Texas State Library and Archives Commission

An Inventory of the Champ d'Asile Research Collection at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Archives, 1817-1818, 1990-2008, undated, bulk 1993-2008



Overview

Title: Champ d'Asile research collection
Dates: 1817-1818, 1990-2008, undated
Dates (Bulk): bulk 1993-2008
Abstract: Champ d'Asile ("Field of Refuge") was a short-lived colony of French Bonapartist exiles founded in 1818 on the Trinity River near the present city of Liberty, Texas. This collection consists of correspondence, publications, research material, manuscripts, maps, and articles pertaining primarily to the history of the Champ d'Asile colony and persons associated with it. Subjects include biographical information on Napoleonic generals Charles Lallemand and Antoine Rigaud, the issue of the precise location of the colony on the Trinity River, and pirate/privateer Jean Laffite's involvement with the French exiles. Material dates 1817-1818, 1990-2008, and undated, bulk 1993-2008. Information dates from 1682 to 2008. Material consists of original and photocopied items.
Quantity: 0.75 cubic ft.
Location: This collection is housed at the Sam Houston Regional Library & Research Center, P.O. Box 310, Liberty, Texas 77575, 936-336-8821.
Language: These materials are written primarily in English and French, with a small amount in Spanish.
Repository: Texas State Archives
Sponsor: This EAD finding aid was created in cooperation with Texas Archival Resources Online.

Historical Sketch

Champ d'Asile ("Field of Refuge") was a short-lived colony of French Bonapartist exiles founded on the Trinity River near the present city of Liberty, Texas, in 1818. These exiles were veterans of the Napoleonic Wars who had fled France after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte and the restoration of Louis XVIII to the French throne.

The idea for an expedition of these French exiles into Texas was apparently conceived by Baron Henri Dominique Lallemand and his brother Baron Charles François Antoine Lallemand, both of whom had been officers in Napoleon's army. They and Baron Antoine Rigaud led two groups of exiles from New York and Philadelphia to Texas in late 1817-early 1818. In Galveston in February 1818, the pirates Pierre and Jean Laffite provisioned and transported the Frenchmen but also reported their activities to the Spanish consul in New Orleans. On March 10, the exiles traveled to the Texas mainland in small boats and ascended the Trinity River to a locale near the present city of Liberty and built their fortress, which they called Champ d'Asile. The exact location of this site is now unknown.

It is not clear what the group intended to accomplish in Texas. Charles Lallemand issued a manifesto claiming that, although organized into military units, they were peaceable colonists dedicated to tilling the soil. However, there is no evidence of their having undertaken agriculture in a serious manner, and lack of food was a major factor leading to the breakup of the encampment. In any case, the officers primarily spent their time building a fortress and manufacturing munitions.

It is likely that there were never many more than 100 officers at the encampment at one time; the roster of those whose names are known amounts to 149. There were also four women, four children, three enlisted orderlies, several servants and laborers, and a few others. The officers were organized into three companies of infantry, foot cavalry, and artillery. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of them were French, and the rest were former Napoleonic army officers of other nationalities. The latter were the most discontented and unstable element of the expedition, and most of the desertions came from their ranks. The French themselves were divided into partisans either of Charles Lallemand or Antoine Rigaud, the second in command, who was in charge during Lallemand's frequent absences.

Learning while away that Spanish troops had been sent from San Antonio to expel the colonists, Lallemand ordered the camp abandoned. By late July 1818, the colonists had returned to Galveston Island in Pierre and Jean Laffite's boats. The following month, George Graham, a United States special agent, informed Lallemand that the American government wanted the French to leave Texas. Lallemand and a few others departed, and Rigaud remained in command. In September a hurricane struck the island, destroying the remaining refugees' shelters and supplies. In October a Spanish officer commanded them to leave and with the Laffites' aid, most of the colonists had departed for New Orleans by the end of the following month.

(Sources include: Kent Gardien and Betje Black Klier, "Champ d'Asile," Handbook of Texas Online, accessed on June 26, 2018, and the collection itself.)


