Henri César, marquis de Castellane Majastre papers (1713-1828)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Rob S. Cox, June 1997
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Henri César, marquis de Castellane Majastre papers
Creator: Castellane Majastre, Henri César, marquis de, d. 1789
Inclusive dates: 1713-1828
Extent: 14 items
The papers of the Marquis de Castellane include brief, but significant, documentation of French naval and military activity during the American Revolution.
Language: The material is in French and English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

1934. M-217.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation

Henri César, marquis de Castellane Majastre Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Born into an ancient noble family in Riez, Basses-Alpes (Alpes de Haute Provence), Henry César, marquis de Castellane Majastre, was a career officer in the French naval service, and appears to have descended from a family with long connections to the navy. Among his most important contributions, at least from the American standpoint, Castellane Majastre served in the French fleet that sailed to the aid of the Americans in March, 1781.

As commander of the 74-gun vessel Marseillais , Castellane Majastre sailed from Brest with the fleet of Admiral François Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse, on March 22, 1781, bound for Martinique, and he subsequently took part in the decisive campaign leading to the capture of Cornwallis' army at Yorktown, including the actions on the Chesapeake in September, 1781, and at Yorktown itself in October. The marquis was singled out by de Grasse for special commendation for his part at the Chesapeake Capes.

Returning to the West Indies in November, 1781, Castellane Majastre led the Marseillais into action during the Battle of the Saints in April, 1782, forming part of the escadre blanche et bleu during this French naval disaster. In May, 1782, he was reported at Saint Domingue as part of the fleet under the marquis de Vaudreuil, and although his whereabouts for the next seven years are uncertain, at some point he returned home to Riez, where he died on May 5, 1789.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The papers of the Marquis de Castellane include brief, but significant documentation of French naval and military activity during the American Revolution. The manuscripts are comprised of miscellaneous items extracted from the papers of the Castellane family in France by a bookdealer.

Authorship of the Castellane documents has not been positively determined, however it is likely that they can be safely attributed to Henri César, marquis de Castellane Majastre. Castellane Majastre commanded the Marseillais in de Grasse's squadron in 1781 and 1782, and the collection includes commissions and legal documents relating to Castellane Majastre and his family. He may have kept some of these journals, or may have copied them from his fellow officers.

The collection includes two cahiers dealing with the siege of Yorktown (61 pp.); a description of the Battle of Saints' Passage (Battle of Îles des Saintes), April 9-12, 1782, (5 pp.); a notebook on route the French army took in traveling from Rhode Island to Yorktown and during their return to France (7 pp.); and a journal of the siege of Yorktown with brief descriptions of De Grasse's naval campaigns (41 pp.). While these are not extensive, they include some fine descriptions of the engagements, leavened on occasion with observations on the people and scenery.

Subject Terms

  • Chesapeake Bay Region (Md. and Va.)--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
  • Grasse, François Joseph Paul de Grasse, comte de, 1722-1788.
  • Saintes, Battle of the, Guadeloupe, 1782.
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Naval operations.
  • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Participation, French.
  • Yorktown (Va.)--History--Siege, 1781.
Genre Terms:
  • Estate records.
  • Military records.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Box   1  
1st Cahier [series] (12 pp.)
Resumé of events since  1770
State of the English loss at York and Gloucester in Virginia, then the surrender of those two places the 19th of  October, 1781
Detail of the battle [Saints' Passage] of the 9th and 12th of  April, 1782 between Count de Grasse and Admiral Rodney, list of the losses
Order of March and list of the encampments on leaving York,  July 2, 1782 as far as Crampon [sic]
Cope of the letter of M. la Luzerne, minister plenipotentiary of the King to the United States, to Count de Grasse, Philadelphia,  1781 November 01
Copy of the resolution of Congress on  1781 November 2, thanking Count de Rochambeau for the capture of York
(Following the account of No. 3) Departure of Fort Royal from Martinique,  1782 April 08
Letter of Lord Cornwallis to General Clinton--detail of the battle--announcing the surrender of York and Gloucester
List of vessels, frigates, and other warships assigned to the different ports of France, with the numbers of cannon
Box   1  
2nd Cahier [series] (5 pp.)
Departure of Count de Grasse from St. Christopher,  1782 January 21, for Martinique
Detail of the sortie of the convoy from Martinique, escorted by all the fleet of Count de Grasse, April 8, which was the cause of the battle of the 9th and 12th of   April, 1782 [Saints' Passage]
Order of battle of the French fleet in the battle of   April 9, 1782
Box   1  
3rd Cahier [series] (44 pp.)
Concentration of the troops of Rochambeau, Lafayette, de Grasse and Washington
Account of the March of the army from Philadelphia to Georgetown
Battles in Chesapeake Bay
Losses of the French, description of cities, details and remarks on the appearance of the troops of the different armies, their movements
Journal of the siege of Yorktown--end of the campaign of  1781
Articles of capitulation
The surrender ceremony 8) Continuation of the campaign after the stay at York, description of the town
Wreck of the Diligente at the Virginia Capes, January 13
April 26, arrival of the Sibylle, rejoicing over the accouchement of the Queen
Return to Baltimore, the length of the day's March and of the halts, description of the country
Route from Baltimore to Crampon, already effected in  1781
Box   1  
4th Cahier [series] (7 pp.)
Route followed by the French army on its return from Yorktown to France
Baltimore to Crampon
Crampon to Providence
Providence to Boston
Route by sea: for Puerto Rico, Curaçao, Cap François
Route taken by the French army from Rhode Island to Yorktown in Virginia,  1781
First: March from Newport to Philipsburg, until August 19, "which convinced the English that our designs were on New York, from which we were only ten leagues distant"
Second: March from Philipsburg to Yorktown
Box   1  
5th Cahier [series] (41 pp.)
Another account of the arrival of the French troops at Philadelphia, concentration of the armies, American opinion of the French and their surprise at their appearance and their discipline, review of troops
Account of the siege and of the surrender of Yorktown (same plan, but differing from the preceding account in details)
Departure of de Grasse to the Antilles
General Washington's felicitation of Rochambeau's army
List of three battles engaged in at the Windward Islands between the French fleet of M. de Guichen and the English fleet commanded by Rodney
Battle of   April 17, 1780
Battle of May 15
Battle of May 19
Extract of Admiral Arbuthnot's letter on the battle of March 16, 1781. Order of battle of that combat
Supplement to the London News relative to the account of Vice-Admiral Arbuthnot
Another of the same day and the naval maneuvers following in March, April, May, and June
List of vessels, cannons, and the captains of the army of de Grasse and de Barras
Summary of the campaign of the navy under the command of de Grasse
 1781 March 22: Investment of Chesapeake Bay
 1781 September 25: Martinique
 1782 January 10: Saint Christopher
Engagement of the 25th of January
 1782 February 12: Capitulation of the Island of Saint Christopher and Monsalvat
Departure of the French fleet from St. Christopher,  1782 February 21
Battle of   April, 1782
Battles in May and June
Battle of July-August in Rhode Island
  September 1781 Battles between Rodney and Destouches at the neck of Rhode Island
December, January, February : The rest of the naval maneuvers
Account of the sortie of the French fleet in command of Destouches, and of the action which took place  1781 March 16 between that fleet and that of Adm. Arbuthnot. Plan of battle
Summary of the battle where M. la Perouse was aboard the Astrée and M. Latouche commanded theHermione,  1781 July 21
Box   1  
Other items in collection [series]
Giraud, Jean François DS Henry de Castellane Majastre,  1755 April 05
Extrait des registres du greffe de Riez: Giraud, Jean François DS Henry de Castellane Majastre,  1756 April 18
Line of battle of the combined French and Spanish army under the order of Count d'Orvilliers and M. de Cordova,  1779 List of vessels of the fleet, the number of cannons, their captains
"Les Dlles de Castellane font l'abbandon des diamans, Bijoux des leur mère en faveur du Sr. [Joseph Alphonse] de Castellane leur frère,"  1812 January 12
"Indemnités des émigrés," Castellane, Joseph Marie Gaspard André, 1825-1828
Document concerning the estate of Henri César de Castellane Majastre,  1828 May 13
Three vellum documents
"Brevet de Soutientant de Galere,"  1713 January 23
"Provisions de chevalier de l'order militaire de St. Louis pour le Sr. de Castellane Majastre Ens. de galere,"  1718 June 28
"Lettres de 1000# depension dans l'order de St. Louis pas le S. ch. de Castellane Majastre, premier enseigne de Galere,"  1719 November 20

Additional Descriptive Data

Related Materials

The Battle of Saints' Passage and the resultant legal proceedings in France are covered in great detail in the papers of the Maréchal de Castries, as well as in the papers of Sir Henry Clinton, Germain, Macartney, Shelburne, Sydney, Vaughan, and Winstone. The Yorktown Campaign is also extensively documented, particularly in the Clinton and Germain Papers.