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Anza, Juan Bautista de (07 July 1736–19 December 1788), military commander, explorer, and governor, was born in the presidio of Fronteras, Sonora, Mexico, the son of Juan Bautista de Anza, commandant of the post since 1719, and María Rafaela Becerra Nieto; his grandfather was commandant of Janos presidio, Chihuahua. Anza’s father was killed in combat in 1739, but Anza continued in the family tradition, and on 1 December 1752 entered the militia at Fronteras. On 1 July 1755 he was promoted to lieutenant at Fronteras, and, after participating in Indian campaigns in Sonora, he rose in 1760 to the rank of captain and commander of the presidio at Tubac (in present-day Arizona). On 24 June 1761 he married Ana María Pérez Serrano of Arizpe, Sonora, but no children were born of the union....

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Bouligny, Dominique (23 August 1773–05 March 1833), soldier, planter, and U.S. senator, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Francisco Bouligny, the lieutenant governor of Louisiana, a colonel in the Fixed Louisiana Regiment, and the acting governor of Louisiana, and Marie Louise le Sénéchal d’Auberville. He spent his childhood in the comfort that his father’s influence and wealth provided. Surrounded by a large extended family and a full complement of house servants, Bouligny developed a strong attachment to his family, an even stronger admiration for the military that commanded his father’s devotion, and pride in being a citizen of Spain. Louisiana offered few opportunities for the sons of army officers outside of military service. Sons of officers entered the army at an early age, and as a senior officer in the Fixed Louisiana Regiment, Bouligny’s father arranged an appointment for his twelve-year-old son as a cadet in the regimental school in March 1786. His father’s influence assured Bouligny’s rapid promotion to the first officer rank of sublieutenant at the age of fourteen....

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Buade, Louis de (22 May 1622–28 November 1698), French soldier and courtier, was born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the son of Henri de Buade and Anne Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain, aristocrats. On his father’s side he was descended from the old nobility of the sword and on his mother’s from the ascending nobility of the robe. His father, comte de Frontenac, baron (later comte) de Palluau, and colonel of the Régiment de Navarre, was highly regarded by Louis XIII, who stood as godfather to the infant Louis at his baptism....

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D’abbadie, Bernard-Anselme (1689–08 October 1720), fourth baron of Saint-Castin and French officer, was born at Pentagoet on Penobscot Bay along the Maine coast, the son of Jean-Vincent D’abbadie de Saint-Castin and Pidianske (Marie-Mathilde), daughter of the Abenaki leader Madokawando. The D’abbadies had been a minor noble family in southwestern France for three centuries when, in 1654, Louis XIV awarded Bernard-Anselme’s grandfather the title of baron of Saint-Castin. Bernard-Anselme’s father had come to America in 1665 as a thirteen-year-old ensign in the French army and had developed friendships with the American Indian inhabitants near his station at Pentagoet. He was eventually adopted as their kinsman, married Pidianske in a Catholic ceremony in 1684, and emerged as a major Abenaki leader by the 1690s. Jean-Vincent’s dual status as a French baron and son-in-law of Madokawando as well as the success of Abenaki military operations enhanced his influence among the Abenakis and his prestige among both French and British colonial officials. Jean-Vincent journeyed to France in 1701 to confront a variety of longstanding legal suits and to settle personal affairs, and he died there in 1707....

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Denys de la Ronde, Louis (02 August 1675–25 March 1741), French military officer, explorer, and spy, was born in Quebec City, Canada, the son of Pierre Denys de la Ronde, a landowner and merchant (the Crown had given the aristocracy in Canada permission to engage in trade), and Catherine Leneuf de la Potherie. He entered naval service in 1687 as a midshipman in France. During the war of 1689–1697 he served in exiled British king James II’s expedition to Ireland, then off the coast of England, and finally on several voyages to New France and along the coast of New England. Captured at sea in 1695, he was soon released in an exchange of prisoners of war. He served in ...

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Dumont de Montigny, Jean-François-Benjamin (31 July 1696–1760), officer in the French colonial military in Quebec and Louisiana, historian, and memoirist, was born in Paris, France, to Jacques-François Dumont and Françoise Delamare. His father was a magistrate in the parlement of Paris, the most important of the French high courts of appeal. He was the youngest of six sons and something of a black sheep compared with his brothers, who achieved prominence as lawyers and priests....

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Comte d'Estaing. British engraving with the caption: "Showing how he cut the Englishmen's heads off." Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-112476).

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Estaing, Comte d’ (24 November 1729–28 April 1794), French general and admiral, was born Jean-Baptiste-Charles-Henri-Hector d’Estaing in Ravel (now the department of the Puy-de-Dôme), France, the son of Charles-François, the marquis de Saillant and a lieutenant general, and Marie-Henriette Colbert de Maulevrier. Typical for adolescents of his social status, he served as an officer in the War of Austrian Succession (1740–1748), reaching the grade of colonel before his twentieth birthday. Early in the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) he was promoted to brigadier and sent to India, where he served for most of that conflict. During the war he was wounded, captured twice, and reached the rank of lieutenant general (25 July 1762) at the age of thirty-two. Following its conclusion he served as governor of Saint-Dominique (Haiti) and became vice admiral in 1777....

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Fabry De La Bruyère, André (fl. 1733–1750), explorer and French colonial officer, , first appears as a commission clerk in French Louisiana in 1733. Nothing is known about Fabry’s birth and parentage. In 1735 he became secretary to Governor Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville...