Scope and Contents of the Collection

Champ d'Asile ("Field of Refuge") was a short-lived colony of French Bonapartist exiles founded in 1818 on the Trinity River near the present city of Liberty, Texas. This collection consists of correspondence, publications, research material, manuscripts, maps, and articles pertaining primarily to the history of the Champ d'Asile colony and persons associated with it. Subjects include biographical information on Napoleonic generals Charles Lallemand and Antoine Rigaud, the issue of the precise location of the colony on the Trinity River, and pirate/privateer Jean Laffite's involvement with the French exiles. Material dates 1817-1818, 1990-2008, and undated, bulk 1993-2008. Information dates from 1682 to 2008. Material consists of original and photocopied items.

The Champ d'Asile research collection was created in-house at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center from donations by various individuals and in-house photocopies. The purpose was to gather all research material in the Sam Houston Center collections on Champ d'Asile into one collection for the benefit of patrons as it is a frequent topic of research.

Notable items include an 1818 letter from Bonapartist exile Joseph Lakanal to French patriots intending to settle the Vine and Olive Colony in Alabama; 1817-1818 correspondence from Marshal Emmanuel, Marquis de Grouchy, a Bonapartist exile and officer in Napoleon's army; and two 1818 issues of the newspaper Weekly Aurora of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, containing articles about the Champ d'Asile settlement.


Arrangement of the Collection

Materials are arranged within the folders by topic. Some materials are arranged chronologically by date of donation.

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center reading room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage by staff members.

Restrictions on Use

Under the Copyright Law of 1976 as amended in 1998, unpublished manuscripts are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years. The term of copyright for published materials varies. Researchers are responsible for complying with the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Technical Requirements

Some materials may be too fragile to photocopy. Please see Archives staff for assistance.


Index Terms

The terms listed here were used to catalog the records. The terms can be used to find similar or related records.
Subjects (Persons):
Lallemand, Charles François Antoine, baron, 1774-1839.
Rigaud, Antoine, 1758-1820.
Subjects:
French--Texas--History.
Places:
Champ d'Asile (Tex.).
Texas--History--1810-1821.
Liberty County (Tex.)--History.
Galveston (Tex.).
Document Types:
Articles--Texas.
Correspondence--Texas.
Manuscripts (documents)--Texas.
Maps (documents)--Texas.
Publications (documents)--Texas.

Related Material

The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center
John Clay collection, 1818, 1843, 1850, 1963, undated, about 0.75 cubic ft.
Jean Laffite collection, 1773-1986, undated, bulk 1845-1979, 3.87 cubic ft.
Jean and Price Daniel Texas history collection, 1819-1986, volume unknown [There is no finding aid for this unprocessed collection.]
Jean Epperson archives, 1969-2005, 8.85 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid for this unprocessed collection.]
Marcel Moraud papers, 1857-1975, undated, bulk 1936-1975, 6.5 cubic ft.
Steed, Tanya, "Champ d'Asile: The History of a French Settlement in Texas," unpublished manuscript, 1979, 0.1 cubic ft. [There is no finding aid for this unprocessed item.]
Texas State Archives
Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar papers, 1756-1859, undated, bulk 1821-1859, 19.91 cubic ft.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item), Champ d'Asile research collection. Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession numbers: 1986.139, 1986.292, 1991.133, 1991.185, 1993.083, 1994.210, 1995.072, 1997.155, 1997.189, 2005.197, 2006.150, 2007.117, 2008.094, 2008.181, 2009.035

The Champ d'Asile research collection was created in-house at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center from donations by various individuals and organizations and in-house photocopies. The original donation was made by the Liberty County Historical Commission on June 23, 1986. Additions to the collection were donated by the Atascosito Historical Society on December 31, 1986, and March 31, 1993; Betje Black Klier on July 9, 1991; August 18, 1997; December 1, 2008; and March 18, 2009; John H. Morse on September 25, 1991; Penny Clark on July 21, 1994, March 16, 1995; Martine and Paul Bardon on October 9, 1997; Jean Murph on December 17, 2005; Jean L. Epperson on October 10, 2006, and May 27, 2008; and David Murph on July 14, 2007.

