Count Charles Henri d’Estaing

Charles Henri d’Estaing (1729-1794) was born in France in 1729, where he entered the army as a colonel of infantry.  He ultimately joined forces with Count de Lally in the East Indies, and was taken prisoner during the Siege of Madras.  D’Estaing was paroled, but before his parole was ratified, D’Estaing joined the French East Indian Company in its attacks against British factories in the Persian Gulf and Sumatra.

D’Estaing found himself a prisoner again, this time of the British Crown as he sailed back to France in 1760.  He was imprisoned in Portsmouth on conditions that he had broken his parole, but was released again when the charges could not be substantiated.  Upon his release, D’Estaing began working with American generals in order to disrupt British attacks.  D’Estaing experienced terrible luck when a storm tore apart many of his vessels that were posed to attack British ships.  He docked in Boston for repairs, and eventually succeeded in capturing St. Vincent and Grenada.

D’Estaing’s ill luck continued when he attacked British-controlled Savannah in 1779.  He and the Americans were repulsed with heavy losses, and d’Estaing felt compelled to retire.  Life back in France was not much better; he fell out of favor in court, and in 1793 he found himself testifying in support of the royal family during the trial of Marie Antoinette.  He was sent to the gallows on April 28, 1794.

Adapted from New Georgia Encyclopedia article on Charles Henri d’Estaing


From the GHS Collection:

Manuscript: John Laurens letter, 1779, MS 483; John McQueen deeds and letters, 1765-1807, MS 538

Microfilm: Archives nationales (France) collection on the Siege of Savannah, 1779, MS 1494

Rare: Storm over Savannah : the story of Count d’Estaing and the siege of the town in 1779, E241.S26 L3