François-Joseph-Paul, count de Grasse, (born September 13, 1722, Le Bar, France—died January 11, 1788, Paris), French naval commander who engaged British forces during the American Revolution (1775–83).
De Grasse took service in 1734 on the galleys of the Knights of Malta, and in 1740 he entered the French service. Shortly after France and America joined forces in the Revolutionary War, he was dispatched to America as commander of a squadron. In 1779–80 he fought the English off the West Indies. In 1781 he was promoted to the rank of admiral and was successful in defeating Admiral Samuel Hood and in taking Tobago. When American commander George Washington and the French general the comte de Rochambeau determined to march to Virginia to join forces with the marquis de Lafayette’s army against the British commander Lord Cornwallis, Washington requested the cooperation of de Grasse’s fleet. De Grasse therefore sailed from the West Indies to the Chesapeake River, where he was joined by a fleet under the comte de Barras. A British force under Admiral Thomas Graves attempted to prevent this juncture by engaging de Grasse’s fleet when it arrived at the Chesapeake Bay but was unsuccessful. French naval supremacy in the waters off Yorktown was instrumental in the success of the siege of that city.
The Battle of the Chesapeake, also known as the Battle of the Virginia Capes or simply the Battle of the Capes, was a crucial naval battle in the American Revolutionary War that took place near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on 5 September 1781. For more information about the battle, see: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=9218.
After Cornwallis’s surrender, de Grasse returned his fleet to the Caribbean. He was less fortunate in 1782 and was defeated at the Battle of St. Kitts by Admiral Hood. Shortly afterward, in April 1782, Admiral de Grasse was again defeated, and taken prisoner by Admiral Rodney at the Battle of the Saintes. He initially sailed with the British fleet to Port Royal, Jamaica but after a period of only around one week was permitted to leave on the first convoy to England. Here he was landed on Southsea beach, allegedly to much applause. In August he was granted an audience with King George III and was re-presented with his own sword, surrendered to Rodney at The Saintes.
He was taken to London for a time. While there, he briefly took part in the negotiations that laid the foundations for the Peace of Paris (1783), which brought the American Revolutionary War to an end. It also realigned control of some of the Caribbean islands.
Grasse was released to return to France, where he was strongly criticized for his defeat in the Caribbean. He published a Mémoire justificatif and demanded a court-martial.An inquiry into the events of the battle started in 1783, ending in 1784 in acquittal for most of the officers involved, including Grasse.
Grasse was a Commander of the Order of St. Louis and a Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. He was also a member of the American Society of the Cincinnati.
Admiral de Grasse died at Tilly (Yvelines) in 1788; his tomb is in the church of Saint-Roch in Paris.
PMR 2019; [P].
Source: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Fr ... asse-Tilly.
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