Processing Information

Finding aid by Darlene Mott, 2005

Updated by Lynda Young and Lisa Meisch, 2006

Updated for DACS compliance by Lisa Meisch, June 2017

EAD encoding and description edits by Tiffany Criswell, August 2018


Detailed Description of the Collection

Box
Champ d'Asile research collection, 1817-1818, 1990-2008, undated, bulk 1993-2008,
0.75 cubic ft.
Box Folder-Item
1986.139-1 1 "Account of the French Colony in the Province of Texas, headed Champ D'Asile, Province De Texas, May 11, 1818," about 1947
[Transcription and English translation.]
2 Champ d'Asile scene depicting the colonists planning and building Fort Henri, by A.L. Garneray, about 1993
[Page from Dorothy Sloan Books flyer/pamphlet with image of 1830 print.]
3 Excerpt from "Take Pity on Our Glory: The Men of Champ d'Asile," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. LXXXVII, no. 3, January 1984
[Photocopy. Includes roster of officers at Champ d'Asile.]
4 Jean Simon Chaudron letters, undated
[Transcriptions and English translations of five unsigned letters originally dated dated December 1817, and March, April, and June 1818. Letters contain references to Galvez, Galveston, the Province of Texas, and the locale of the Trinity River. Some transcriptions written in French.]
5 Marshal Emmanuel, Marquis de Grouchy engraving by Henry Wolf, based on the 1818 painting by Jean Sebastien Rouillard (?) in the Museum of Versailles, undated
[Clipping from unknown publication.]
6 Courrier de la Louisiane newspaper article, May 1820 (date of original)
[Photocopy. Negative print. Written in French.]
7 Reports #1, 9, and 10 of Captain Don Juan de Castañeda to Don Antonio Martinez, undated
[Photocopies. Reports of the Spanish governor of the province of Texas concerning Champ d'Asile and log of journey to the lower Trinity between September 16 and November 24, 1818. Spanish transcription and English translation.]
8 Report #9, 1818, of Captain Don Juan de Castañeda to Don Antonio Martinez, undated
[Photocopy. Handwritten English translation.]
9 Testimony given at Bexar by "Sarrassin, Defourni, and Hollzer" on November 24, 1818, concerning the Champ d'Asile settlement, undated
[Photocopy. Handwritten English translation.]
10 "Bonapartist Exiles in America," undated
[Photocopy. Excerpt from French Migration to America, pages 152-158.]
11 "George Graham's Mission to Galveston in 1818: Two Important Documents Bearing Upon Louisiana History," edited by Walter Prichard, originally published in Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Vol. 20, no. 1, 1937, undated
[Photocopy. Typed manuscript excerpted from the article.]
12 "Documents Relating to George Graham's Proposals to Jean Laffite for the Occupation of the Texas Coast," translated and edited by Harris Gaylord Warren, Louisiana Historical Quarterly, undated
[Photocopy. Excerpt from the article.]
13 Correspondence, Marshal de Grouchy to William _______, Eleutherian Mills, Wilmington, Delaware, September 24, 1817
[Original, photocopy, and typed English translation. Original written in French. Other versions are English translations.]
14 Correspondence, Marshal de Grouchy to Mr. Lee, accountant of the War Department, Washington, D.C., February 3, 1818
[Original and photocopy. Original written in French. Other version is a handwritten partial English translation.]
15-1 Gulf Coast Historical Review, Vol. 12, no. 2, Spring 1997
[Includes article, "Peste, Tempestad, & Patisserie: The Pastry War: France's Contribution to the Maintenance of Texas Independence," by Betje Klier.]
15-2 The Consortium on Revolutionary Europe 1750-1850: Proceedings, 1992, Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution, Florida State University, 1993, 1992
[Photocopy. Consists of two excerpts, "Napoleonic Exiles in America: General Count Bertrand Clauzel and The Vine and Olive Colony" by Russell W. Strong, and "The Bayeux Tapestry and the Papier Peint of Dijon, Known As The 'French Wallpaper' in Montgomery, Alabama" by Betje Klier.]
16 Charts showing the organization of Champ d'Asile and nationalities of the colonists, and text of manifesto issued on May 11, 1818, by the colonists, 1995
