When you hear the name Hermione, what immediately comes to mind? If you’re like many of us, you think of the bushy-haired, brilliant friend of Harry Potter. But centuries before Miss Hermione Granger was introduced to us, L’Hermione brought the Marquis de Lafayette to America just before the Battle of Yorktown.
In 1780, The Hermione set sail from France on its way to America with the Marquis on board. It wasn’t his first voyage, but it would be one for which he’d be known. When he was just 19, Lafayette made his first trip to America on board La Victoire, where he landed in South Carolina in 1777. He had learned about the American cause for independence just two years prior when he joined the Freemasons. He quickly forged a strong bond with Gen. George Washington, who looked at Lafayette as a son.
Smithsonian Magazine referred to the Marquis as a cheerleader for the United States, and it was true. He’s credited with helping convince King Louis XVI to sign the Treaty of Alliance. When the Marquis returned to France in 1779, it wouldn’t take long to secure French troops to head to America to help fight. In March of the following year, the Hermione set sail from France to Boston and arrived in May.
Now, 235 years later, that voyage is being recreated with its first stop not Boston, but Yorktown—the site of the last major battle of the Revolution. It was there in 1781 the Marquis helped Gen. Washington defeat Lord Cornwallis and ultimately secure a victory for the United States. (Side note: You can send the troops off to Yorktown each day during our On to Yorktown and Victory! program).
The giant ship (the largest and most authentic Tall Ship in the last 150 years, according to the website) will dock in Yorktown June 5 – 7 and there will be no shortage of events to celebrate! Public tours of the ship will be available as well as musical performances, plays, artillery firings, and appearances by our own George Washington. You won’t want to miss all the fun. Click here for the complete schedule and make sure you follow #Hermione2015 on social media to track its progress. Can’t make it out to Yorktown? You can watch live by clicking here.
If you’d like to learn more about the recreation of the ship and the team behind it, click here. It took about 20 years of planning and testing to see a dream become a reality!
All photos are courtesy The Hermione Voyage 2015.