Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau

Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau (French pronunciation: [dɔnasjɛ̃ maʁi ʒozɛf vimœʁ ʁɔʃɑ̃bo]; 7 April 1755 – 20 October 1813) was a French military commander. He was the son of Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau.

Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau
Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Rochambeau in the uniform of the Régiment d'Auvergne
Born(1755-04-07)7 April 1755[1]
Paris, Kingdom of France
Died20 October 1813(1813-10-20) (aged 58)
Leipzig, Kingdom of Saxony
Allegiance Kingdom of France
 Kingdom of the French
 French First Republic
 First French Empire
Service/branchFrench Army
Years of service1769–1813
RankDivisional General
Battles/warsAmerican Revolutionary War
French Revolutionary Wars
Napoleonic Wars
Haitian Revolution
AwardsName inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe
RelationsSon of Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau
Governor of Saint-Domingue
In office
21 October 1792 – 2 January 1793
Preceded byJean-Jacques d'Esparbes
Succeeded byLéger-Félicité Sonthonax (commissioner)


General de Rochambeau in Saint Domingue

He served in the American Revolutionary War as an aide-de-camp to his father, spending the winter of 1781–1782 in quarters at Williamsburg, Virginia. In the 1790s, he participated in an unsuccessful campaign to re-establish French authority in Martinique and Saint-Domingue. Rochambeau was later assigned to the French Revolutionary Army in the Italian Peninsula, and was appointed to the military command of the Ligurian Republic.

In 1802, he was appointed to lead an expeditionary force against Saint-Domingue (Haiti) after General Charles Leclerc's death. His remit was to restore French control of their rebellious colony, by any means. Historians of the Haitian Revolution credit his brutal tactics for uniting black and gens de couleur soldiers against the French. After Rochambeau surrendered to the rebel general Jean-Jacques Dessalines in November 1803, the former French colony declared its independence as Haïti, the second independent state in the Americas. In the process, Dessalines became arguably the most successful military commander in the struggle against Napoleonic France.[2]

During his time in Haiti, Rochambeau waged a war of extermination, massacring thousands of blacks of all ages and genders. In 1803, he developed the world's first gas chambers. He used a rudimentary method of filling ships' cargo holds with sulfur dioxide to suffocate black prisoners of war.[3][4]

At the surrender of Cap Français, Rochambeau was captured aboard the frigate Surveillante by a British squadron under the command of Captain John Loring and returned to England as a prisoner on parole, where he remained interned for almost nine years.

He was exchanged in 1811, and returned to the family château, where he resumed the work of classifying the family's growing collection of maps, which his father had begun. He also enriched the collections with new acquisitions, in particular ones contributed by the military campaigns of his son, Auguste-Philippe Donatien de Vimeur, who served as the aide-de-camp for Joachim Murat and was with Murat's cavalry in the Russian campaign in 1812.

He was mortally wounded in the Battle of Nations, and died three days later at Leipzig, at the age of 58.

In addition to his legitimate son, Vimeur was survived by an illegitimate son, Lewis Warrington, conceived in Williamsburg, Virginia, when Vimeur was a young officer serving with his father in America during the Revolutionary War.[citation needed]

Motto and coat of arms

Coat of arms of Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau
Azure, a chevron Or between three rowels of the same
(To live and die valiantly)


  • "Rochambeau, Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 23 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 425.
  • "American War of Independence" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 1 (11th ed.). 1911. pp. 843–844.


  1. ^ Haynsworth IV, James Lafayette (2003). The early career of Lieutenant General Donatien Rochambeau and the French campaigns in the Caribbean, 1792--1794. Florida State University.
  2. ^ Christer Petley, White Fury: A Jamaican Slaveholder and the Age of Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), p. 182.
  3. ^ Mobley, Christina. "A War Within the War". Haiti: An Island Luminous. Duke University. Archived from the original on 31 July 2020. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  4. ^ Boot, Max (15 January 2013). Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present (hardcover 1st ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-87140-424-4. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  5. ^ Johannes Baptist Rietstap, Armorial général : contenant la description des armoiries des familles nobles et patriciennes de l'Europe : précédé d'un dictionnaire des termes du blason, G.B. van Goor, 1861, 1171 p