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JEAN-BAPTISTE-CHARLES-HENRI-HECTOR, COMTE D'ESTAING (MARQUIS DE SAILLANS).

A French admiral, b. at the chateau de Ravel (Auvergne), 28 November, 1729; d. at Paris, 28 April, 1794. He first served in the army as a colonel of infantry. In 1757, having obtained the rank of brigadier-general, he went to the East Indies, with Lally-Tollendal. Made a prisoner at the siege of Madras (1759), he was set free on parole, entered the service of the French East Indian Company, and (with two vessels) destroyed the British factories in Sumatra and the Persian Gulf. He was on his way to France, in 1760, when he fell into the hands of the English and was sent to Plymouth. Released a second time, he was appointed lieutenant-general of the navy in 1763, and vice-admiral in 1777. One year later, he left Toulon in command of a fleet of twelve battleships and fourteen frigates with the intention of assisting the struggling American colonies against Great Britain. Unfavourable winds delayed him and so Admiral Howe's fleet escaped his pursuit and d'Estaing took possession of Newport (8 August). A great naval battle was about to take place, when a violent storm arose and dispersed the two fleets. After a short sojourn in Boston harbour, he sailed to the West Indies where he took St. Vincent and Grenada (4 July, 1779) and badly damaged Admiral Byron's fleet. His attempts to retake Savannah, in concert with the Americans, were unsuccessful; a severe wound obliged him to give up the enterprise. On his return to France, in 1780, he fell into disfavour at the court. Three years later, however, he was placed at the head of the Franco-Spanish fleet assembled before Cadiz, but peace was signed and no operations took place. He was then made a grandee of Spain. When the French Revolution broke out, he favoured the new ideas. A member of the Assembly of Notables, he was named commandant of the National Guard at Versailles in 1789, and admiral in 1792. He constantly endeavoured to protect the king, and at the trial of Marie Antoinette in 1793 spoke in her favour. He was charged with being a reactionary and was sent to the scaffold, 28 April, 1794. In his moments of leisure, he wrote a poem, "Le Rêve" (1755), a tragedy "Les Thermopyles" (1789), and a book on the colonies.


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