Aristide Aubert Du Petit Thouars (31 August 1760 in Boumais – 2 August 1798 in Abukir; often written Dupetit-Thouars) was a French naval officer, and a hero of the Battle of Aboukir, where he died.
He was born on August 31, 1760, in the castle of Boumais, near Saumur.
He studied at the Collège Royal de La Flèche, and entered the French Navy in 1778.
He participated that same year in the Battle of Ouessant.
In 1790, he participated in the conquest of Saint-Louis du Sénégal.
He then served in the Antilles, under Guichen against Rodney on the 80-gun Couronne.
He was at the Battle of the Saintes.
He was promoted to Lieutenant (Lieutenant de Vaisseau) in 1792.
He left that year on board the 12-gun brig Diligent, in search of Jean-François de La Pérouse.
In Brazil, he was imprisoned by the Portuguese, but released in 1793.
After that he lived for three years in the United States.
Back in France, he was reintegrated (he had become destitute as an aristocrat), and was promoted to Captain, commander of the Tonnant at the Battle of the Nile, where he died on August 2, 1798.
During the battle, he forced HMS Majestic to break off combat, with 50 killed, including Captain Westcott, and 143 wounded.
After having lost both legs and an arm, he continued to command from a bucket filled with wheat, until he died.His last order was allegedly to nail the flag of the Tonnant to her mizzen-mast and never to surrender the ship.
The Tonnant was eventually captured by the British.
Source: Biographie maritime ou notices historiques sur la vie et les campagnes des marins célèbres français et étrangers, Joseph François Gabriel Hennequin, Regnault éditeur, Paris, 1835. Tome 3, p. 30 License: CC-PD-Mark PD-Art (PD-old-100)