Jean-Baptiste Dontatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, was a commander of the French army that fought alongside General George Washington and the Continental Army during Revolutionary War. Unlike the Marquis de Lafayette, who defied King Louis XVI's orders to join the Colonies' forces, Rochambeau led as the official commander of the French Army following formal recongnition of Amercian revolutionary efforts, making him the ideal figure to symbolize official relations between France and the United States. A few years after the Spanish-American War, the French Chancellor to the United States requested that a replica of a statue of General Comte de Rochambeau located in Vedôme, France be erected in Washington, DC in hopes that it would repair and strengthen France's strained relationship with the United States. Congress provided funds and passed legislation in April 1901 authorizing sculptor Fernand Hamar to cast a replica statue for the United States.
This pedestrian bronze statue depicts Rochambeau directing his forces, pointing decisively with his right hand and holding a plan of battle unfurled in his left. At his feet, a female figure of Liberty disembarks from a boat with waves breaking at her feet and grasps two flags in her left hand, symbolizing the unity of France and America. With a drawn sword in her right hand, she prepares to defend an embattled eagle symbolizing America. The eagle holds with his right claw a shield with thirteen stars for the thirteen colonies. A sheaf of laurel lies on the pedestal at his feet. On the west face of the pedestal, carved in granite, is the coat of arms of the Rochambeau family, and that of France is on the east.
On May 24, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt, members of Congress, the Diplomatic Corps, and French miliary and civil delegations dedicated the Rochambeau statue in front of a crowd of thousands. The statue is located at the southwest corner of Lafayette Square and is managed by the National Park Service.