[Photocopy. Material is from a lecture given by Andy Hall to the Laffite Society on March 13, 1995.]
17 Excerpt from book, Histoire de la Louisiana, by Francois Barbe-Marbois, pertaining to Champ d'Asile in Texas, 1829 (date of original)
[Photocopy. Written in French.]
18 "Jean Laffite is Back," by Audrey Walls Lloyd, Texas Parade, July 1960
[Includes an excerpt from the alleged Jean Laffite journal that references Champ d'Asile.]
19 Correspondence from Joseph Lakanal to French patriots who intended to settle the Vine and Olive Colony in Alabama, July 18, 1818
[Original, photocopy, and typed versions. Original written in French. Includes brief biographical sketch of Joseph Lakanal.]
20 Excerpt from Victor Jacquemont, Letters to Achille Chaper: Intimate Sketches of Life Among Stendhal's Coterie, Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society, 1960, undated
[Photocopy. Typed transcription. Pertains to Charles Lallemand.]
21 Portion of the Arsène Lacarriére Latour archives, about 1997
[Photocopies. Written in French and consists of 30 documents, including letters from Charles and Henri Lallemand, with an accompanying description listing dates and subject.]
22 Le Champ-d'Asile, Au Texas, about 1820 (date of original)
[Photocopy. Written in French. Publication pertaining to Champ d'Asile.]
23 Le Champ d'Asile, Tableau Topographique et Historique du Texas, about 1819 (date of original)
[Photocopy. Written in French. Publication pertaining to Champ d'Asile.]
24 Correspondence from "Petry" (?) to unknown recipient, and one page in English (partial translation?), December 21, 1818 (date of original)
[Photocopy. Written in French. Pertains to Champ d'Asile.]
25 L'Héroine Du Texas, Ou Voyage De Madame Aux Etats-Unis Et Au Mexique, 1819 (date of original)
[Photocopy. Written in French. Publication pertaining to Champ d'Asile.]
26 "French Explorers, Pioneer and Social Reformers in Texas (1682-1860)," Marcel Moraud, Magazine of the French Legion of Honor, undated
[Photocopy.]
27 Correspondence, Antonio Martinez to (Joaquin de) Arredondo, with cover letter from Virginia H. Taylor, Texas General Land Office, to Mrs. Ben Pickett, Liberty County Historical Commission, 1966
[Photocopies. Martinez-Arredondo correspondence are English translations and reference "Callao de Gallardo" (probably Champ d'Asile). Originals date 1818.]
28 Lecture transcript, "Champ d'Asile," by Marcel Moraud, Chairman, Department of Romance Languages, Rice Institute, undated
[Photocopy. English translation by Thomas G. Rice.]
29 Manuscript, "The Search for Champ d'Asile," Jean Murph, undated
[Originals and photocopies. Includes maps and other research material.]
30 Additional maps and research material included with "The Search for Champ d'Asile," by Jean Murph, undated
[Photocopies.]
31 Member's Bulletin, The Napoleonic Society of America, October 1990
[Includes article, "The Sacred Fire in Texas," John Morse, pertaining to Charles Lallemand, Jean Laffite, and Champ d'Asile.]
32 Excerpt from travel guide publication, New Orleans, 1994
[Photocopy. Pertains to the Napoleonic exiles and their influence in the city of New Orleans.]
33 "Physical Descriptions of Champ d'Asile," 1966
[Photocopy. List of publications and unpublished works, compiled by Ellen Pickett.]
34-1 "Extracts from Letters from the French Colony of Trinity River in the Province of Texas," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Vol. IV, July 1900-April 1901 (date of original)
[Photocopy.]
34-2 "Last Filibustering Expeditions and Independence, 1817-1820," from Our Catholic Heritage in Texas: 1519-1936, Vol. VI, Transition Period: The Fight For Freedom 1810-1836, 1950 (date of original)
[Photocopy.]
34-3 "Champ-d'Asile," publication unknown, undated
[Photocopy. Excerpt from article.]
35 Two lists of Champ d'Asile resources compiled and revised by Ellen Pickett, 1966, 1969
[Photocopy. Includes cover letter to Hal Jensen from Ellen Pickett regarding archeological dig to occur on October 18, 1969.]
