Bougainville, Louis-Antoine de

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Bougainville, Louis-Antoine de

BOUGAINVILLE, LOUIS-ANTOINE DE. (1729–1811). French explorer, Admiral. Born in Paris as the son of a notary, Bougainville early entered the Black Musketeers, published a book on integral calculus (1752), and became secretary of the French embassy in London (1756). During the Seven Years' War he was captain of dragoons and served as Montcalm's aide in Canada, where he assisted in the capture of Fort Oswego and Fort William Henry. He was promoted to colonel in 1759. In 1760 he defended Île-de-Noix at the mouth of Lake Champlain. After 1763 he was named a ship's captain in the navy; established a colony in the Falkland Islands for Acadians (1763–1765); and made the famous, two-year voyage of discovery around the world (1767–1769) that resulted in his book, Voyage autour du monde (Voyage around the world) (1771).

When France declared war against England in 1778, he commanded the Guerrier and later the Languedoc in d'Estaing's squadron at Rhode Island and Savannah. In 1779 he was promoted to commander of the squadron. He participated in the September 1781 action off the Virginia Capes. In January 1782, Bougainville captured Montserrat. At the Battle of the Saints in August 1782, aboard the Auguste, he rescued eight ships of his division but was accused by Grasse of misconduct and banished from the royal court. He was a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, the Royal Naval Academy, and the London Royal Society and a knight of the Order of Saint Louis. During the French Revolution, he refused the post of minister of the navy but accepted in June 1792 the rank of vice admiral. He retired in 1793 to his estate in Brie. He became a member of the Institut de France in 1795. Napoleon appointed him senator, conferred upon him the title of count, and named him grand officer in the Legion of Honor.

SEE ALSO Grasse, François Joseph Paul.


Bougainville, Louis Antoine de. Journals, 1778–1782. Beinecke Library. Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

――――――. Adventures in the Wilderness: The American Journals of Louis Antoine de Bougainville, 1756–1760. Edited and translated by Edward P. Hamilton. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964.

Contenson, Ludovic de. La Société des Cincinnati de France et la Guerre d'Amérique. Paris: Editions Auguste Picard, 1934.

Dunmore, John. Storms and Dreams: Louis de Bougainville, Soldier, Explorer, Statesman. Sydney, Australia: ABC Books, 2005.

Kerallian, R. de. "Bougainville à l'Escadre du Comte d'Estaing, 1778–1779." Journal de la Société des Américanistes de Paris. 19 (1927): 155-206.

――――――. "Bougainville à l'armée du Comte de Grasse, Guerre d'Amérique, 1781–1782." Journal de la Société des Américanistes de Paris. 20 (1928): 1-70.

Kimbrough, Mary. Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, 1729–1811: A Study in French Naval History and Politics. Lewiston, Maine: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990.

                        revised by Robert Rhodes Crout