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Gayoso de Lemos, Manuel (30 May 1747–18 July 1799), Spanish army officer, governor of the Natchez district, and governor general of Louisiana, was born in Oporto, Portugal, the son of Manuel Luis Gayoso de Lemos y Sarmiento, a Spanish consul general, and Theresa Angelica Amorín y Magallanes. Educated in England, he developed a capacity for languages and diplomacy. He entered the army’s Lisbon Infantry Regiment as a cadet in 1771 and began a slow rise in rank....

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Comte de Grasse. Courtesy of the National Archives (NWDNS-19-N-1141).

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Grasse, Comte de (12 September 1722–14 January 1788), French admiral, was born at Bar-sur-Loup (now in the department of the Alpes-Maritimes), France, the son of François, marquis de Grasse, an army officer, and Véronique de Villeneuve-Trans. His given name was François-Joseph-Paul. De Grasse was appointed to the Gardes de la Marine at Toulon in 1734 and received his naval training there and as a page in the Order of the Knight of Malta. During the War of Austrian Succession (1740–1748) he served in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. In May 1747, while in a convoy bound for Canada, he was wounded and made prisoner by the English, but he was exchanged after giving his parole before the war ended. A lieutenant commander at the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War in 1756, he took part in the defense of Louisbourg and was promoted to captain in 1762. Following the peace he served mostly in the Mediterranean. In 1764 he married Antoinette-Rosalie Accaron, who died in 1773; they had six children. While stationed at Saint Domingue (Haiti) in 1776 he married a wealthy widow, Catherine de Pien, who died only four years later....

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Humbert, Jean Joseph Amable (22 August 1767–02 January 1823), French general and military adventurer, was born in Saint-Nabord, Vosges, France, the son of Jean Joseph Humbert and Catherine Rivat, occupations unknown. Older sources list his birthdate as 22 November 1755. Orphaned at an early age, Humbert enlisted as a sergeant in the National Guards when the French Revolution erupted in 1789. Three years later he had risen to lieutenant colonel, Thirteenth Battalion, Vosages Volunteers, and distinguished himself in suppressing peasant rebellions in the Vendée region of western France. A man of indefatigable action, Humbert also campaigned on the Rhine under Jean Charles Pichegru, Jean Victor Moreau, and Charles Dumouriez, and he became brigadier general on 9 April 1794 at the age of twenty-seven. In 1795 he accompanied the famous general Louis Lazare Hoche on a campaign against Royalists on the Quiberon peninsula, Brittany. A British-backed beachhead was crushed on 16 July, and Hoche thereafter accepted Humbert as a personal confidant. Hoche died in 1797, but he was undoubtedly instrumental in having his aide promoted to lieutenant general and entrusted to command an expeditionary force sent to support an Irish insurrection....

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La Vérendrye, Pierre Gaultier de (17 November 1685–05 December 1749), explorer, military officer, and post commander, was born in Trois-Rivières, Canada, the son of René Gaultier de Varennes, a governor of Trois-Rivières, and Marie-Ursule Boucher, the daughter of Pierre Boucher, a former governor of Trois-Rivières....

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The Marquis de Lafayette. Reproduction of a painting by E. Percy Moran, c. 1909. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-4526).

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Lafayette, Marquis de (06 September 1757–20 May 1834), major general in the Continental army and French soldier and statesman, was born Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch Gilbert du Motier Lafayette in Chavaniac, France, the son of Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette, and Julie de la Rivière. After his father, a colonel in the grenadiers, was killed at the battle of Minden in 1759, his mother moved to Paris. The boy was raised at Château Chavaniac in the mountains of Auvergne until he was twelve. He then spent four years at the Collège du Plessis in Paris in a curriculum emphasizing the civic virtues of republican Rome....

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Bienville. Engraving by John Chester Buttre. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100821).

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Le Moyne, Jean-Baptiste (baptized 23 Feb. 1680–07 March 1767), French soldier, explorer, and governor of colonial Louisiana, was born in Montréal, New France, the son of Charles Le Moyne, sieur de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, a provincial nobleman, and Catherine Thierry Primot. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne inherited the title ...

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Le Moyne, Pierre (baptized 20 July 1661–09 July 1706), French soldier, explorer, and governor of colonial Louisiana, was born at Ville-Marie de Montréal, New France, the son of Charles Le Moyne, sieur de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, a provincial nobleman, and Catherine Thierry Primot. The early life of Pierre Le Moyne, known as the sieur d’Iberville, is veiled in obscurity. It is known that he was groomed for naval duty by his influential father through service aboard his father’s ship. In 1683 he was entrusted with Governor Le Febvre de La Barre’s dispatches for the French Crown. It was also in that year that Jeanne-Geneviève Picoté de Belestre’s guardians brought a paternity suit against Iberville, claiming that the young Canadian officer was responsible for her pregnancy. The Conseil Souverain, Canada’s court of last resort, concurred with the plaintiffs and ordered Iberville to support the child until its fifteenth birthday....

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Mézières, Athanaze de (26 March 1719–02 November 1779), soldier and colonial administrator, was born Athanaze Christofe Fortunat Mauguet de Mézières in Paris, France, the son of Christophe Claude Mauguet, sieur de Mézières, an eccentric mathematician and reputable lawyer, and Marie Antoinette Clugny. After Athanaze’s father died in 1734, Madame de Mézières married the marquis de la Haye de Riou, a man of great means who had amassed his fortune partially from his business activities as a slave trader from Saint-Malo and partially from his social contacts at the court of Louis XV, king of France. Conscious of his privileged position in French society, Athanaze de Mézières grew up in the comfort of wealth. At the Collège de Beauvais, where he pursued his advanced education, he was exposed to the whole fabric of the French legal system and excelled in Latin poetry and rhetoric. Trained as a lawyer, Mézières emerged from his upbringing as a brilliant and discerning intellectual whose development was to be irremediably shaped by the Spirit of the American frontier....