On March 10, 1781, two French officers rushed south from Baltimore to see the developing situation in Virginia first hand and confer with French General Lafayette newly arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia with 1200 light infantry. Their route took them through Charles County along the path mapped out by Simeon DeWitt. I have elected to show these two officers, Colonel Robert Dillon of Lauzun’s Legion and comte de Saint-Maisme colonel of the Soissonnois Regiment, at Christ Church Wayside before they continued the short distance to Hooe’s Ferry. Col Robert Dillon in the blue jacket and red pants was second in command of Lauzun's Legion. He might also have been one of the more colorful officers in the French forces in America at this time. He was a man with a “short fuze” and a propensity to fight a duel at the slightest provocation. Lauzun’s Legion was a short-lived, irregular unit under Rochambeau composed of men from at least fifteen different countries—often deserters and trouble-makers who had fled other postings. They lived hard and fought hard defeating the British unit commanded by the notorious Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarelton at Gloucester Point near Yorktown. In contrast, the comte de Saint-Maisme was a senior officer in a regular army unit and by all accounts a gentleman. It’s hard to imagine two more different traveling companions than Dillon and the comte de Saint-Maisme. Their conversations along the way must been quite interesting. Architectural note: The side windows of the church were not arched as they are now, and the road used by each of these travelers passed beyond the brick gates in the background.
Oil on canvas 24x36 inches