Fleet of De Grasse at Yorktown 1781

Data based upon page 440 of Rochambeau: A Commemoration by the Congress of the United States of America (Washington DC, 1907). Prepared by DeB. Randolph Keim. Aditional sources from data on pp.400-402 of Jean-Jacques Antier's L'amiral de Grasse (date published?), and chart 'Ordre de bataille au combat de la Chesapeake', from Patrick Villiers La marine de Louis XVI (1998).
West Indies fleet of France, comte de Grasse, lieutenant-general, admiral commanding entrance to Chesapeake Bay, August 26 to November 5, 1781..

[Note this page does not include the squadron de Grasse commanded under the more senior command of d'Estaing in 1778-1779, in the West Indies and in North American waters.]

This webpage and chart, are under continuous development.


The fleet of de Grasse [François Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse (1722-1788), admiral, lieutenant-general naval armies of France] sailed out of the Brest harbor 22 March 1781. This does not include Suffren's squadron, which separate from de Grasse's fleet at the Azores and proceeded to India. Also, at the Azores, de Grasse's formation was joined temporarly by a squadron under Barras. Barras then departed directly for North America. De Grasse sailed on to the West Indies, where he took over 10 ships that had been under the command of Monteil [left there by Guichen]. De Grasse had been captain of a ship that had deployed in an earlier expedition, under comte d'Estaing, to North America in 1778 - 1779.
[More information on the French naval commanders (d'Estaing, Suffren, Barras, Guichen, and Monteil can be found at webpage FRENCH NAVAL LEADERS AND THE FRENCH NAVY IN THE AMERICAN WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE ]
The composition of de Grasse's fleet varied over time. From his initial formation, was added some ships when he arrived in the West Indies. Then he led most of his naval forces to the Viriginia coast, where he made a descive contribution to the Yorktown victory. He returned to the West Indies and met with disaster at the Battle of the Saints in January 1781. What follows is an attempt to describe his fleet in August through October 1781 in the costal waters of Virginia and was part of the Yorktown Campaign of 1781. A more comprehensive survey of de Grasse's naval command in 1781-1782 is at "Naval Fleets Under Comte DE GRASSE During the 1781-1782 Campaigns based upon chart "Navires sous de Grasse pendant les campagnes 1781-1782."
Vessel (guns) Class Commander Officers and Men
La Ville de Paris (104)
(fleet flagship)
SoL De Grasse 1,165
L'Auguste (80)
SoL De Bougainvillers,
chef d'escadre
970
[1,026?]
Languedoc (80)
SoL De Monteil
chef d'escadre
815
[?]
Le Sceptre (80)
SoL De Vaudreuil 837
[923?]
Le Saint Esprit (80)
SoL De Chabert 710
[760?]
Le César (74)
SoL Coriolis d'Espinouse 536
[?]
Le Destin (74)
(67?)
SoL Dumaitz de Goimpy 530
[?]
La Victoire (74)
SoL D'Albert Saint-Hyppolite 540
[?]
Northlumberland (74)
SoL De Briqueville 800
Le Palmier (74)
SoL D'Arros d'Argelos 550
[?]
Le Pluton (74)
SoL D'Albert de Rions 906
[?]
Le Marseillais (74)
SoL De Castellane de Majastre 606
[?]
La Bourgogne (74)
SoL De Charritte 560
[439?]
Le Réfléchi (74)

[Le Reffechi?]
SoL Cillart de Suville 560
[?]
Diadème (74)
SoL De Monteclerc 899
[1,020?]
Le Caton (74)
SoL De Framond 592
[654?]
Le Citoyen (74)
SoL D'Ethy 570
[802?]
Le Scipion (74)
SoL De Clavel 596
Le Magnanimè (74)
SoL Le Bègue 571
[580]
L'Hercule (74)
SoL De Turpin de Breuil 570
[510?]
Le Zélé (74)
SoL De Gras Préville 507
[?]
L'Hector (74)
SoL Renaud d'Aleius 643
[650?]
Le Souverain (74)
SoL De Glandevès 600
[511?]
Le Glorieux (74)
SoL D'Escars 610
[653?]
Le Vaillant (70)
SoL Bernard de Marigny 530
[?]
Le Solitaire (64)
SoL De Cicé Champion 450
[?]
Le Triton (64)
SoL Brun de Boades 450
[?]
L'Experiment (50)
SoL ? ***
NOTES:
1. The above table has 28 'Ships of the Line', totaling 2,078 guns and 18,138 crew members. However, recent research of French naval records suggests that Keim's list may be unreliable.

2. The above table from Keim does not fully track with the list from that of Patrick de Villiers for the 'Battle of the Chesapeake September 1781'. In particular:
(a) The following are not in de Villiers' list: Glorieux, Vaillant, Solitaite, Triton, and Experiment.
(b) De Villers lists twice the Railleuse [frigate?]? His list also refers to a frigate Aigette.

3. The following ships are listed on the bronze tablet at Yorktown, but are not in Keim's list: L'Engageante, La Concorde, L'Aigrette, L'Ivelly, Le Sagittaire, La Diligente, L'Amazone, L'Indien, and l'Actionnaire. La Couronne is listed jointly with Le Pluton. The information on this Yorktown tablet has obvious errors.

4. The following ships are not in Keim's list, but are cited in Jean-Jacques Antier's L'amiral de Grasse, 'Annese IV', pp,400-402:
(a) As 'vaisseaux': Actionnaire, Ardent, Brave, Conquérant, Couronne, Courageux, Eveillé, Jason, Intrépide, Magnifique, Neptune, Provence, Romulus, Triomphant.
(b) As 'frégates': Aimable, Astrée, Céres, Galathée, Inconstance, Iris, Loyalist, Médée, Richmond, Sandwich.
(c) As 'corvettes': Corps-Morrant, Queen-Charlotte, La Surveillante, Alerte.
(d) As 'cutters': Le Clairvoyant, Le Pandour.
Page posted 4 May 2002; revised 28 August 2010..