Lot 28: Rosily - French Naval Commander

Sold: $125

East Coast Books

May 10, 2017
Ships from Wells, ME, US

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Description: [FRANCE - NAVAL] François Étienne de Rosily-Mesros (1748-1832) French naval commander of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. He is notable as being chosen by Napoleon to succeed Villeneuve as commander of the combined Franco-Spanish fleet at Cadiz fleet, arriving to take up his appointment just after its defeat at Trafalgar. His name is inscribed on the east side of the Arc de Triomphe. His father the comte de Rosily was a chef d’escadre and was commanding the Brest fleet in 1762 when he admitted François as a garde de marine. From 1762 to 1769 François completed his apprenticeship at sea in several varied campaigns, visiting Rio de Janeiro, Newfoundland, Hispaniola and the Antilles. He became an enseigne de vaisseau in 1770, on a ship commanded by Kerguelen. Under Kerguelen he then went on a surveying trip along the French coast before setting out on a circumnavigation of the globe whose aim was to research the unknown 'Terra Australis' for France. On 13 February 1772 it was believed he had discovered it and Rosily was sent out in a launch to reconnoitre it. On the launch's return, however, Kerguelen's frigate had disappeared. Miraculously rescued by the fluyt Gros-Ventre, Rosily travelled on her for 8 months and finally reached France in 1773. He left immediately afterwards to rejoin Kerguelen, who was by then once again on his way out east in an attempt to find the 'Terra Australis' and rescue Rosily. Rosily caught up with Kerguelen at Mauritius, where he was put in command of the corvette Ambition : this voyage lasted 14 months. On Rosily's next return to France, at the end of 1774, he rushed to visit the ports of Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland, bringing back several inventions and materials of use to the French navy, such as chain pumps. He rose to lieutenant de vaisseau in 1778 on the lugger Coureur, with which he patrolled the English channel under the command of la Clocheterie, commander of the frigate Belle-Poule. On 17 June that year Belle-Poule was attacked by the Royal Navy frigate Arethusa and the 14-gun cutter Alert. Rosily did not hesitate to attack the Alert and saved the Belle-Poule despite the Coureur being completely dismasted, holed on all sides and finally forced to surrender. He was awarded the croix de Saint-Louis for this action and returned to Brest in February 1780. In May 1780 he took command of the frigate Lively. He then served as lieutenant en pied, in 1781, on board the ship of the line Fendant, before exchanging this command for that of the frigate Cléopâtre and rallying to the bailli de Suffren's squadron at Trincomalee. When peace and American independence came, hostilities in the Indian Ocean ceased and the bailli de Suffren's fleet returned to France. The following year Rosily was promoted to capitaine de vaisseau. Offered here is a brief Autograph Document Signed [ADS], Brest 1778, approx. 7 x 4 in. Not translated. VG. Quite scarce on the market.
Condition Report: VG
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