Role of the french in the american revolutionary war

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Created by Boomer Meyer

November 29, 2004

The flag that was adopted in honor of the American-French Alliance

In 1781 and 1782, in honor of the end of the American Revolutionary War and the help of France in that conflict, a special U.S. Flag appeared

Battle of Monmouth

The last conflict involving the regular British Army and George Washington’s Continental Army and its French allies during the American Revolution. After this battle the secondary forces of the militaries clashed as the war shifted to the southern colonies. battles/bat_monm.asp

I. Lesson Idea
The people and resources of the French government during the American Revolutionary War were both important and crucial to the victory of the American Colonies.

II. Index

  • Military-What the French brought to the table

    • Numbers

    • Leadership

    • Resources

  • Bankruptcy of French Government

  • Trip/Follow-Up

  • What to look for in “Glorious Lessons”

  • Mini-Games

  • Educational Projects/Regents Tie-In

    • Bibliography/Sources Cited

III. Military

The French Military had a major role in the struggle for independence in what is now the United States of America. By contributing masses of their own soldiers and other valuable resources, they helped to ensure that the War would be won by the Revolutionaries.

  • General George Washington’s Continental Army was for the most part French during various battles throughout the American Revolution-“the majority of George Washington's 15,000 man Continental Army were French soldiers.”


  • The French had more than a few brilliant leaders during the American Revolution

    • Louis Antoine de Bougainville- Captain of a ship called the Guerrier. This ship along with a small fleet of other French ships hounded and harassed the British fleet of Howe.

    • Thomas Conway- was appointed a brigadier general and given command of a brigade in Sullivan's Division which fought at Brandywine and Germantown.

    • Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur/Count de Rochambeau- a major in the French military, until the American Revolution when he was made a lieutenant-general and placed in command of a body of troops which numbered some 6000 men.

    • Marquis de Cote/Lafayette-perhaps one of the most important men during the Revolution. Lafayette was General Washington’s right hand man as well as a close personal friend. During the revolution, Lafayette fought in the battles of Brandywine, Gloucester, Barren Hill, Monmouth and Yorktown. He was given command of several divisions of Virginia's military. When America was in need of help, Lafayette skillfully solicited funds, soldiers, and ships from the King of France.

  • Resources

    • With a army and navy second only to Britain, and a large supply of arms, ammunition, and gold the French were an amazing ally during the American Revolution

      • Army – rather than a group of militias brought together for a common cause the French had an established military machine. sr/uniforms/frmaa1.htm

The French army was made up of infantry, and Calvary, much like many other armies of the day.

  • Navy- the French Navy was the most important aspect of the help for the Colonies. The ships provided transportation for both French and American forces up and down the eastern coast. The British fleets were constantly harassed by French ships. The navy played a major role in the eventual near-end of the war by cutting off British soldiers from General Cornwallis in Yorktown.

  • Arms- the French musket the Charleville, supplied to the Americans, was .69 caliber and fired a .65 caliber ball. They were long barreled about 42 inches and could mount a long triangular shaped bayonet on the barrel. Also the Model 1776 Musket was used by the Americans and French. The French provided a hundred thousand muskets and bayonets during the war. The French also provided money and uniforms for the Continental Army.

  • Pistols- pistols like the Model 1777 Calvary Pistol and the Calvary Pistol Model 1763/1766 were also used by the alliance. Both fired a .67 caliber round.

IV.After Effects of French Involvement in American Revolution

  • Bankruptcy of the French Government

  • The amount of funding the French Government decided to give the American Revolutionaries eventually led to the financial collapse of the government of France. This collapse led to King Louis XVI becoming bankrupt himself, a rather large determining factor in the need for a revolution in France.

V. Trip/Follow Up

    • What to Look for during the Glorious Lessons Exhibit

  • #49 Charleville Musket

  • #50 Model 1776 Musket

  • #73 Calvary Pistol Model 1777, 1781

  • #74 Calvary Pistol Model 1763/1766

  • # 100 Gridiron

  • #165-168 Lafayette-Autograph Letter

  • Teach students about importance of muskets and tactics during that time. Show Linear Tactics by lining the students on opposite sides of the room and show volley fire by throwing crumpled pieces of paper. Show once individual fire, and then volley fire.

To compensate for inaccurate shooting, the men fired volleys, sending a mass of balls toward the enemy, some of which should hit. In order to fire volleys in unison, they formed into units of two or three ranks (lines) deep, shoulder to shoulder. The unit would operate like a machine, lead by an officer (assisted by his non -coms), who would give the orders to load, fire and maneuver. Units could turn their lines, form into columns or squares, advance or turn about at the direction of their officers. Early in the war, the Americans did not have a universal system. Each state or even regiment had their own, making command by generals harder. The Americans also did not practice large unit -Brigade or larger- drills early in the war. The tactics of the day called for each unit to form next to its neighbor, forming a line across the battlefield. (Not necessarily a straight line or an unbroken one.) They would both defend and attack in these formations, which gave them the name of linear tactics. The tactics were not designed to shoot down the enemy until he gave way, but to break up his organized lines so that your side could then march forward, in cohesive, organized and linear fashion, and charge with the bayonet. A disorganized unit can not stand against an organized bayonet charge. Each unit tried to break the unity of the enemy formation so it could charge with the bayonet. Charged units, if not able to organize themselves, would give way if possible- or die spitted

  • Educational Projects/Regents Tie-In

  • A short paper on what the student feels is the most important contribution of the French

  • A quiz on the French leaders of the American Revolution

  • Discuss the importance of the French navy in holding down Cornwallis and his men during the siege of Yorktown

  • To help in the Regents test discuss how the contributions helped enable the American colonists to create their own constitution

Sources Cited
GLORIOUS LESSONS: THE IDEA OF AMERICA” St. Bonaventure University & Affiliates, September 24, 2004-March 20, 2005, Quick Arts Center, E. Wayne Carp
Pacific Lutheran University “Wars of the American Revolution”

Encyclopedia Online, Dave Martucci, 14 July 1998 “French Alliance” sr/uniforms/frmaa1.htm, American Revolutionary Artistic Association, May 14, 2002 , Glenn Valis, “Tactics and Weapons of the Revolutionary War” 3/31/02

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