Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New Artifact: Model of L'Hermione


Hermione entering Newport harbor on July 8, 2015

Last summer, Newport was fortunate to host a visit from Hermione, a replica of the French frigate that carried the Marquis de Lafayette to the United States during the American Revolution. She arrived on July 8 and was here to celebrate the 235th anniversary of the arrival of French troops under Rochambeau. The Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America presented this beautiful model to the Naval War College Museum, and we are delighted to add it to our permanent collection. The model is thirty-five inches long and is the only one in our collection that is shown under sail.

Model of Hermione presented by
the Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America
Shipwright Henri Chevillard oversaw construction of the original Hermione in Rochefort from 1778 to 1779. The Marquis de Lafayette traveled to Boston aboard Hermione in 1780 to deliver the good news that French reinforcements were on their way and to serve under General Washington. Hermione hosted more famous visitors in May 1781 when Washington and Lafayette invited the Continental Congress to dine with them on board her. She was first and foremost a warship, however, and participated in several battles including an attack on a convoy near Louisbourg. Hermione returned to France after the surrender at Yorktown, but she wasn’t through fighting the British. The frigate saw action again during the early years of the French Revolution. She was lost on September 20, 1793, after running aground off Le Croisic near St. Nazaire.

Construction of the replica began in 1997 and utilized traditional building methods and materials whenever possible. Hermione left Port de Barques on April 18 and arrived at Yorktown, Virginia on June 5. She then sailed up the east coast visiting eleven other ports in the United States and Canada. Her stay in Newport from July 8-9 was timed to coincide with the 235th anniversary of the arrival of Rochambeau’s troops during the war.

Rob Doane
Curator, Naval War College Museum

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