Tuffin, Armand Charles, Marquis de La Rouërie

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Tuffin, Armand Charles, Marquis de La Rouërie

TUFFIN, ARMAND CHARLES, MARQUIS DE LA ROUËRIE. (1750–1793). French volunteer. Known in America as Colonel Armand, this wealthy nobleman was born at Fougères, France. Flag ensign in the French Guard in 1766, he was promoted to first ensign in 1771 and sous lieutenant on 9 April 1775. He seriously wounded the king's cousin, the comte de Bourbon-Besset, in a duel and was exiled from court. Toward the end of 1776 he sailed for America on the Morris. When three British warships pursued it into Chesapeake Bay, he and his companions defended themselves until forced to run the ship aground, abandon and destroy it, and escape overland on 11 April 1777.

On 10 May Robert Morris wrote a letter of introduction for Armand to Washington in which he stated that the Frenchman brought credit from "a Gentn to whom America is under the most important obligations." In fact, Congress's initial decision to appoint him a major was quickly modified on 10 May to the rank of colonel. Armand would become one of the few foreign officers who impressed Washington.

For what must have been their first action, at Short Hills on 26 June 1777, Armand's men fought against great odds; the unit lost thirty killed out of eighty engaged, and Armand saved a gun by his personal courage. He also exhibited great skill at Head of Elk; Brandywine; Whitemarsh; and, particularly, for his attack against Cornwallis's rear guard while serving as Lafayette's second in command in New Jersey. He was at Valley Forge and Monmouth and then engaged in partisan operations in Westchester County, New York, and Connecticut.

On 27 December 1777, Armand proposed creation of a partisan force, an idea that Lafayette supported in a deluge of letters. Washington at first strongly opposed the inclusion of British deserters, who he feared would be "debauching our own men" but later preferred it as a means of employing foreign officers. Congress eventually relented and on 25 June 1778 authorized a unit of Free and Independent Chasseurs.

Congress rejected Armand's request for promotion to brigadier general. When he then requested a leave of absence to return to France, Congress complied (probably to his surprise) on 5 February 1779 but commended him for his "disinterested zeal & services." He decided to delay his departure, and Congress complied by modifying the leave until the end of the next campaign.

On 18 January 1780 the Board of War supported Armand's promotion before Congress, but Washington opposed it as fomenting "jealousies and discontents" among the other officers. Armand requested his transfer to the Southern Department and the merger of his corps with Pulaski, which Washington endorsed on 6 February 1780. He joined de Kalb in North Carolina in July 1780, after the fall of Charleston. The next month Armand's troops were given an improper mission by Gates and performed poorly at Camden. On 21 October 1780 the old Pulaski Legion was redesignated Armand's Partisan Corps. Again in November 1780, Congress denied his request for promotion to Brigadier General. In February 1781 he received six months' leave to return to France to obtain clothing and equipment for his corps at his own expense, but he returned in time for the final operations in Virginia Some forty survivors of his unit joined Lafayette in May 1781 and fought at Green Spring on 6 July. On 13 February 1782 Washington sent Armand and his legion to South Carolina, where he remained until recalled to the main army in September. On 26 March 1783 he was appointed brigadier general and chief of cavalry. Having been highly commended by Congress for his war service, Armand was discharged on 25 November 1783. Washington glowingly detailed his record of service in a letter of 15 December 1783. When Armand petitioned Congress on 22 January 1784 for an advance, Congress responded by simply commending him on 27 February 1784 for his "bravery, activity and zeal." He embarked from Philadelphia for France on 18 May 1784 after severely criticizing the French minister, Barbé de Marbois. On 8 April 1784, Congress authorized the issuing of notes to pay Armand.

Armand received the cross of the Order of Saint Louis in 1781, but upon his return to France, he did not receive command of a regiment. Instead he was offered the rank of colonel and command of command of the cavalry battalion of Le Roussillon, which he refused. He joined a group of other Breton nobles who carried the complaints of those nobles to the king and who were imprisoned in the Bastille in July 1788 for their insolence. In 1791 he headed a secret organization stretching from Brittany through Anjou and Poitou to act with emigré armies. He died the night of 29-30 January 1793 at the Chateau of Guyomarais.

SEE ALSO Brandywine, Pennsylvania; Camden, South Carolina; De Kalb, Johann; Green Spring (Jamestown Ford, Virginia); Monmouth, New Jersey; Morris, Robert (1734–1806); Short Hills (Metuchen), New Jersey; Valley Forge Winter Quarters, Pennsylvania; Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania.


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Ford, Worthington C., ed. Journals of the Continental Congress. 39 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904–1933.

Mohrt, Michel. Tombeau de La Rouerie. Paris: Gallimard, 2002.

Smith, Paul H., ed. Letters of the Delegates to Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1976–2000.

Stutesman, John H. "Colonel Armand and Washington's Cavalry." New-York Historical Society Quarterly 45 (1961): 5-42.

Tuffin, Armand Charles, Marquis de La Rouërie. "Letters of Colonel Armand." New-York Historical Society Collections (1878): 287-396.

Washington, George. Writings of George Washington. Edited by John C. Fitzpatrick. 39 vols. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931–1944.

Whitridge, Arnold. "The Marquis de La Rouërie, Brigadier General in the Continental Army." Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 79 (1967): 47-63.

                         revised by Robert Rhodes Crout

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