The First Historian of the Revolutionary War: François-Jean de Chastelluz

As part of Trenton’s Liberty Weekend (July 8-10, 2022), the Trent House Association presents a talk by Dr. Iris de Rode on research by the Marquis de Chastellux as the Continental and French armies prepared for their march through New Jersey to the battle of Yorktown in 1781. This free program will be held on Saturday, July 9th, 2022, at 2 p.m. in-person at the William Trent House, 15 Market Street (across from the Hughes Justice Center) in Trenton and via Zoom at  A pay-as-you-wish donation can be made by PayPal at

During the last phase of the American Revolution, the French expeditionary army of the Count de Rochambeau came to the aid of George Washington’s forces in 1780. To conduct war in these new, unknown lands, a group of French officers went on a mission to do extensive studies of the American lands, its geography, topography and infrastructure, but also of the former battlefields of the American Revolution. François-Jean de Chastellux (1734-1788), the Major General of Rochambeau’s army, studied these former battlefields extensively, with the approach of a true historian. He wrote a very detailed account of the Battle of Trenton, based on his own thorough research based on accounts of eyewitnesses, in person interviews with the participants, observations he made in Trenton, and maps from both the British and the Americans. He can be considered the first historian of the Battle of Trenton, and during this lecture, Dr. Iris de Rode will take a close look at his analysis and conclusions about this important battle, based both on his published travel diary but also on unpublished sources from his family castle in Burgundy, France.

Dr. Iris de Rode specialized in the French role in the American Revolution. She earned her PhD in 2019 from the University of Paris, and just published François-Jean de Chastellux un soldat philosophe dans le monde atlantique à l’époque des Lumières (Paris, Honoré Champion, 2022), a biography of the Marquis de Chastellux, based on his unpublished private papers that she discovered in the Château de Chastellux. She is now working on her book in English, as well as a travel app for the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Trail and a documentary film on her research, and is a research fellow at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

The William Trent House Museum is a National Historic Landmark in the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area and on the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail. The Museum is dedicated to sharing the authentic history of the house, property, and people with our communities, connecting the past with today and tomorrow. Owned by the City of Trenton, it is operated by the Trent House Association, which is supported by the generosity of its members and donors; by grants from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the New Jersey Cultural Trust, the New Jersey Historic Trust, and the Mercer County Cultural and Heritage Commission with funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission; and by contributions from NJM Insurance Group and Orion General Contractors. For more information, visit

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