Grasse-Rouville, François-Joseph-Paul de
Grasse-Rouville, François-Joseph-Paul de (1722-1788) French Naval Commander: De Grasse served in the French Navy from childhood, and was a squadron commander during the 1779 and 1780 campaigns in the West Indies and North America. At the critical battle of Yorktown, de Grasse brought the French fleet from the Caribbean to Chesapeake Bay, where he joined the Franco-American Army. Cornwallis was trapped at Yorktown, and the British Navy had insufficiently reinforced the line of ships at New York. Later that year, de Grasse defeated the British relief force at the Battle of Virginia Capes. Back in New York, the British home fleet was out-numbered by the French, Spanish, and Dutch fleets, and Cornwallis surrendered before help could arrive. De Grasse returned to the West Indies, and was defeated in 1783 at the Battle of the Saintes. De Grasse was sent to England as a prisoner of war, and the British government used him to carry an important diplomatic message to France.