Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PLEVILLE LE PELEY, Georges Rene (play-veel), French naval officer, born in Granville, 26 June, 1726; died in Paris, 2 October, 1805. He ran away from school when he was twelve years old, and enlisted as a cabin-boy at Havre, under the name of Du Vivier, on a ship bound for the Newfoundland fisheries. At the beginning of the war of 1742 he joined a privateer as lieutenant, and did good service off the coast of Canada. In 1746 he was taken prisoner by the English near Louisburg, but he was soon released and entered the royal navy as sub-lieutenant under his uncle, Commander Tilly Le Peley. During the war of 1755 he was again employed in Canadian waters, and, as commander of the brig "Hirondelle," forced three ships to surrender in 1759, after a desperate action. In 1770, being stationed in Marseilles, he saved an English frigate which had grounded on a sand-bank in hurricane. The English admiralty presented him with a purse of $10,000, and when afterward, during the war of American independence, his two sons were captured by the English, the admiralty issued orders to release them, In 1778 he became second captain of the "Languedoc," the flag-ship of Admiral d'Estaing, and during the gale that dispersed the French fleet off Newport he saved his vessel. After serving creditably in the attack on St. Lucia, and participating in the capture of St. Vincent and Grenada in the West Indies, he urged D'Estaing, whose confidence he had gained, to utilize the momentary French superiority on the sea in undertaking some great enterprise for the American cause, and was charged with convoying captured English vessels to the United States. The Baltimore merchants were so satisfied with their dealings with him that, after the siege of Savannah, when D'Estaing opened negotiations for a loan of $60,000 to repair his vessels, they consented to advance the sum upon the personal security of Pleville le Peley. This conduct is the more memorable when it is remembered that Lafayette, the acknowledged owner of a large fortune, was able to raise only $10,000 in 1.781 from those same merchants. In the assault on Savannah, 9 October, 1779, he commanded a company, and was conspicuous in his efforts to reform the column when it lost its way in a swamp and became exposed to the British batteries. In 1780 he served under De Guichen, and he fought also at Yorktown under De Grasse in October, 1781. After the defeat of that admiral, 12 April, 1782, he rejoined Vaudreuilles, and served under him till the conclusion of the campaign. He was promoted commodore in 1783, and employed in several cruises in North America. Adopting in 1789 the principles of the French revolution, he was appointed minister plenipotentiary to Ancona in 1795, and afterward given a like mission to Corfu. In 1797 he was promoted rear-admiral, and in March, 1798, vice-admiral. He held also the naval portfolio from April till July, 1798, was created a senator in 1799, and given the grand cross of the order of the Legion of honor by Napoleon in 1804.
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