Jean-Baptiste Dupleix de Cadignan (1738-1824) entered the French army’s Régiment de Bourgogne-Infanterie as a lieutenant on April 15, 1754, five weeks before his sixteenth birthday. That same day, he began a diary that forms the basis for his over four-hundred page, two-volume journal owned by the Society of the Cincinnati. Commencing in April 1755, when he embarked for Louisbourg, Canada, Dupleix de Cadignan’s journal describes his experience as a prisoner of war in July 1758, his exchange the following year and additional imprisonment in Belfast after being captured off the coast of Sweden in 1760, his experience during the campaign against Pasquale Paoli in Corsica from 1769-1772, his expedition to St. Domingue (modern-day Haiti) following his promotion to lieutenant colonel in the Régiment d’Agenois in August 1777, his service in America during the latter years of the American Revolution, and his return home and retirement from the French army in 1784. Dupleix de Cadignan’s unique experiences combine accounts of naval warfare and siege warfare through the eyes of a single observer, and expand the geographic boundaries of the American Revolution by serving as a vivid reminder of the crucial role played by the French forces. Historian Robert A. Selig, Ph.D., discusses Dupleix de Cadignan’s illustrious military career while analyzing the causes and consequences of France’s military activities in the decades before the French Revolution.
About the Speaker
Robert A. Selig is a historical consultant who holds a Ph.D. in history from the Universität Würzburg in Germany, whose research focuses on the role of French forces under the comte de Rochambeau during the American Revolution. Dr. Selig is the author of several books, including Hussars in Lebanon!: A Connecticut Town and Lauzun’s Legion during the American Revolution, 1780-1781 (Lebanon, 2004) and “En Avant” With Our French Allies: Sites, Markers, and Monuments in Connecticut Commemorating the Contributions of French Troops under the comte de Rochambeau to the Achievement of American Independence, 1780 to 1782 (Hartford, 2004), and was responsible for the introduction and annotation of A Treatise on Partisan Warfare by Johann von Ewald (Westport, 1991). Dr. Selig has published more than one hundred articles for publications that include the William and Mary Quarterly, Eighteenth-Century Studies, Yearbook of the Society for German-American Studies, Journal of Caribbean History, American Heritage, Naval History, Military History Quarterly, Colonial Williamsburg, German Life and the Journal of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association. He currently serves as project historian to the National Park Service for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail Project, which traces the land and water routes taken by the American and French forces from Newport, R.I., to Yorktown, Va., in 1781, and has also served as project historian for several surveys funded by the American Battlefield Protection Program related to the battles of Princeton, Green Spring and Spencer’s Ordinary, the Clouds, Red Bank, Bennington, Hubbardton, Paoli, the Hook, Stone Arabia and Klocks Field, and three phases of the Battle of Brandywine. He is the recipient of numerous awards, his most recent and prestigious having been made a chevalier de l’Ordre national du Merite by French president Emmanuel Macron in 2022, for his role as one of the foremost American historians on the contributions of France in the American Revolution. Recently, Dr. Selig was awarded a fellowship by the Society of the Cincinnati to conduct research on the journal of Lt. Col. Jean-Baptiste de Dupleix de Cadignan.