Charles Armand, American Revolutionary War


Charles Armand was a French volunteer in the Continental Army. He rose to the rank of Brigadier General and helped capture Redoubt No. 10 at Yorktown.

General Charles Armand, American Revolution, Portrait, Peale

General Charles Armand, painted by Charles Willson Peale. Image Source: Wikimedia.

Charles Armand Biography

Charles Tuffin Armand, Marquis de la Rouerie (1750-1793), was a French volunteer in the Continental Army. He assumed the title of “Colonel Armand” during his service in America. He played a pivotal role in organizing and leading the 1st Partisan Corps, which fought with Casimir Pulaski’s Legion. Following Pulaski’s death, Armand assumed command of Pulaski’s Legion and it became known as Armand’s Legion. In 1783, Congress promoted Armand received to the rank of Brigadier General. Upon his return to France, he was involved in the French Revolution until he died in 1793.

Charles Armand Facts

  1. Charles-Armand Tuffin, Marquis de la Rouerie, was born in Brittany, France on January 1, 1750.
  2. In 1776, he sailed to America with a letter from Silas Deane, introducing him to Congress. 
  3. On May 10, 1777, he received a commission from Congress as a Colonel under the name Charles Armand.
  4. He achieved the rank of Brigadier General in the Continental Army.
  5. Armand died in France on January 30, 1793, at the age of 43.

Charles Armand and the American Revolutionary War

Charles-Armand Tuffin, Marquis de la Rouerie, was born into an aristocratic family in Brittany, France on January 1, 1750. During his youth, he was known for his became known for having a bold, impulsive personality. He joined the Garde du Corps in Paris when he was 10, as a flag ensign, beginning his military career. However, he was dismissed after he fought a duel with the nephew of King Louis XVI and seriously wounded him.

Armand Travels to America

Armand was inspired by the American Revolution and was introduced to Silas Deane, the American minister. In 1776, Deane gave him a letter of introduction and he sailed to America on the ship Morris.

On April 11, 1777, The Morris encountered three British warships in the Chesapeake Bay. Armand and his companions were able to escape from the British and then made the journey to Philadelphia to visit the Continental Congress.

In Philadelphia, he delivered important letters from France to Congress and offered his assistance to the Patriot Cause. On May 10, Congress gave him a commission with the name Charles Armand and the rank of Colonel. Robert Morris wrote a letter, introducing him to General George Washington. Armand left Philadelphia and went to join the Continental Army. Washington was impressed with him and authorized him to assemble and supply a troop of rangers at his own expense.

Armand’s First Action at the Battle of Short Hills

Armand led his rangers at the Battle of Short Hills in New Jersey on June 26, 1777. During the battle, he saved a cannon from being captured by British forces, but he lost 30 of the 80 men in his company. Afterward, he was appointed to the rank of Colonel and served under General Casimir Pulaski, who commanded the cavalry forces in the Continental Army.

Armand and the Philadelphia Campaign in 1777

During the Philadelphia Campaign in 1777, he fought at Head of Elk, Brandywine, Gloucester, and White Marsh. At Gloucester, he served as second-in-command to the Marquis de Lafayette to carry out a raid. Armand captured 60 Hessians in the action.

Lafayette, 1825,. Scheffer, NPG
Marquis de Lafayette, circa 1825. Image Source: National Portrait Gallery.

Armand at Valley Forge

Armand was at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777–1778. On December 17, 1777, he suggested the formation of a “partisan force” — militia — that included British deserters. Lafayette supported the plan, but Washington opposed the idea.

Armand’s Free and Independent Chasseurs

Prior to the Battle of Monmouth, Washington changed his mind and approved Armand’s plan. On June 25, 1778, Congress authorized him to organize the “Free and Independent Chasseurs” to carry out raids in and around New York City.

Armand requested a promotion to Brigadier General, which was rejected by Congress. He responded by requesting a leave of absence so he could return to France. Congress approved it but also commended him for his service. This caused Armand to delay his leave until after the next campaign.