36 Liberty County Historical Commission research files and correspondence pertaining to Champ d'Asile, 1951, 1955, 1964-1971, 1974, undated (dates of original material)
[Photocopies.]
Box Folder-Item
1986.139-2 1 thru 3 Liberty County Historical Commission research files and correspondence pertaining to Champ d'Asile, 1951, 1955, 1964-1971, 1974, undated (dates of original material)
[3 folders]
[Photocopies.]
4 Biographical articles on Antoine Rigaud from French publications:
4-1 Article from Biographie Nouvelle des Contemporains, ou Dictionnaire Historique et Raisonné de Tous Les Hommes Qui, Depuis La Révolution Française, Ont Acquis de la Célébrité par Leurs Actions, Leurs Écrits, Leurs Erreurs Ou Leurs Crimes, Soit en France, Soit Dans Les Pays Étranger, Paris: A La Librairie Historique, Hôtel d’Aligre, 1825 (date of original)
[Photocopy. Written in French.]
4-2 Article from Nouvelle Biographie Générale Depuis Les Temps Les Plus Reculés Jusqu'a Nos Jours, Et L'indication des Sources a Consulter, Paris: Firmin Didot Freres, Fils et Cie, Editeurs, 1863 (date of original)
[Photocopy. Written in French.]
5 Excerpts from Autour de L'Aigle Enchaine; Le Complot du Champ d'Asile, undated
[Photocopy. Written in French.]
6 Correspondence, William C. Tompkins, postmaster of Moss Bluff, Texas, to Herbert E. Bolton, October 30, 1907 (date of original letter), undated
[Photocopies. Pertains to Moss Bluff, Texas, and a Spanish settlement in that location. Includes maps, research material, and transcribed deed records.]
7 "A Visit To Galveston Island by J. Randall Jones in 1818," undated
[Photocopy. Typed manuscript, transcribed by Philip C. Tucker. Describes Jones' visit to Galveston in 1818, with references to Jean Laffite, General Charles Lallemand, and Champ d'Asile.]
8 "Where Was Champ d'Asile?," Jean L. Epperson, Laffite Society Chronicles, Vol. 5, no. 2, August 1999
[Photocopy.]
9 Champ d'Asile articles by Jean L. Epperson:
9-1 "Callo (Cayo) de Gallardo," April 15, 2005
[Typed manuscript.]
9-2 "The Cannon of Champ d'Asile," July 30, 2006
[Typed manuscript.]
9-3 Two hand-drawn maps depicting Castañeda's route along the Trinity River in Liberty County, Texas, September 2006
[Photocopies.]
10 "New Orleans Field Trip," Jim Nonus, Laffite Society Chronicles, Volume XII, No. 2, October 2006
[Photocopy. Pertains to Laffite Society meeting and presentation on Champ d'Asile in New Orleans, September 19, 2006.]
11 Email, Jonie Smith to various Champ d'Asile researchers, November 13, 2006
[Includes a transcription of a revised version of a translation of Captain Don Juan de Castañeda's log and report by Adan Benavides.]
12 "The Location of Champ d'Asile: A French Fort and Settlement on the Trinity River in 1818," James Woodrick, May 2008
[Typed manuscript.]
13 First Empire: The International Magazine for the Napoleonic Enthusiast, Historian, and Gamer, July-August 2008
[Includes article, "The Influence of Jacques-Louis David on the Envisioning of Champ d'Asile in 'The Toast,'" by Betje B. Klier.]
14 "The Toast," by Jacques-Louis David, depicting uniformed men at the Champ d'Asile settlement drinking a toast, undated
[Two lithographs, reproductions.]
15 Two Champ d'Asile scenes from book, Chansons de P.-J. de Béranger, Anciennes et Posthumes, 1866 (date of original)
[Photocopy. Scenes depict colonists meeting with Native Americans and doing manual labor.]
16 Document from the Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar Papers at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin, Texas, pertaining to Champ d'Asile, undated
[Photocopy.]
17 "Champ d'Asile," The Analectic Magazine, Vol. 13, 1819 (dated of original)
[Photocopy.]
18 Correspondence to Hon. J. Delalande, French National Committee, New Orleans, Louisiana, from an unknown correspondent from the School for Personnel Services, Lexington, Virginia, January 12, 1945 (date of original)
[Photocopy. Pertains to Delalande's interest in and research on Champ d'Asile.]
Oversize Folder
Box 17 1 Weekly Aurora, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 4, 1818, December 21, 1818
[Two issues. Both issues include articles pertaining to the Champ d'Asile settlement.]