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Guide to the Naval History Society Collection
1721-1995 (bulk 1781-1936)
  MS 439

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Celia Hartmann.

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on May 29, 2018
Description is in English.

Container List

Series 18. France, Navy (1781)

Scope and Content

The collection consists of two volumes of transcripts from the Archives Nationales of France documenting the role of vessels under the command of Admiral De Grasse in the Battle of Yorktown.

Historical Note

French ships of the fleet of Admiral Francois Joseph Paul, Comte De Grasse (1722-1788), drove off the 19 British ships of Admiral Graves in early September, 1781, in the so-called Second Battle of the Virginia Capes. This isolated the forces of Cornwallis at Yorktown, contributing to his eventual surrender.

According to the Society's 1914 Annual Report, the location of De Grasse's records was unknown for many years. "But by diligent search, undertaken on the order of the Minister of Marine, upon the solicitation of the Secretary of the Society..., the lost records were found - the logbooks of all of De Grasse's ships, the dispatches received from the Admiral and the letter-book of orders issued to him from Paris." These were transcribed for the Society by the French government and were included in the seventh volume of its publications: "The Despatches of Thomas Graves, R.N., 1781," edited by Rear Admiral French E. Chadwick, U.S.N. and printed by DeVinne Press, New York, in 1916.

Container 1     Title Date
Volume: 1 "Transcripts from the Archives Nationals/ Archives de la Marine B4 184, 238, 248/ Livres de Bord Citoyen, Languedoc, Pluton/ 16 Juillet - 20 Septbre 1781."
1781 July 16 - September 20
Volume: 2 "Journal de Navigation de L'Armee aux Ordres de M. Le Comte de Grasse/ 16 Juillet - 21 Septembre 1781
1781 July 16 - September 21

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