Transfer to the Southern Department

On January 18, 1780, the Board of War supported a promotion for Armand. However, Washington opposed it because it might cause problems with the other officers. Armand responded by asking to be transferred to the Southern Department where he could join with General Pulaski. However, Pulaski was killed during the Siege of Savannah in October 1779.

Washington approved Armand’s transfer request on February 6, 1780.

Armand traveled south, joining with General Johann De Kalb in North Carolina in July. Meanwhile, British forces won the Siege of Charleston, forcing the surrender of General Benjamin Lincoln and the city. 

Congress responded by sending General Horatio Gates to take command of the Southern Army. 

Prior the the Battle of Camden (August 16, 1780), Armand and his men skirmishes with British cavalry led by Banastre Tarleton. During the battle, Armand and his men were held in reserve and witnessed the crushing defeat of the Continental Army. 

Armand’s Legion

On October 21, 1780, he was given command of the Pulaski Legion, merging it with his own. From that point on, the forces under his command were referred to as “Armand’s Partisan Corps” or “Armand’s Legion.”

In November 1780, Congress once again rejected his request for a promotion to the rank of Brigadier General. In February 1781, he was granted a six-month leave of absence to return to France. He intended to purchase supplies for his men and to pay for them out of his own pocket. While he was in France, the King pardoned him for his duel and other charges and admitted him into the prestigious Order of St. Louis

Armand and the Siege of Yorktown

Armand returned to America in time to participate in the Siege of Yorktown. In May 1781, joined Lafayette’s forces, along with about 40 survivors from Armand’s Legion. They fought at the Battle of Green Spring (July 6, 1781).

Due to the attrition of his own command, Armand offered his services to General Washington as an infantryman. Washington accepted and Armand joined Colonel Alexander Hamilton in the assault on Redoubt No. 10. Armand is believed to have been the first officer to breach the walls, helping force the British to surrender. 

Siege of Yorktown, Storming of Redoubt 10
This painting by Eugène Lami depicts American forces attacking Redoubt No. 10 at Yorktown. Image Source: Wikipedia.

General Washington officially commended Armand for his bravery. On February 13, 1782, Washington sent Armand and his Legion to South Carolina. He spent the final months of the war in Georgia and South Carolina, serving under General Nathanael Greene. Armand remained there until September when Washington recalled him to rejoin the main army.

Armand Promoted to Brigadier General

On March 26, 1783, Congress finally promoted Armand to the rank of Brigadier General and appointed him as the head of all Continental cavalry units. 

Armand Returns to France

On November 25, 1783, Armand was honorably discharged from his military service. In a letter dated December 15, 1783, General Washington praised Armand for his exceptional service. Armand set sail for France on May 18, 1784.

Armand returned to France as a celebrated war hero. However, France was on the brink of an upheaval, which he became involved in. He opposed some of the policies of King Louis XVI and spent a month imprisoned in the Bastille.

He died on January 30, 1793, apparently from a heart attack. He was 43 years old.

Armand’s Timeline in the American Revolutionary War

Armand participated in these events during the American Revolutionary War:

  1. New York and New Jersey Campaign (1776–1777)
  2. Battle of Short Hills (June 26, 1777)
  3. Battle of Brandywine (September 11, 1777)
  4. Battle of Gloucester (November 25, 1777)
  5. Battle of White Marsh (December 5–8, 1777)
  6. Battle of Monmouth (June 28, 1778)
  7. Battle of Green Spring (July 6, 1781)
  8. Siege of Yorktown (September 28–October 19, 1781)

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations, including APA Style, Chicago Style, and MLA Style.

  • Article Title Charles Armand, American Revolutionary War
  • Date 1750-1793
  • Author
  • Keywords Charles Armand, Armand's Legion, American Revolutionary War
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date April 19, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 23, 2023