Lafayette, it is here: French ship replica Hermione brings magic to U.S. ports

The French are coming -- again. A replica of the Hermione, the ship that 235 years ago carried Gen. Lafayette from France to America re-creates the journey.

The ship is scheduled to arrive today in Yorktown, Va., the site of one of the pivotal Revolutionary War battles. It will make stops this summer at 11 more ports in North America.

Lafayette comes to America

A portrait of Gen. Lafayette at the New York Historical Society. (Don Emmert /AFP/Getty Images)

First off, the general has a really big name: Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilvert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, sometimes spelled La Fayette. He was just 19 when he came to America in 1777 and offered his help to George Washington. On March 19, 1780, he sailed on the French frigate Hermione and arrived in Boston more than a month later.

In case you don't remember (and we all should), the French helped rout the British many times, including the 1781 siege of Yorktown in which British Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis called it quits against the revolutionaries.

The replica Hermione comes to America

The crew of 72 men and woman trains aboard the replica Hermione. (Francois Mori / Associated Press)

This tall ship was 17 years in the making and is hailed as the Hermione, Frigate of Freedom. It took 2,000 oak trees in the hands of skilled artisans to bring the ship to life. A crew has been training for more than a year to sail the ship, which measures 213 feet long and has three masts. It left Rochefort, France, on April 18 on its 3,819-mile journey to Yorktown.

Where you can see the Hermione

The Hermione. (Francois Mori / Associated Press)

The ship will arrive in Yorktown on Friday and remain at the Riverwalk Landing Dock until Sunday. It will be open for tours and accompanied by a photography exhibit that details the construction of the replica ship.

Then the ship will stop:

June 9 at Mount Vernon, Va.

June 10-12 at Alexandria, Va.

June 16 and 17 at Annapolis, Md.

June 19-21 at Baltimore, adjacent to the historic USS Constellation and Pride of Baltimore

June 25-28 at Philadelphia

July 1-4 at South Street Seaport, Pier 15, New York City

July 5-7 at Greenport, N.Y.

July 8 and 9 at Newport, R.I.

July 11 and 12 at Boston

July 14-15 at Castine, Maine

July 18 at Lunenburg, Canada

Where to learn more about Lafayette

The New York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West in New York City is hosting an exhibition, "Lafayette's Return: The 'Boy General,' the American Revolution and the Hermione." It will feature letters he wrote to his wife and daughter as well as display his swords and medals. It runs through Aug. 16.


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