Stephen Rochefontaine

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Stephen Rochefontaine (February 20, 1755 Ay, Marne France – January 30, 1814 New York City) was a French-born military engineer who served as such in the Continental Army, during the American Revolutionary War, and later as the Chief of Engineers of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He was born Étienne Nicolas Marie Béchet, Sieur de Rochefontaine.

Rochefontaine came to America in 1778 after failing to gain a position in the French Royal Corps of Engineers. He volunteered in General Washington's Continental Army on May 15, 1778 and was appointed captain in the Corps of Engineers on September 18, 1778. For his distinguished services at the siege of Yorktown, Rochefontaine was given the brevet rank of major by Congress, November 16, 1781.

He returned to France in 1783 and served as an infantry officer, reaching the rank of colonel in the French Army. He came back to the United States in 1792 and anglicized his first name to Stephen. President Washington appointed him a civilian engineer to fortify the New England coast, in 1794.

After the new Corps of Artillerists and Engineers was organized, Washington made Rochefontaine a lieutenant colonel and commandant of the new Corps on February 26, 1795. Rochefontaine started a military school at West Point in 1795, but the building and all his equipment were burned the following year. He left the Army on May 7, 1798, and lived in New York City, where he died January 30, 1814. He is buried in the Churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel in New York.


This article contains public domain text from "Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Rochefontaine". Portraits and Profiles of Chief Engineers. Archived from the original on April 4, 2005. Retrieved May 9, 2005. 

Military offices
Preceded by
Louis Lebègue Duportail
Chief of Engineers
Succeeded by
Henry Burbeck