single ship of the opposition. On Oct 15 the French fleet left for a brief stay in Sumatra.
1782 Aug: Adm. Vaudreuil's fleet arrived at Boston to bring naval help for the French and American allied armies, as well as to find wood for his masts. He sent La Prouse (with Le Sceptre, L'Engageante, L'Astre) to Hudson's Bay (in Canada), where they captured and destroyed the British establishments of Fort Prince of Wales, York Factory, and Severn.
1782 Aug 29 - Continuing on the same route as on the march south the French troops entered Delaware on Aug 29, Pennsylvania on Aug 30, New Jersey on Sept 2, and New York on Sept 13.

1782 Sept 17 they French troops arrived at Peekskill NY and stayed for a month at Yorktown Heights, after which most of the French Army went east to Boston (see below), while Lauzun's Legion was sent to garrison Wilmington DE for the next six months.

1782 Oct 23 - The main French Army marched into Connecticut. They stayed for a week in the camp at Hartford CT.

The presence of the French troops near New Yorik hastened the withdrawal of British forces from the southern port cities that they occupied. Hans de Pold (Bolton CT Town Historian) further notes that

In November 1782, Yale president Ezra Stiles visited with General Rochambeau at the home of Reverend George Colton in Bolton, CT. Stiles records in his diary that he, Reverend Colton, and General Rochambeau conversed that evening in Latin. At that time, Latin was still an international language spoken by all European clergy, officers, diplomats, scientists and other educated people.

General Rochambeau's memoirs confirm that he spent November 2, 1782, at the home of Reverend Colton and that here he completed one of his report packets on the French military campaign in America and posted that packet from Bolton to General George Washington.

General Washington's answer to Rochambeau's Bolton letter notes that the reason for the French marching north (as well as the earlier march south) on the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route (now a National Historic Trail) was to threaten the British army that still occupied New York City. The hope was that the British would withdraw all their troops from the southern cities -- Charleston SC, Savannah GA) to reinforce their army in New York City and then finally leave the colonies.

1782 Nov 09: The French troops entered RI and on Nov 10 reached Providence RI, where they had a three week rest. One company from each of the four regiments boarded a ship (destination??). Gen. Rochambeau left his troops at this time and traveled south to Annapolis MD by way of Newburgh NY (to see General Washington) and Philadelphia PA (to visit the French Ambassador and the Continental Congress).

1782 Nov 23: The Selectmen of Boston MA approved finding quarters in that city for 1,000 French troops.

1782 Nov 30: In Paris, France, the representatives of Great Britain and the United States approved the "Preliminaries of Peace". This required ratification by the two governments, which took several months more, due to the long sea voyages required to get the information to the North America and back to Paris. Also, France and Spain had not yet reached this point in their negotiations with Great Britain, so battles continues around the globe. See 1783 Jan 20 for later developments.

NOTE: These W3R® campsite-and-trail maps were developed
during the 2000-2005 National Park Service study of significance,
feasibility, and environmental impact.
The orientation is tilted; north is about 45-degrees left of straight up.

. .
The Massachusetts portion of the W3R® campsite map.
Dates shown are for the return trip north in 1782.

A Note about "Official" W3R® Routes

1782 Dec 1 - The French troops camped at Wrentham MA, and on Dec 2-4 they camped at Dedham MA. Massachusetts offered to quarter 1,000 soldiers in private homes, but the French required quarters for four regiments and the campaign artillery (a re-inforced second battalion of the Auxone), so they marched directly onto Vaudreuil's troop transports in Boston harbor. By Dec 7 all but the officers were aboard. Some officers stayed in Boston homes, and the people of Boston enjoyed many celebrations with them.

1782 Dec 14:  Evacuation of Charleston SC by British forces due to continued pressure on that garrison by Gen. Nathaniel Greene and the Southern Continental Army, as well as the state militia.

1782 Dec 20: In Boston all French officers were ordered onto Vandreuil's troopships, and on Dec 23 the ships left Boston, bound for the Caribbean in preparation for an attack on British-held Jamaica.
1782 Dec 28: After several days delayed by fog, Adm. Vaudreuil's fleet departed from Boston Harbor, carrying most of Rochambeau's Expeditionary Force [except for Lauzun's Legion] to the West Indies (Porto Caballo), as part of a renewed operation against Jamaica. However, news of the Preliminary Articles of Peace arrived on 1783 March 24, so the plan was aborted. The troops finally arrived back in France in late June 1784, after four years in the U.S.

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