Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Charles Henri, comte d'Estaing, Journal Militaire

Hubert S. Smith Collection

Finding aid created by
Clements Staff and Philip Heslip, May 2010

Summary Information
Title: Charles Henri, comte d’Estaing, Journal Militaire
Creator: France. Armée
Inclusive dates: 1781-1783
Extent: 1 volume
The Charles Henri, comte d’Estaing, Journal Militaire traces the role of France in the siege of Gibraltar, (August 15, 1781 April 12, 1783) and contains copies of orders sending Commander d'Estaing and his fleet to America, in early 1783.
Language: The material is in French
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1955. M-981.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Charles Henri, comte d’Estaing, Journal Militaire , Hubert S. Smith Naval Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The Charles Henri, comte d’Estaing, Journal Militaire traces the efforts of France to engage the British military in Europe during the American Revolutionary War. After d’Estaing unsuccessfully attempted to defeat the British navy in North America between 1777 and 1780, he turned his attention to allying with Spain for the siege on Gibraltar. The Franco-Spanish forces blockaded Gibraltar from to December 1779 to February 1783, and though they succeeded in taking Minorca on February 5, 1782, they failed to capture Gibraltar. In early 1783, d'Estaing was ordered to leave Gibraltar and command his fleet to America. Though not a success, the siege depleted England's resources and the additional strain contributed to America's eventual victory for independence.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Charles Henri, comte d’Estaing, Journal Militaire is a 188-page volume, entitled, "Journal de l'Expedition de Mahón en 1781 et 1782; de l'Expedition de Gibraltar en 1782; de l'Expedition projetté en Amerique sous les Ordres de Monsr. le Cte d'Estaing en 1783." The volume is a French account, by an anonymous author, describing the campaign of the combined French and Spanish armies and fleets against the British at Minorca and Gibraltar, August 15, 1781-April 12, 1783. The volume also contains orders sent to d'Estaing directing him to prepare his fleet for America in early 1783.

In pages 1-65, the author detailed organization of the French forces in Toulon and its departure for the British held Port Mahón in Minorca. He described the make-up of the army at the siege, as well as casualties, weapons, troop movements, conditions of Fort St. Philip (Castell de San Felipe), and the eventual British capitulation. Also noted are disagreements among the French commanders.

In the remainder of the volume, pages 65-188, the author outlined the plan for sending troops to Gibraltar (April 1782), and described stops at various Spanish ports, such as Cádiz, Almería, Málaga, and Algeciras. He also discussed Gibraltar's fortifications, and the British use of heated shot to set fire to French ships. The journal reports on the activities of Louis Berton des Balbes Crillon, duc de Mahón, Marquis de Lafayette, and comte d'Estaing.

Entries of note include:

  • A list of ships involved in the siege of Gibraltar in June 1782 (page 99).
  • A description of the lead-up and action of the "Grand Assault" on September 13-17, 1782 (pages 120-126).
  • A notice of orders sent to d'Estaing on February 22, 1783, commanding him to prepare the fleet for America (page 170).
  • A list of ships to be sent first to America and then to the East Indies under the command of d'Estaing.
Subject Terms

    • Algeciras (Spain)
    • Almería (Spain)
    • Anglo-French War, 1778-1783.
    • Cádiz (Spain)
    • Crillon, Louis Berton des Balbes, duc de Mahón, 1717-1796.
    • Estaing, Charles Henri, comte d', 1729-1794.
    • France. Armée--Officers.
    • France. Marine.
    • France--History, Military--18th century.
    • France--History, Naval--18th century.
    • France--Military relations--Spain.
    • Gibraltar--History--Siege, 1779-1783--Sources.
    • Great Britain. Royal Navy.
    • Lafayette, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, marquis de, 1757-1834.
    • Mahón (Spain)--History--Siege, 1782.
    • Málaga (Spain)
    • Minorca (Spain)
    • Siege warfare.
    • Spain--Military relations--France.
    • Toulon (France)
    • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Participation, French.
    Genre Terms:
    • Journals (accounts)
    • Orders (military records)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Charles Henri, comte d’Estaing, Journal Militaire ,  1781-1783
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library holds Admiral d’Estaing's signal book, which contains orders and regulations for the fleet and color illustrations of flags (1780).