D’Estaing, Comte Jean Baptiste Charles Henri Hector


1778 MsDS of the French General & Admiral 3 weeks before sailing to aid the American revolutionary cause



Autograph ID: 6928
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1729-1794) After France entered the American Revolutionary War in 1778, he led a fleet to aid American rebels. He joined in a failed 1778 Franco-American siege of Newport and the unsuccessful 1779 Siege of Savannah, but succeeded in the Caribbean before returning to France in 1780. Sympathetic with the French Revolution, personally loyal to the royal family, guillotined in the Reign of Terror. D’Estaing was educated with the Dauphin, future Louis XV, and served in his retinue. A Lieutenant in the War of Austrian Succession, ADC to Marshal Saxe in the 1746-48 Flanders campaigns, promoted to Colonel commanding his regiment, wounded at the 1748 Siege of Maastricht. He was promoted to Brigadier General for an expedition to the East Indies. The Comte d’Ache’s fleet with forces under Comte de Lally arrived at British-occupied Cuddalore in India in 1758. D’Estaing led Lally’s left in taking Fort St. Joseph. When Lally began besieging Madras in Dec. 1758, d’Estaing was bayoneted and captured, paroled 1759. In May he joined the French East India Company and led a naval expedition to Mauritius. Commanding a small company fleet, he sailed to the Persian Gulf Sept. 1759. In a daring raid, 50 of his men entered the well-fortified Muscat harbor, took a British ship without resistance, and sailed to Sumatra. In Feb. 1760, his fleet captured Natal, Bengkulu, and lesser British settlements on the west side of Sumatra. Returning to France, his ship was captured by the British, he was imprisoned but allowed to return to France, commissioned a Field Marshal for his East Indies service. He was Governor General of the French Leeward Islands 1764-66. In 1777 he was promoted to Vice Admiral of the Asian & American seas. When France entered the American Revolutionary War in 1778, he led a fleet from Toulon to aid the American colonies. He blockaded Lord Howe’s fleet at Sandy Hook, New Jersey July 11-22, but did not enter New York harbor. With American generals, he planned an attack on Newport, but before it could occur, he sailed against Admiral Howe’s fleet. A storm forced both fleets to separate before battle; many of d’Estaing’s ships were shattered so he sailed to Boston for repairs. He arrived in the West Indies in Dec., failing to prevent British capture of St. Lucia. In June 1779, his fleet, reinforced by the Comte de Grasse, captured St. Vincent and on 4 July took Grenada. In August, he sailed for Savannah to assist in its recapture. D’Estaing was in overall command 16 Sept.–18 Oct. 1779, twice wounded, the attack and siege failures, returning to France 1780. In 1787, he was elected to the Assembly of Notables. When the French Revolution broke out, he supported the revolutionary cause. In 1789, he led the Versailles National Guard, and in 1792 was promoted to Admiral by the National Assembly. While supporting reform, he stayed loyal to the royal family, testifying for Marie Antoinette in her 1793 trial during the Reign of Terror. He was brought to trial as a reactionary and went to the guillotine 28 April 1794.

11 ½ x 7 ¼ MsDS in French, no date, likely written at Toulon, titled “Extract from the March 31 1778 Letter of Minister Dallee at Versailles”, rough translation as follows: “Engineer Geographer Gautier has left to join you. He will have in April an account of 250 [livres?], not less than he had at the War Department employed in the campaigns and I made him pay 400 [livres?] for the voyage. Signed by Sartinal [name ?]. This copy conforms to the original. [signed] Estaing.” On Dutch watermarked paper. ”
Type: Document

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