Cover of Liberty-Loving Lafayette, coming May 1, 2020
(Based on Lafayette’s Baptism of Fire by E. Percy Moran, 1909)
(If the text below is jumbled on your device, you may download a pdf of this timeline here.)
September 6, 1757 Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, born in Chavaniac, France
August 1, 1759 Father dies in battle in Minton, Germany, during Seven Years War with England
November 2, 1759 Adrienne de Noailles, later Lafayette’s wife, born in Paris
September, 1768 Begins school at age 11 at the College of Plessis in Paris
April 3, 1770 Mother dies
April 24, 1770 Maternal grandfather dies, leaving his estate to Lafayette, who, after inheriting from an uncle soon after, becomes one of the richest men in France
April 9, 1771 Receives appointment to serve in the King’s Musketeers; begins his military education at the Military Academy at Versailles.
May, 1771 Commissioned as an officer in the Musketeers, with mostly ceremonial duties
April, 1773 With help from his future father-in-law becomes Brevet Lieutenant in the prestigious Noailles Regiment
April 11, 1774 Married at age 16 to Adrienne de Noailles, aged 14
August 8, 1775 Dined in Metz, France, with the King George III’s younger brother, the Duke of Gloucester, who told him about America’s struggle for independence which enlisted his heart in that cause
December, 1775 Daughter Henriette born
Summer or fall, 1776 Sent to England by father-in-law, whose brother was the French ambassador there; meets George III and General Clinton, then returns to France
November, 1776 Is introduced to American agent Silas Deane, by Baron de Kalb
December 7, 1776 Accepts commission as American Major General from Silas Deane, subsequently buys his own ship and calls it La Victoire.
April 20, 1777 Avoids arrest by escaping across the Spanish border and setting sail for America
June 13, 1777 Lands in America near Georgetown, SC
July 31, 1777 Arrives in Philadelphia, receives unenthusiastic reception from Congress, meets General George Washington
August 10, 1777 Becomes an aide-de-camp for Washington, but given no command
September 11, 1777 Fights bravely in the Battle of Brandywine, wounded in his left leg, is taken to Moravian Hospital in Bethlehem, PA, to recover
October 3, 1777 His daughter, Henriette, dies
November, 1777 Rejoins Washington
November 24, 1777 Sent by General Greene with 400 men to reconnoiter Howe’s movements, successfully attacks Hessians near Gloucester, New Jersey
December 19, 1777 Marches into Valley Forge with Washington and 12,000 troops
November, 1777 Conway Cabal discovered
February 6, 1778 Treaty of alliance between America and France signed in Paris
February 17, 1778 Sent to invade Canada, arrives at Albany, sees lack of troops, aborts mission
March, 1778 Convinces the Oneida to support the Americans; recruits Oneida warriors and sends them to Valley Forge
April, 1778 Returns to Valley Forge
May 1, 1778 Washington gets word of the Treat of Alliance, at about the same time, Lafayette
Learns of the death of his daughter, Henriette
May 4, 1778 The Treaty of Alliance with France ratified by Congress.
Early May, 1778 French Alliance announced at Valley Forge
May 18, 1778 Leads 2200 troops to Barren Hill to scout British in Philadelphia
May 20, 1778 Escapes from 16,000 British troops at Barren Hill, PA
June 18, 1778 British leave Philadelphia for New York
June 28, 1778 Fights bravely at the battle of Monmouth Court House, Monmouth, NJ
July 29, 1778 Leads one division under General Greene in assault on British in Newport; when D’Estaing takes his French fleet out of this battle, sent to act as go-between
December 29, 1778 British forces capture Savannah, Georgia.another failure by D’Estaing?
January 11, 1779 Arrives back in France seeking more support
December 24, 1779 Adrienne gives birth to a baby boy, George Washington Lafayette
March 17, 1780 Embarks on L’Hermione to America with message of additional French support
April 28, 1780 Arrives at Boston Harbor, tumultuously greeted as a hero
March 10, 1780 Arrives at Morristown and tells Washington France sending 6,000 troops, artillery, munitions, ships and money, under the command of Rochambeau
May 12, 1780 Charleston, South Carolina surrenders to Crown forces.
July 1780 Rochambeau and the French Army arrive in Newport, Rhode Island to join the allied cause.
August 16, 1780 American forces defeated at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina; Gates abandons his troops
September 23, 1780 Discovery that General Benedict Arnold has committed treason
Fall 1780 British move the war to the South: since the situation in the North is a stalemate, and because they believe loyalist support is strong there
October 7, 1780 Loyalist forces defeated at King’s Mountain, South Carolina.
February, 1781 Takes command of troops, which he outfits from his own pocket, and tries to capture Benedict Arnold, who is laying waste to Virginia
March 15, 1781 At the Battle of Guilford Court House, NC, British forces technically win, but with so many casualties they must cease operations. Cornwallis decides to leave the Carolinas and invade Virginia, which he thinks will cripple Patriot support
January 17, 1781 British forces defeated at Cowpens, South Carolina
May 10, 1781 Cornwallis and his army enter Virginia
May 20, 1781 Cornwallis assumes overall command of all British forces in Virginia. His campaign of economic and military destruction begins.
July 6, 1781 Lafayette’s small American force barely escapes destruction during the Battle of Green Spring, near Jamestown.
August 1, 1781 Cornwallis occupies Yorktown, planning to use the port as his base for resupply as he continues his Virginia campaign. Even as he sets up camp, Lafayette’s spies bring news of the plan. Lafayette relays word to Washington.
August 14, 1781 Washington receives word that French Admiral DeGrasse is sailing for the Chesapeake Bay with a large battle fleet (28 battleships and many support vessels) and a 3,000 man army from the Caribbean.
August 19,1781 Washington and Rochambeau and the allied troops begin 450 mile trek to Yorktown in secret
August 25, 1781 DeBarras sails from Newport, Rhode Island with supplies and heavy siege guns.
August 29, 1781 DeGrasse arrives at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
September, 1781 Pursues and corners Cornwallis at Yorktown, VA
September 5, 1781 Battle of the Capes DeGrasse defeats the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay,
September 5, 1781 British and French naval forces clash in the Battle of the Capes.
September, 1781 DeGrasse blockades the British in Yorktown, urges L. to attack but he insists on waiting for Washington to arrive
September 14, 1781 Meets with Washington and Rochambeau after their arrival in Williamsburg
September 20, 1781 American and French troops start to arrive in Williamsburg
September 28, 1781 Siege of Yorktown begins, Washington gives Lafayette command of one of the three Continental divisions
October, 1781 French and American troops cannonade the British into surrender after nine days of blistering artillery fire, Lafayette’s troops, under the command of Hamilton and ? capture one of two remaining British redoubts
October 19, 1781 Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, effectively ending the War of Independence
December 23, 1781 Leaves Boston on the Alliance and returns to France, where he continues to lobby for trade agreements, etc., with America
March 28, 1783 ? Daughter Virginie born, named after Washington’s home state
September, 1783 The Treaty of Paris signed, America wins its complete independence
August 17, 1784 Visits Mount Vernon as Washington’s honored guest
July, 1824 — At the invitation of President Monroe, Lafayette makes a triumphal Farewell Tour of September 24, 1825 all of the United States
May 20,1834 Lafayette dies in Paris, aged 76, and is buried in Picpus cemetery under dirt from Bunker Hill
For a complete timeline that includes Lafayette’s role in the French revolution, please visit: https://friendsoflafayette.wildapricot.org/Timeline, on which this timeline is largely based.