Historian Robert Selig explores the dramatic life of Claude-Anne de Rouvroy, marquis de Saint-Simon-Montbléru, and his role in the Siege of Yorktown, which occurred 238 years ago this month. Though almost entirely forgotten in the United States, Saint-Simon commanded more than three thousand French troops at Yorktown and was the highest ranking officer wounded during the siege. Based on recently discovered primary sources—including the journal of Jean-Baptiste Gérard Dupleix de Cadignan, lieutenant colonel in the Agenois Regiment under Saint-Simon’s command, in the Institute’s collections—the talk will focus on the crucial role Saint-Simon’s forces played during the weeks prior to the arrival of the combined American-French army commanded by Generals Washington and Rochambeau on September 26, 1781, and the beginning of the siege of Yorktown two days later. This lecture coincides with the exhibition Revolutionary Reflections: French Memories of the War for America , which features a portrait of Saint-Simon by Vicente López y Portaña from the Institute’s collections and the general’s manuscript journal of his service in America generously lent by Comte Patrick de Rouvroy de Saint Simon.
The lecture will be approximately one hour.