Admiral Victor Guy DuperréSuccessful naval commander who won the Battle of Grand Port and defended Venice
Born: February 20, 1775
Place of Birth: La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, France
Died: November 2, 1846
Place of Death: Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe: DUPERRE on the west pillar
The son of a councilor of the king, tax collector, and treasurer of La Rochelle, Victor Guy Duperré studied at the college of Juilly until he was twelve years old. In 1791 he embarked as a pilot on a merchant ship and they worked in the Indian Ocean. Duperré next joined the navy and he sailed aboard the the Maire-Guiton in the Gulf of Gascony until 1794 when he joined the crew of the frigate Tartu. In August of 1795 he was promoted to ensign of vessel and he embarked on the frigate Virginie. On the night of April 21, 1796, Duperré's ship was sailing in the English Channel when they entered combat with a British squadron. Faced with overwhelming opposition, they were forced to surrender on the 22nd. Duperré was taken to Great Britain as a prisoner and he was finally allowed to return to France in December of 1798.
Duperré next served at the ports until November of 1799 when he set sail on the Wattignies. In 1800 he was given command of the corvette Pélagie and ordered to escort convoys off the coasts of France. Duperré was promoted to lieutenant of vessel in 1802 and he sailed with his ship to Senegal, the Antilles, and finally Saint-Domingue. In August of 1803 he embarked as a passenger to return to France, and upon arriving in France he again began working at the ports. Duperré next served on the staff of the flotilla at Boulogne until October of 1805 when he embarked on the vessel Vétéran. On this campaign he sailed with Willaumez and Jérôme Bonaparte to the Cape of Good Hope and then the Antilles. Duperré returned to France in September of 1806 and he was promoted to captain of frigate. Two months later he took command of the frigate Sirène and on March 22nd, 1808 his ship and two other French frigates engaged in battle with two British ships near the isle of Groix. Duperré's ship was grounded on the coast during the engagement but he and his men were later able to extricate the ship and sail to Lorient.
Back in France, Duperré again served at the ports until July when he was given command of Bellone and promoted to captain of vessel. He set sail for the Indian Ocean and made a campaign against the British, during which he seized the brig Victor, the frigate Minerve, and then Windham and Ceylon. In August of 1810 Duperré led the French in the Battle of Grand Port where he was wounded but he emerged victorious against the four British ships. Nevertheless, the British arrived with a stronger force later that year and took Île de France and Duperré surrendered with the other French forces.
Duperré was returned to France where he was named a Baron of the Empire. In 1811 he was promoted to rear admiral and then he took command of a light squadron in the Mediterranean. Next Duperré took command of the French and Italian forces at Venice and he defended Venice from the Austrian forces until well after Napoleon's abdication in April of 1814. He finally surrendered Venice under the terms of the convention of Schiarino-Rizzino signed in April. The restored Bourbons named Duperré a Knight of Saint Louis and when Napoleon resumed power in 1815 for the Hundred Days, Duperré served as maritime prefect at Toulon. Duperré was unemployed until 1818 when he resumed a successful naval career.
Updated May 2019
© Nathan D. Jensen