Donatien-Marie-Joseph Rochambeau

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The Vicomte de Rochambeau.
Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau (also Vicomte de Rochambeau ) (April 7, 1750 Chateau Rochambeau, France - October 18, 1813 Leipzig, Germany) French General and landowner in Saint-Domingue. In 1802, he was appointed to lead an expeditionary force against Saint-Domingue after General Leclerc's death. Historians of the Haitian Revolution credit his brutal tactics (see: Napoléon's Caribbean Genocide) for uniting black and mulatto soldiers against the French.

His father Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (July 1, 1725 – May 10, 1807), fought in the American Revolution with the younger Rochambeau as his aide-de-camp. On July 9 1792, Rochambeau was made a Lieutenant General in the French army.

Rochambeau was a Governor-General of Saint-Domingue from October 21, 1792 to January 2, 1793 and from November 2, 1802 to November 30, 1803.

"Rochambeau, the commanding general, from the landing of Napoleon's expedition to the entire expulsion of the French, was a hard-hearted slaveholder, many of whose years had been spent in St. Domingo, and who, from the moment that he landed with his forces, treated the colored men as the worst of barbarians and wild beasts. He imported bloodhounds from Cuba to hunt them down in the mountains. When caught, he had them thrown into burning pits and boiling caldrons. When he took prisoners, he put them to the most excruciating tortures and the most horrible deaths. His ferocious and sanguinary spirit was too much for the kind heart of Toussaint, or the gentlemanly bearing of Christophe. His only match was Dessalines." (Wells Brown p. 111)

Rochambeau and Napoléon Bonaparte's Caribbean Genocide

Revenge by the black troops for cruelty of French soldiers.
This monstrous agent [Rochambeau] of Bonaparte, a worthy accomplice of the colonists, polluted himself with every species of crime: he spared neither sex, nor infancy, nor age; he surpassed in cruelty the most accomplished villains of ancient or modern times. Gibbets 1 were every where erected; drownings, burnings, the most horrible punishments, were practiced by his orders. He invented a new machine of destruction, in which victims of both sexes, heaped one upon another, were suffocated by the smoke of sulphur... In his insensate rage, he procured from Cuba, at a great expense, a multitude of blood-hounds. (Barskett p.262) This is only one example of reports of the French cruelties under Rochambeau. Even the earliest accounts of the fighting put spacial emphasis on Rochambeau's sadistic and cruel methods.

The Battle of Vertières

The Battle of Vertières'.
After Rochambeau surrendered to the rebel general Dessalines in November of 1803 after losing the crucial Battle of Vertières, the former French colony declared its independence as Haiti, the second independent state in the Americas. On his way home, Rochambeau was captured by the English and returned to England as a prisoner on parole, where he remained interned for almost nine years.

Dessalines subsequently declared independence for Haiti and became the first ruler of the independent republic.

Rochambeau's death

Rochambeau was mortally wounded in the Battle of Nations (German: Völkerschlacht, and succumbed to his injuries three days later in Leipzig, Germany.

Note 1: gibbet n.

1. A device used for hanging a person until dead; a gallows.
2. An upright post with a crosspiece, forming a T-shaped structure from which executed criminals were formerly hung for public viewing..

See also


Battles of the Haitian Revolution




  • Barskett, James. History of the Island of St. Domingo: From Its First Discovery by Columbus to the Present Period". (1824). Mahlon Day, New York.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica: Eleventh Edition (1911-1912).
  • Gibbet. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved August, 18, 2007, from Web site: [1].
  • Léger, Jacques Nicolas. Haiti Her History And Her Detractors. (1907). The Neale Publishing Company. New York. available online - Accessed on August 16, 2007
  • Vicomte de Rochambeau. (2005, November 10). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 08:26, December 7, 2005 [2].
  • Wells Brown, William (1863). The Black Man, His Antecedents, His Genius, and His Achievements. Chapel Hill, NC: Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH. Online Publication

Further reading

  • Ribbe, Claude. (2005) Le Crime de Napoléon. Editions Privé. ISBN 235076012X (French language)

External links