Jini Jones Vail, author, historian,
I have recently published a biography/ military history with a concentration on the final years of the American Revolution. Although I have written a multitude of poems, essays, children’s mysteries and a two woman play about my ancestor, Eleanor of Aquitaine, I had not taken the time and concentrated effort to write a biography until now.
In the early 1990’s good fortune fell my way when I was invited by Michel, the Count of Rochambeau to visit him and Madeleine, his wife, the Countess of Rochambeau, at the family chateau.
When I say family’s chateau, I mean to say that the Rochambeau family have lived in the same great house in France since 1515. And I thought our house was old! Our house was built in 1816. And is nearing its 200th anniversary, a mere infant of a house.. We have a long way to go!
To begin, I am an honest to goodness Francophile through and through, and a member of the Alliance Francaise of Northwest Connecticut. And, at the time of my fortuitous meeting of the Count of Rochambeau, I was a Commissioner on our Governor’s Commission for American and Francophone Cultural Affairs. In other words, I became involved in a multitude of things French in CT.
The most far-reaching project of our Commission was helping to establish the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route. We call it the W3R for short. Since its inception in the mid 1990’s the route that French General Rochambeau marched with His Christian Majesty’s soldiers was found to span more than 700 miles from Newport, Rhode Island, crossing Connecticut, cornering at the Hudson Highlands in New York State where the French and American armies merged to march in the boiling sun to Yorktown, Virginia.
The W3R covers 10 states and became a national historic trail in 2009, signed into law by the President of the United States and is now overseen by the National Park Service. In a word, it is being established as a touristic, educational, fun trail to be followed and enjoyed by people of all ages, much like the Freedom Trail in Boston.
So, I determined that my best contribution to the educational success of the trail would be to write a book about General Rochambeau’s American Campaign, 1780-1782. When I started my research I soon knew that I must write his entire story beginning with his prestigious family history and finishing with this return to France and ultimate death.
I look forward to meeting many like-minded Revolutionary War lovers! Your comments and ideas are welcome!