Louis le Begue Duportail
The son of a nobleman and a member of the Engineering Corps of the French Army, Louis le Bègue Duportail was recruited to serve in the Continental army through the efforts of Benjamin Franklin. Arriving in America in 1777, he was named “Colonel in Chief of Engineers” and proved vital in surveying areas to gain knowledge on terrain and enemy movements, as well as in devising defenses that took these findings into consideration. He partook in the devastating Philadelphia Campaign, helped establish the winter encampment at Valley Forge, assisted Henry Knox in artillery instruction, planned and prepared the winter encampment at Morristown and overall became an integral cog in the Continental machine. He even directed work on the trenches at Yorktown, despite months spent as a prisoner of war after the fall of Charleston in 1780. Lafayette once called him “one of the best and most honest officers upon this continent.” He initially returned to France but returned to America in 1794.