Prévost, Augustin

views updated

Prévost, Augustin

PRÉVOST, AUGUSTIN. (1723–1786). British general. A French-speaking Protestant born in Geneva, Prévost served as a major in the Sixtieth Foot (Royal Americans) on 9 January 1756 and was dangerously wounded while serving under James Wolfe in the Quebec campaign of 1759. On 20 March 1761 he was promoted lieutenant colonel. In 1765 he married Nanette (Ann), daughter of Chevalier George Grand, an Amsterdam banker. Three sons and two daughters survived their father; the eldest, Sir George Prevost (born in New Jersey on 19 May 1767), became governor-in-chief of British North America in 1811 and oversaw the defense of his provinces from 1812 to 1814.

At the beginning of the War of American Independence, Prévost was the British military commander in East Florida. He left St. Augustine on 23 December 1778 with orders to cooperate with Archibald Campbell (who took Savannah from the rebels on 29 December) and take overall command of the British forces in the South. He captured Sunbury, Georgia, after a three-day siege on 9 January 1779, joined forces with Campbell, and on 19 February was promoted major general. While Campbell marched to Augusta, Prévost confronted the combined armies of Benjamin Lincoln and Robert Howe across the Savannah River. An amphibious operation against the rebel coast at Beaufort was beaten off; but on 3 March he annihilated John Ashe's force at Briar Creek, where Prévost's younger brother Marc led the enveloping column. When Lincoln thrust at Augusta, Prévost responded with a lunge at Charleston before withdrawing toward Savannah. Supported by the talented military engineer James Moncrieff, he skillfully held the city against the combined Franco-American attack in October 1779. This victory consolidated the British hold on Georgia, attracted considerable Loyalist support, and damaged Americans' faith in the French alliance. Afterward Prévost returned to Britain, where he died in 1786.

SEE ALSO Briar Creek, Georgia; Moncrieff, James; Savannah, Georgia (29 December 1778); Sunbury, Georgia (9 January 1779).


Mackesy, Piers. The War for America, 1775–1783. London: Longman, 1964.

Van Doren, Carl. Secret History of the American Revolution: An Account of the Conspiracies of Benedict Arnold and Numerous Others. New York: Viking, 1941.

                                    revised by John Oliphant

About this article

Prévost, Augustin

Updated About content Print Article