Sunday, February 5, 2017


1729 – 1794

Charles Hector, was a Frenchman, who assisted the American Colonies against the British Fleet of Lord Howe during the American Revolution. Here is an abstract of articles gathered from Wikipedia, Military Wiki, Encyclopedia Britannica and Barefootin in the Cape Gazette, that offers a bit of a story about he and his life.

Jean Baptiste Charles Henri Hector, born November 24, 1729, at the Chateau de Ravel in Auvergne, to Charles Francois, the Marquis de Saillant and Marie Henriette Colbert de Maulevrier, a descendant of Jean Baptiste Colbert. His father was a lieutenant general in the French Army and came from a family with a long history of service to the french crown. Charles Hector, also known as Count de Estaing, was educated alongside Louis the Dauphin, father of Louis XVI, was a close friend and served as an attendant of the Dauphin. At age 9, the year of 1738, he was enrolled in the musketeers by his aristocratic family. Within eight years he was a lieutenant in the Regiment de Rouergue. That was the year1746, the same year that he married Marie Sophie, the granddaughter of the Marshal Chateau Renault. The regiment was called to service in the War of the Austrian Succession. D'Estaing served as aide-de-camp to Marshal Saxe in the Flanders campaigns of 1746 and 1748, became a colonel of command of Regiment de Rouergue. In 1748 he was wounded at the Seige of Maastrich.
D'Estaing was a leading reformer in King Louis XV's program to modernize his army which the regiment under D'Estaing became known as a model of the infantry.
There too, he seeking to gain experience in diplomacy, he accompanied the French ambassador to England for a time.
In 1755, during hostilities between the British and French colonies in North America he considered joining the force of Louis Joseph de Montcalm and sail to America but was dissuaded by his family. In 1757, after he had transferred the command of his regiment, he applied to participate in an expedition to the East Indies, when accepted was promoted to brigadier general. Before embarking on this expedition, in January, 1757, d'Estaing was awarded the Order of Saint Louis. After the lengthy voyage of Count d'Ache's fleet with the forces of Count de Lally on board , they arrived at Cuddalore on the southern coast of India, controlled by the British, the date 28 April 1758. During one of the campaigns there d'Estaing was surrounded by the British troops, wounded and surrendered, confined at Madras until he was paroled in May of 1759 to Ile de France, Mauritius.

At Ile de France in 1759, he was unable to re- join with Count Lally's forces due to terms of the parole, not to fight the British in the East Indies with Lally. Honoring the terms of parole he joined the service of French East India Company, as a “Spectator” in command of a naval expedition for Ile de France. Here he saw action as commander of a 50 gun Conde and frigate l'Expedition in the Persian Gulf, took prize a British ship at Muscat, destroyed a British factory at Bandar-Abbas, then sailed to Sumatra , arriving in February of 1760, capture British Natal, sailed to British Tappanooly to destroy the fortification . sailed to Padang, a dutch settlement and supplemented his forces with local recruits and supplies, after which he sailed for Bencoolen, capital of Indonesian Bengkulu, a major settlement on Sumatra, defended by Fort Marlborough and a garrison of 500 Europeans and locals. With one broadside on the fort the defenders fled into the jungle. D'Estaing then used Fort Marlborough to subdue the British settlements on the west side of Sumatra. He returned to Ile de France ten months after departure.
Ordered back to France, on the voyage the ship was captured by the British , he was again imprisoned, successfully defended himself and was allowed to return to France. There he was welcomed with a commission of Field Marshal for his East Indies service.
Early 1762 d'Estaing was promoted to army Lt .General, then removed from the army, sent to the navy with the rank of chef d'escadre, a rear admiral.
1764 King Louis appointed d'Estaing governor general of the French Leeward Islands, a post he held until 1766. His efforts to recruit a population of Acadians was unsuccessful because of climate, poor land and disease.
1767 he returned home to France and was granted a divorce or separation from his wife which has been in contention since 1756.
1772 he was appointed Naval Inspector and Governor at Brest, the French principal Atlantic Naval Station.
1777 he was promoted to vice Admiral of Asian American Seas, the vice-amiral des mers d'Asie et d'Amerique.
1778 France entered the American War of Independence, d'Estaing left Toulon in command of twelve ships and four frigates to assist the American Colonies. He saw action at New York's Sand Hook and Newport, Rhode Island., was defeated at St. Lucia, capture St Vincent and set out to capture Barbados which was a failure because of the westerly trade winds, however, he was able to take Grenada. He and Admiral Byron met in a somewhat disorganized battle with both fleets having to retire to their bases for repairs before either could call a “victory”.
On August 1778 d'Estaing sailed for Savannah, Georgia to join forces with the Americans to recapture the British held city. A siege by the joint Franco American force with d'Estaing in command lasting near a month failed and he was twice wounded. The British held control of coastal Georgia until the end of the war.

1780 D'Estaing returned to France on crutches, fell in disfavor and criticized by subordinates. . He went into politics, was a grandee of spain, a member of Assembly of Notables and suported the revolutionary cause in the French Revolution. 1789 he became commander of the Versailles National guard, 1792 prometed to admiral rank by a National assembly. Staying loyal to the royal family, favored Marie Antonette, brought to trial charged as a reactionary and sent to the guillotine 28 April 1794, suggesting that his severed head be sent to the British which he said would pay a good deal for it.
Both his wife, Marie Sophie Rousselot and his only child had died earlier.
1784 D'Estaing and his heirs were granted four 5000 acre tracts of vacant land in Franklin county Georgia by the Governor John Houston

So what is the Lewes connection to this story? Barefootin tells that General George Washington had sent his chief aid, Lt. Colonel, Alexander Hamilton to Lewes at the time of the Savannah siege to rendezvous with D'Estaing and his fleet. Hamilton sailed from Philadelphia to Lewes, where there were taverns, inns, residences and commercial establishments, seeking Henry Fisher, who monitored shipping activity, and relayed the information to Philadelphia, probably lodging with him at home. The rendezvous apparently never happened and Hamilton left Lewes for Egg Harbor, New Jersey, hoping to meet up with D'Estaing there. There are feelings that Hamilton enjoyed the hospitality and fine fall weather and strode the streets of Lewes as the most important historical figure to ever visit this part of Delaware.

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