Louis Guillouet, comte d'Orvilliers

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Louis Guillouet, comte d'Orvilliers.

Louis Guillouet, comte d'Orvilliers (26 March 1708 – 1792) was a French admiral.

D'Orvilliers was born in Moulins, Allier, but spent most of his childhood in Cayenne, capital of the French colony French Guiana, where his father was governor. In 1723, aged fifteen, he joined the colony's infantry regiment and quickly rose to the rank of Lieutenant. In 1728, he transferred to the Navy and, by 1756, had become a captain, commanding one of the ships sent to Minorca under the direction of La Galissonière. He later took part in action near Santo Domingo and the Antilles and was rewarded with a promotion to Vice Admiral in 1764.

Franco-American alliance[edit]

In 1777, France began assisting the American colonies in their fight for independence from Great Britain. D'Orvilliers was appointed Lieutenant-General of the Navy and prepared to engage the Royal Navy in the Atlantic.

His greatest success came in July 1778 during the First Battle of Ushant, when his fleet managed to fend off an attack from a similarly-sized English fleet led by Admiral Augustus Keppel.

The following year, however, he led an unsuccessful attempt to raid the English ports of Portsmouth and Plymouth. Although the weather and crew sickness played a part, he was censured for not making better use of the forces under his command. As a consequence, he resigned his command.

The death of his wife in 1783 affected d'Orvilliers greatly and he withdrew to the Saint-Magloire seminary in Paris. He later returned to the town of his birth, Moulins, where he died in 1792.

The name "Guillouet" comes from the Breton language, a form of Celtic, and means "Man from the wood".