Grasse, François Joseph Paul, comte de (fräNswäˈ zhôzĕfˈ pōl kôNt də gräs) [key], 1722–88, French admiral. In 1781, in command of a French fleet sent to cooperate with the Continental forces in the American Revolution, he defeated a British naval force under Admiral Hood and captured Tobago. Then he came N to Virginia at the request of generals Washington and Rochambeau. There he used his fleet to blockade the York and James rivers, thus bottling up General Cornwallis at Yorktown. He outmaneuvered and defeated a British force under Admiral Graves, and men from his ships also took part in the land fight. His efforts led to the great victory of the Yorktown campaign. After the Revolution was won, Admiral de Grasse was severely defeated (1782) by the British under Admiral Rodney in the West Indies.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.