also known as Lauzunís Legion.
It was commanded by Armand Louis de Gontaut, the Duc de
The legion first formed as the Volontaires Étrangers de la Marine
(Foreign Volunteers of the Navy) in 1778. This new corps was
formed for colonial service and the Marine was responsible for colonial operations.
By October 28th, 1778 part of this new Legion, commanded
by Lauzun, was on it's way to
Senegal in Northwest Africa to recapture France's slaving stations from
the British. By January 30, 1779 they reached
Fort St. Louis and after a brief operation the British surrendered.
Documents show that part of the Volontaires
Étrangers de la Marine were with d'Estaing at Savannah, Georgia in September 1779.
A 1779 edict amalgamated Lauzun's
corps with that of the Volontaires Étrangers de Nassau and late in 1780
the Legion was renamed Volontaires Étrangers de Lauzun
(the Foreign Volunteers of Lauzun). This new Legion was
composed of 5 companies of infantry consisting of 2 companies of Fusiliers, one
Grenadier, one Artillery and one Chasseur company; and two troops of hussars (cavalry), each
composed of one company of French hussars and one of Polish lancers.
The decision to send troops to America (Expedition Particuliere)
under the command of the Comte
de Rochambeau was made late 1779. Lauzun asked that he and his Legion
be part of this army which was agreed to by Rochambeau and on April 12, 1780 the troops
embarked at Brest but, as a result of bad weather, the convoy did not sail until May 2.
The fleet arrived on July 11th off the coast of Newport,
RI and, upon arrival, had to
purchase horses for the hussars and officers. During the remainder of
1780 and into 1781 the Legion was used as guards for protecting the wagons coming from
various ports bringing supplies and money to Rochambeau.
Later in July, Lauzun and his Legion were ordered
to reconnoiter the outlying areas of
New York and on July 21, accompanied by Americans under the command of General Lincoln,
were ordered to take Fort Knyphausen, near Morrisiana-Kingsbridge (now the Bronx).
The operation was unsuccessful, but the Legion distinguished itself providing rear-guard protection
for the retreating American troops.
The French army, shortly thereafter, began the long march
towards Yorktown, Virginia.
After a 400 mile march the Legion was ordered to Gloucester to prevent Cornwallis from using it
as a possible escape route and was augmented by the addition of sailors
and soldiers off the French ships blockading of the bay.
October 4th, a confrontation between Lauzun's Legion and
Tarleton's British Legion took place
with the Legion the winner. Yorktown surrended October 19, 1781 and Gloucester Point a few hours later.
The Legion remainded in American for two more years representing
until the Treaty of Paris was signed and American Independence assured.