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Marquis de Sercey Papers

Identifier: MSN/EA 0512

Scope and Contents

The documents in this collection relate to a particular episode: the burning of Cap Français (now Cap Haïtien) in June 1793, during the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804). The most substantial item, from 2 August 1793, is a sixteen-page description by Rear Admiral Sercey of the events of late spring and summer that culminated in the burning of the city and the flight of several thousand white colonists from the island. The other items are related to this incident, including a letter from Sercey to General Galbaud about the difficulties he faced in finding a military ship appropriately equipped to act as an escort for a supply ship out of the harbor; a petition from forty merchant ship captains and officers to Sercey asking for his assistance in leaving the harbor with goods and refugees from the city; and a draft of a letter from Sercey to the colonial commission describing his report of the events at Cap Français along with notes for the same report.


  • Creation: 1793


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Pierre César Charles Guillaume, Marquis de Sercey was born at the château du Jeu near Autun in east-central France on 26 April 1753. He went to sea at age 13, serving aboard ship in the Caribbean and in the Indian Ocean, and with the gardes de la marine on Mauritius. Sercey participated in the expedition that discovered the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean in 1772. After gaining the rank of ensign in 1777, he fought in a number of battles in the European and American theaters of the American Revolutionary War, including the siege of Pensacola. He was captured by the British in June 1780 and exchanged in October of the same year. From 1787 to 1792 he served in the West Indies. He gained the rank of capitaine de vaisseau in 1792 and contre-amiral (rear admiral) in January 1793. That year, aboard Éole, he commanded a division of four frigates based at the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue. He was arrested on his return to France in November 1793 because of his aristocratic background, but regained his rank with the institution of the Directory in 1795. He then was sent to Mauritius to command a French division in the Indian Ocean. His time there ended in 1799 when the last of his ships was destroyed by the British. He returned briefly to France in 1802 but political pressure drove him back to Mauritius after his retirement in August 1805. He married there and lived as a planter until the island was taken by the British in 1810. He returned to France and to military service, and was made a vice-admiral in 1814 and a peer in 1832. He died in Paris on 10 August 1836. His name is engraved on the western face of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.


4 folders.

Language of Materials



Four manuscript documents relating to the battle at Cap Français in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, 20-23 June 1793. All the documents are written by or to the Marquis de Sercey, a French rear admiral, aboard Éole in Cap Français harbor.


The collection is in four folders, with one item per folder.

Marquis de Sercey Papers
Kathryn Rose Sawyer
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556