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Did Your French Ancestor Die in a Military Hospital in America?


We have been playing with the ever-improving website of the Archives national d'outre-mer, the National Overseas Archives. It really is important to keep investigating this website; there is nearly always something new and it is rarely announced to the public (except here, of course). Our latest discovery is a set of death registers from French military field hospitals set up in America. (This article from the Journal of the American Revolution explains two of these French hospitals in the state of Rhode Island.) The hospitals included were in:

  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Charleston
  • Hampton
  • New York
  • Norfolk
  • Norwich
  • Williamsburg
  • Yorktown

The years covered are those of crucial battles, 1781 to 1783, (but for New York, which is for the French Revolutionary Wars year of 1795.)

In the past, we have written about the Expeditionary Force, (with links to many sources) about the French aid to the Americans; and about the list of the more than two thousand Frenchmen who died fighting for America. Another list of French dead, "French Army Casualties at Yorktown", can be found on the website of the National Parks Service, on the pages relating to the Yorktown Battlefield.

However, the military hospital registers on ANOM constitute a new and supplementary resource. We checked a few of the names from the registers against the other lists mentioned above and they are not there. Somehow, these poor men, many of them sailors, died in near anonymity. The digitization of these registers retrieves them.


There are field hospital records for China as well, from 1857 to 1862, (roughly the period of the Second Opium War) for the locations of:

  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Shanghai

The registers for the hospital at Suez cover the years 1867 to 1870, when the Suez canal was being built.

The registers for the hospital at Therapia (Tarabya) in Turkey cover the years 1853 to 1856, the period of the Crimean War.

The register for the hospital at Cape of Good Hope (Cap de Bonne-Espérance) is for the years 1782 to 1784 and  concerns men from the French fleet that was occupying the port by way of a little-known extension of the American Revolution.

These all give some information beside the name, e.g. place of birth and the name of the ship or regiment in the registers in America and the Cape of Good Hope. More information, including the parents' names, can be found in the later registers.

A small but wonderful collection that could help you to find an ancestor who was a French soldier or sailor who died far from home. We wish you success!

©2024 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy