Journal ou Campagne des Armées de Terre et de Mer…  1781-1782
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The journal, which is titled Journal ou Campagne des Armées de Terre et de Mer, depuis le 22 Mars, 1781, jour du départ de l'armée navale françoise, commandée par Mr. le Comte de Grasse, de la Rade de Brest jusques au 31 May, 1782, jour auquel l'escadre commandée par Mr. le Marquis de Chabert, est partie de la Rade du Cap François pour conduire en Europe un convoy de 126 voiles, avec les details de la traverse la ditte escadre, documents the movements of the French naval squadron commanded by the Comte de Grasse during the American Revolution. Written by an anonymous member of the French navy, the journal begins with the fleet's departure from Brest on March 22, 1781, followed by their arrival at St. Lucia at the end of April. While in the West Indies, the author recorded enemy activities and engagements, including a battle led by the Marquis de Bouillé, who landed on St. Lucia, "sous le fond d'une batterie des ennemis" (under a battery of enemies), and captured one-hundred prisoners (p. 4).

The fleet remained in the West Indies for the next several months. In July, while the ships were stationed at Cap François at Saint Domingue, dispatches arrived from Generals Washington and Rochambeau, asking for naval support to defend against General Cornwallis's forces, who were stationed in Virginia, poised to invade Maryland, and if it would be possible "d'arreter ces progrès et même de le prendre lui et son armée, si nos forces maritimes devenoient superieurer…"to stop their progress and even capture him [Cornwallis] and his army, if our maritime forces proved superior) (p. 6).

The author then discussed the preparation and departure of the fleet, which arrived at the Chesapeake on August 30th, where de Grasse proceeded to blockade the entrances of the York and James rivers. The journal then records the slaughter of Marquis de St. Simon's men by British soldiers at the James River. The author described corpses exposed on the river bank, and the devastation of a deserted region: "tel fut le triste et cruel spectacle, qui s'offrit a ces yeux," (such was the sad and cruel spectacle that showed itself to these eyes) (verso p. 8). After de Grasse's arrival, Cornwallis swiftly fortified his position at Yorktown. The journal contains details on the Battle of the Chesapeake, fought between French and British fleets on September 5th, and includes a diagram of the positions of the French and English ships on the Chesapeake (inlaid at p. 9).

By mid-October, Cornwallis was forced to surrender; the journal includes a copy of the articles of capitulation, signed on October 19th (p. 14). After successfully blockading the Chesapeake, and the surrender of Cornwallis, de Grasse returned to the West Indies. The journal contains accounts of the Marquis de Bouillé's attack on St. Eustatius, the captures of Martinique and St. Christopher, and the articles of capitulation for the surrender of St. Christopher. The journal also contains an account of the April 1782 battle in which Admiral Rodney defeated de Grasse's fleet. The end of the journal contains lists of the vessels under de Grasse and the Comte de Barras, along with a list of British ships (September 5, 1782).

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