America The Ungrateful

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That same year America was at war with Britain again, and Lewis took command of his own ship, the Peacock . In April 1814 he made history by taking the British brig Epervier off Cape Canaveral. Congress eventually awarded him a gold medal for having captured nineteen vessels. When he died, in October 1851, Lewis Warrington was the U.S. Navy’s chief of ordnance.

His father had gone on to join Napoleon’s army in 1802, became a brigadier in 1807 and a baron of the Empire in 1808, and served in Spain, Germany, and Russia. Then in the spring of 1814 he went over to Napoleon’s enemies and was promoted to lieutenant general. He had settled down to marriage, with a seventeen-year-old Irish girl named Caroline MacNamaraHussey, in 1790, and in 1816 he retired with her to his estate at Baugé, where he died early in 1837.

In the summer of 1930, 150 years after Lauberdière had stepped ashore in Newport, one Josiah S. Maxcy, of Gardiner, Maine—the last American, apparently, to have given much thought to the comte—visited Baugé. He found the castle in disrepair and Lauberdière’s tomb neglected. A tablet on the wall and a tulip tree, brought from America as a sapling in 1783 and now grown to four feet in diameter, were the sole reminders of Lauberdière’s participation in the “immense and glorious event.”