The Last Pirate in the Cemetery

Captain Dominique You

Table of Contents

For those who say pirates never existed in New Orleans, that the buccaneer myths are overplayed, and that Jean Lafitte was not as much of a notable figure in New Orleans proper; for all the lack of evidence, there does remain folklore and hard evidence: a pirate sleeps in St. Louis Cemetery Number Two. A strange sight, that of a Masonic tomb in a Catholic cemetery, where the housed remains of a man known as “the corsair of the Gulf” and “the terror of the Caribbean” was laid to rest with all the fanfare and honor of a military funeral for that of a revered hero.

Captain Dominique You

Captain dominique you
Credits: Louisiana Digital Library

The pirate in St. Louis Cemetery Number Two was the right-hand-man and favorite lieutenant to the pirate brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte. Captain Dominique You, who was often called Capitaine Dominique by the French, has a grave, which is marked by his name, a Masonic symbol of the square and compass and is easy to find in the large, sequel to St. Louis Cemetery Number One. Offerings of tobacco, in the form of cigarettes, are often seen left on the gravesite. 

The man within the stuff was legend incarnate, a cut-throat pirate captain, a gunnery expert to be feared on the open waters of the New World. Within his ashes and remains rests a soul that was indicted in 1814 by the United States Grand Jury for piracy. His criminal record would remain intact, yet less sullied by his offering to be a hired gun for the U.S. to defeat the British during the infamous War of 1812.

Role in New Orleans History

Battle of new orleans
Battle of New Orleans. Credits: U.S. Army

The man feared by many in Central and South America, and throughout the islands of the Caribbean, was pardoned by special proclamation of President James Madison. He took the path of peace and the straight and narrow after the pardon. He never married but devoted his life, late in years, as a member of the New Orleans City Council. Members of the city council never knew that he was part of a crack team of buccaneers and pirates that helped to save the city from British attack during the Battle Of New Orleans, 1815. He seemed like a man seeking to shield his pirate days and swashbuckler ways from all of those who only knew him as a notable member of polite society, admired by those first identifying as “Americans”, who ventured to New Orleans after the war of 1812, when Louisiana became part of the United States.

The old buccaneer who had led a secret life also had a very public death at the age of 55 in 1830. Though he didn’t die in public, but rather at home on the corner of Love Street and Mandeville Street (now N. Rampart and Mandeville in the Marigny neighborhood). His death was made notable in the daily papers as the old writers and editors of New Orleans never forgot the name of Dominique You and his history that had served the city of New Orleans well. 

Captain dominique you

With that, the city council of New Orleans sought repay a debt of gratitude to the fallen hero, who had served under Pirates and Presidents. A reluctant politician, the city council gave their colleague and constituent a hero’s funeral march and procession in St. Louis Number Two. It was rumored that Jean Lafitte or his brother Pierre Lafitte had a hand in the epitaph upon the placard which adorns the tomb to this day. The original words that the world shall remember, which were chiseled into the marble in the French language, can now be read in the English language as well.

Those words still haunt the visitor, who might pay respects with a head engulfed in 18th century adventure, leaving them at the door of the pirates tomb never permitted to enter the dream of Dominique You. The epitaph on his tomb reads:


“Intrepid warrior on land and sea
in a hundred combats showed his valor.
This new Bayard without reproach or fear
Could have witnessed the ending of the
world without trembling.”

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