When the French army arrived in Newport in 1780, they were greeted by a city decimated from three years of British occupation. Many buildings had been razed for firewood, the island had been clear cut, much of the livestock had been slaughtered or removed, wharves had been torn up for wood, and scuttled British vessels littered the harbor. The fifth largest city in the British American Colonies up to that point, Newport in 1780 bore no resemblance to the once exceedingly prosperous port.
During this period of friendly occupation, which lasted through June 1781, French officers were quartered in the homes of Newporters. These officers lived alongside the people of Newport and became an important piece of the social tapestry in the city.