Naval officer; born in Valette, France
, in 1723; entered the navy when eleven years old; was conspicuous in the American Revolutionary War; and died in Paris
, Jan. 11, 1788.
On Aug. 3, 1781, the French fleet, under his command, appeared on the American
He had sailed from France
, towards the end of March, with twenty-six
Map: Virginia 1788, position of the English and French fleets previous to the action.|
ships-of-the-line, followed by an immense convoy of about 250 merchantmen.
That convoy he put safely into the harbor of Port Royal
, having carefully avoided a close engagement with a part of Rodney
's fleet, under Admiral Hood
He engaged with British vessels at long range (April 29), and so injured them that they were obliged to go to Antigua
for repairs, and, meanwhile, he accomplished the conquest of Tobago
He then proceeded with the fleet of merchantmen to Santo Domingo
, and soon afterwards sailed with an immense return convoy, bound for France
After seeing it well on its way, he steered for Chesapeake
, and, despite the activity of British fleets watching for him, he was safe within the capes of Virginia
, and at anchor, with twenty-four ships-of-the-line, at the beginning of September.
He found an officer of Lafayette
's staff at Cape Henry
, sent to request him to blockade the York
and James rivers
, so as to cut off Cornwallis's retreat.
This was done by four ships-of-the-line and several frigates; and 3,000 French troops were sent to join Lafayette
supposed part of the French fleet had left the West Indies
, but did not suppose the whole fleet would take that direction.
He thought it only necessary to reinforce
, so he sent Admiral Hood
with fourteen ships-of-the-line for the purpose.
He reached the Chesapeake
(Aug. 25, 1781) before the French
Not finding Graves
there, he proceeded to New York, where news had just arrived that the French squadron at Newport
had gone to sea, plainly with intent to join the new French fleet.
In the hope of cutting off one or the other of the French
fleets before the junction could be effected, Graves
sailed with the united British fleets, nineteen ships-of-the-line, and was astonished, when he arrived at the capes of Virginia
, to find the French
, also surprised at this sudden appearance of a heavy British fleet, ordered his ships to slip their cables and put to sea. For five days the contending vessels manoelig;uvred in sight of each other.
avoided a close contact, his object being to cover the arrival of the squadron from Newport
So a distant cannonade was kept up. De Barras
entered the Chesapeake
finding his vessels badly shattered, returned to New York to refit, leaving the French
in undisturbed possession of the bay, and the French transports were then sent to Annapolis
to convey to the James River
the allied armies.
On April 12, 1782, a fierce naval engagement occurred in the West Indies
between Count de Grasse
and Admiral Sir George Rodney
The count's flag-ship was the Ville de Paris
, the same as when he assisted in the capture of Cornwallis at Yorktown
She was a magnificent vessel, which the city of Paris
had presented to the King
(Louis XV.). The count fought his antagonist with such desperation that when he was compelled to strike his colors only two men besides himself were left standing on the upper deck.
By this defeat and capture there fell into the hands of the English
thirty-six chests of money and the whole train of artillery intended
for an attack on Jamaica
lost in the engagement, in killed and wounded, about 3,000 men; the British
For more than a century the French
had not, in any naval engagement, been so completely beaten.
The family of De Grasse
were ruined by the fury of the French Revolution
, and four of his daughters (Amelia
, Melanie, and Silvia
) came to the United States
in extreme poverty.
Congress, in February, 1795, gave them each $1,000, in consideration “of the extraordinary services rendered the United States
in the year 1781 by the late Count de Grasse
, at the urgent request of the commander-in-chief
of the American
forces, beyond the term limited for his co-operation with the troops of the United States