Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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VAUQUELIN, French naval officer, born in Caen, France, in 1726; died in France in 1763. At the age of ten he entered the naval service under his father. In 1745 he gained a victory over an English frigate off Martinique, and in 1754 he was employed in reconnoitring the English ports, and performed this mission with such sagacity that he was given the command of the "Arathuse," and sent with re-enforcements and military stores to Louisburg, Cape Breton. He was entirely successful, but he determined to do more for the French colony, and, seeing that advantage could be derived from the possession of a bay in front of which English vessels had to pass, he took up a position in it. He was attacked by a superior force, but fought his ship until most of his crew were wounded. Then he retired under the cannon of the fort, repaired his vessel, and, having with difficulty obtained the governor's consent, he escaped through the English fleet and sailed for France to obtain aid for the colony. This feat excited the admiration of the English officers, and especially of Admiral Boscawen, but met with no adequate reward in France, where the highest commands in the army and navy were considered to belong to the nobility solely. However, he was given command of three frigates, and, in spite of the vigilance of the English fleet, sailed up St. Lawrence river, placed his vessels in a position of security, and, with part of the crew, re-enforced the garrison in Quebec. This succor delayed the capitulation for several days, but after the French reverses of 13 September he foresaw that the city must soon surrender, and he resolved to make an effort to save his frigates. Escaping from Quebec with a few followers, he reached his vessels safely, and at once set sail. He had scarcely reached the mouth of the St. Lawrence when he was attacked by a superior force. After a heroic defence, his ship became unmanageable. Determined to sink with his vessel rather than surrender, he allowed his crew to escape, and remained alone on board his ship, which he set on fire, but the English commander, moved by his heroism, saved him. When he returned to France he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. But he had enemies who were jealous of his elevation, and after an important mission on which he was sent to India, he was arrested and confined to his house. He was released after four months' detention, and was about to appear before the king" in order to defend himself, when he was assassinated.
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