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Guichen, Luc Urbain de Bouëxic, Comte de

GUICHEN, LUC URBAIN DE BOUËXIC, COMTE DE. (1712–1790). French admiral. Born at Fougères, he entered the naval service as garde-marine in 1730, was promoted to ship's ensign in 1735, served in the Atlantic and English Channel during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), and became ship's lieutenant in 1746 and ship's captain in 1756. He was made a chevalier in the Order of Saint Louis in 1748; in that year he successfully fought off British attackers against his Antilles convoy. Rear admiral in November 1776, he served in the naval division under Orvilliers at the beginning of the war. He distinguished himself in the battle off Ushant on 27 July 1779 and was promoted to lieutenant general. In March 1780 he led a strong squadron to the West Indies to relieve Estaing. He met Grasse in the waters around Martinique and fought three battles with Rodney on 17 April and 15 and 19 May. Although Guichen had no victories, he showed skill in handling his fleet and successfully checked the British. After escorting a convoy back to Cádiz, he placed himself under Estaing's orders and set into Brest in September 1780. Guichen was selected the next year to convoy supplies and reinforcements back to the West Indies. British Admiral Kempenfelt, sent to intercept this convoy, struck the transports in the Bay of Biscay in December with many French losses. In February 1782 he left again with a Spanish squadron to escort to Cádiz some reinforcements for the Antilles and Indies and then failed to intercept Admiral Richard Lord Howe's effort to resupply Gibraltar. After the Peace Treaty of 1783, Guichen ceased to sail.

Though Guichen did not directly act in North America, his movements provided a source of hope that the French squadron at Newport might be sufficiently reinforced to venture out of port. Washington and Lafayette appealed to him in 1780 for a joint operation in the south, but to no avail.

SEE ALSO Estaing, Charles Hector Théodat, Comte d'; Grasse, François Joseph Paul, Comte de; Howe, Richard.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Digne, M. "Guichen." In Dictionnaire de biographie française. Edited by J. Balteau, et al. Vol. 16. Paris: Librairie Letouzey et Ané, 1985

Kennett, Lee. The French Forces in America, 1780–1783. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977.

Lafayette, Gilbert du Motier de. Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Documents, 1776–1790. Edited by Stanley J. Idzerda, et al. 5 vols. to date. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977–.

Taillemite, Etienne. Dictionnaire des Marins Français. [Paris]: Editions Maritimes & d'Outre-Mer, 1982.

Washington, George. Writings of George Washington. Edited by John C. Fitzpatrick. 39 vols. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1931–1944.

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Guichen, Luc Urbain de Bouëxic, Comte de

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