Armand Louis de Gontaut
In his youth, the aristocratic Armand Louis de Gontaut — Duke de Lauzun — found satisfaction in adventure, much to the detriment of his fortune. But his military capabilities would serve him well, and by 1779, Gontaut was appointed to a command against the English, traveling to Senegal before being sent to aid Rochambeau in the American Revolution. As brigadier general and commander of Lauzun’s Legion, he arrived in Newport, Rhode Island, in July 1780, with approximately 600 hussars, grenadiers and chasseurs. Upon being ordered to act as the advance party of Rochambeau’s main French forces, Gontaut and his men left their winter encampment in Connecticut in June 1781 to march south along the current-day Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route. In doing so, they protected the Patriot flank against towns bristling with Tories, and ultimately reinforced General Washington at Yorktown. Along with the good news of Cornwallis’ surrender, Gontaut returned to France in November 1781. He would go on to become a fierce supporter of the French Revolution and victim of its guillotine.