Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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NOAILLES, Louis Marie, Viscount de (no-ay), French soldier, born in Paris, 17 April, 1756; died in Havana, Cuba, 9 January, 1804. He was a brother-in-law of the Marquis de Lafayette, and entered the army in 1771 as major of the Noailles regiment. He was a brevet brigadier-general when he went in 1779 to the United States as a volunteer. He took part in the campaigns of 1779-'81, fought under D'Estaing at Savannah, and at Yorktown was commissioned to arrange with Cornwallis the details of the capitulation. He was elected in 1789 to the states-general by the nobility of Nemours, but, being imbued with democratic principles, he proposed in the night of 14 July the abolition of the privileges of the nobility, and the motion was carried with enthusiasm through his eloquence. He presided over the constituent assembly in 1791, but when the reign of terror began he emigrated to England in May, 1792, and in the following January to the United States, where he lived for ten years. He settled in Philadelphia, where he engaged in banking, and soon made a fortune. He was also admitted to the bar. Early in 1803 business interests made his presence necessary in Santo Domingo, and he sailed for Port au Prince, to find the colony in a state of anarchy. General Rochambeau, his former companion in the United States, was at the head of the French forces , and immediately gave the viscount an important command. Noailles defeated the insurgents in several encounters, stormed Fort Dauphin, and being besieged there afterward by overwhelming forces defended himself for five months. Running short of ammunition, and provisions being almost exhausted, he tried vainly to break through the British fleet, and then tried a difficult enterprise, which succeeded through his boldness. Embarking his troops he awaited the arrival of the English supply fleet, and during a dark night sailed in company with it for some time, reaching Santiago de Cuba in safety. There he made preparation to send his troops to France, and, sailing with 300 men on a brigantine for Havana, encountered at sea an English man-of-war, which he captured after a desperate combat on 31 December, but was mortally wounded during the action. He reached Havana, 1 January, 1804, and soon died. His last battle has been represented on canvas by the marine painter, Jean Gudin.
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