The National Park Service will hold a special public ceremony to unveil the grave markers of two fallen French soldiers of the American Revolution.
According to Johnny F. Carawan, Trail Administrator for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, the ceremony will take place at Trinity Church in Newport on Friday, September 10 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm. The dedication will begin weekend-long activities, sponsored by the Newport Historical Society, in celebration of Revolutionary Newport.
Lieutenant Augustin Benjamin Lavilmarais of the French Frigate l’Hermione and Major Pierre du Rousseau Chevalier de Fayolle, an aide to Lafayette, will be remembered with new slate markers carved by Nick Benson of Newport’s John Stevens Shop. Church records indicate that the officers were buried in its churchyard in 1780. However, their original markers no longer exist.
The ceremony will begin with welcoming remarks from the National Park Service and project sponsors, with the Consul General of France to Boston, Arnaud Mentré, serving as the keynote speaker. The ceremony will conclude with unveiling of the markers, a 21-gun salute by the Newport Artillery Company, and the playing of taps. Church Street at Trinity Church will be closed from 1:30-3:30 pm to allow for public observation and social distancing. A live stream of the event will be available via the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route Association – W3R Facebook page.
“On the cusp of America’s 250th anniversary, we seek to highlight the lesser-known stories of the American Revolution and to help the public make personal connections to the Trail,” said Carawan in a provided statement. “These two soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice for America’s freedom. Until now, little has been known about them and little has been shared about their stories. We seek to honor their memory and recognize the many contributions and sacrifices made by the 5,000 French soldiers who came to America’s aid, helping us to win the Revolution.”
Trinity Church is a site on the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, which originates in Newport and ends in Yorktown, Virginia. The Trail is 680-miles in length and includes the land and water corridors that follow the routes taken by American and French armies under the commands of General Washington and Comte de Rochambeau to and from the siege of Yorktown, a pivotal event in the American Revolutionary War. The trail traverses nine states: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, plus the District of Columbia. For more information visit: www.nps.gov/waro.