L'epine, Augustin François

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L'epine, Augustin François

L'EPINE, AUGUSTIN FRANÇOIS. (?–1782?). (also known as des Epiniers or des Epinieres). French volunteer. A nephew of Beaumarchais, he claimed to be a captain in the French service and received a commission from Silas Deane on 5 December 1776. He traveled from Nantes on the Mercure with his commission and a stock of his uncle's works for sale in America. Congress hesitatingly approved his commission as a captain on 21 August 1777, and he was sent to Washington's army. He served with Lafayette in Albany during preparations for the aborted Canadian expedition.

Congress promoted him to major on 2 February 1778 "in consideration of the services rendered by his uncle" and his own effectiveness. Laurens wrote to Duponceau that this promotion may have been too hasty. He was aide-decamp to de Kalb and then to Steuben. On 4 December 1778, Congress granted him a leave of absence for six months to Europe, but since he was unable to leave, he requested and received an extension on 24 September 1779. He was caught in the indecision of whether to choose his military career or his business, because Beaumarchais's American agent Francy had gone to France. Despite Steuben's better judgment, he promised L'Epine in the spring of 1780 that he would save his place as aide.

Unsuccessful in his commercial mission and military career, he appears to have returned to France, to the displeasure of his uncle and the scorn of friends. It appears that after several attempts at suicide, L'Epine finally succeeded.

SEE ALSO De Kalb, Johann; Lafayette, Marquis de; Laurens, Henry; Steuben, Friedrich Wilhelm von.


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Deane, Silas. The Deane Papers, 1774–1790. 5 vols. New York: New-York Historical Society, 1886–1890.

Ford, Worthington C., et al. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1904–1937.

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–.

Laurens, Henry. The Papers of Henry Laurens. Edited by Philip M. Hamer, et al. 16 vols. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1968–2003.

Smith, Paul H., et al., eds. Letters of Delegates of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789. 26 vols. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1976–2000.

                            revised by Robert Rhodes Crout