Washington’s French Volunteers

Besides La Fayette, writes Arnold Whitridge, many French volunteers joined the American forces to fight for a freedom they had not yet won in France.

Of all those who crossed the seas two hundred years ago to fight for American Independence the best known is, of course, La Fayette. So completely did this young aristocrat capture the imagination of the American people that he has become the symbol of all that was idealistic in the American Revolution.

Foreign travellers have observed that, among the Americans themselves, La Fayette was second only to Washington as the most popular figure in the nation. Every detail of his life in America has been carefully chronicled. This is just as La Fayette would have liked it. No one was more aware of the value of publicity.

But there were more than a hundred volunteers who came over to fight for freedom besides La Fayette, men who were just as devoted to the cause of liberty, but not so concerned with the verdict of posterity. Some of them gave their lives for the cause, including Pulaski, the Polish cavalryman who was killed at Savannah, and Baron de Kalb, the Bavarian peasant who fell mortally wounded at Camden.

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