Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant

IS AVAILABLE ON KINDLE!

Look for a paperback  on Amazon!

 

NOW FOR ANOTHER REVIEW:

By Susan K.:

5 out of 5 stars

A Great Read for All Ages!

 

Jini Jones Vail has written a most appealing historical account of France’s General de Rochambeau’s role in the American Revolution. In the Preface (p.XXI) she says, “the research and writing of distant history is not an exact science” yet her scholarly research, evidenced by notes, glossary and bibliography, gives the reader a wonderfully readable historical account of the relationship between Rochambeau and Washington as the American War for Independence moves down the eastern seaboard to Yorktown, Virginia.

Though Jini Jones Vail’s audience must not be limited to “east-coasters” those who do reside along the eastern seaboard will find charming references to towns, homes and perhaps ancestors with whom Rochambeau visited. The past comes alive as do the personalities of Rochambeau and Washington through anecdotes and the personal correspondence between them. They have become men whom you might have or wish to have known.

Even knowing the final outcome of the war, it is unfolding in this most enjoyable book that pushes one to turn pages to accompany Rochambeau on our country’s journey toward independence.

Still Another Unsung Hero of the American Revolution!

What a stunning surprise from this brave man who helped us!

Pierre-Auguste-Canon de Beaumarchais

Pierre-Auguste-Canon de Beaumarchais

Pierre-Auguste-Canon de Beaumarchais

He was a French dramatist and a covert defender!

Beaumarchais did not fit the mold at all. He was, therefore, never suspected as he carried on his undercover work to aid America~ Here is a little about him taken from p. 308 in my book from the section I call: Key Participants.  There is more on Beaumarchais on pages 36, 37, and 154.  Enjoy!

French dramatist who wrote The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro. He encouraged King Louis XVI to become involved in the American Revolution on the side of the colonists. On April 26, 1776, he learned of the king’s decision to aid the insurgents. He sent volunteers, munitions, and supplies covertly to America through the Rodrigue Hortalez Company.

More in 3 weeks!  Keep tuned to this station!

Voila Another Frenchman who helped America behind the scenes during the Revolutionary War!

Do you know him?

Julien-Alexandre Achard de Bonvouloir

Once again, in the early days of the American Revolution, in the year 1775, Bonvouloir (even his name signifies a man of good will), served the American cause!

Let us remember!

Only a few months after the untimely death of Colonel Lee in Massachusetts in August 1775, Vergennes, “acting on the advice of his ambassador in London, approved the sending of a secret messenger to the American Continental Congress. Julien-Alexandre Achard de Bonvouloir was the man chosen for the job. His “mission was a major turning point in both American and French diplomacy.

When he reached Philadelphia in December 1775 he found as a ready audience the newly appointed Committee of Secret Correspondence. Between December 18 and December 27, Bonvouloir met three times with the committee  December 27, Bonvouloir met three times with the committee, including Benjamin Franklin, at Carpenters’ Hall.

The meetings went extremely well. The committee posed several leading questions to Bonvouloir, asking “if France were disposed favorably toward the Americans, if she would send them two good army engineers, and if she would sell them arms and war supplies in her ports. They also expressed their need of naval support. Bonvouloir gave positive responses to all their requests. In his December 28 report to Versailles he enthusiastically wrote, “Independency is a certainty for 1776.” When Vergennes received news of the success of the meeting, he “proposed a major shift in French policy toward the American Revolution.

There was growing excitement in France for the sake of American liberty. In response to the request of the Continental Congress to Bonvouloir, volunteers were encouraged to serve in America, and many answered the call.

This excerpt is from my book: pp. 35 and 37 Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant, A French General’s Role in the American Revolution

Follow-up on the arrival of Hermione, Newport July 2015

Hermione Highlights in Newport: Lafayette’s Freedom Frigate Part 1 of 4:

An Unrelenting Francophile Also Arrives in Newport!

The arrival of Lafayette’s Freedom Frigate has been awaited breathlessly by me for 20 years. I am a nut about anything and everything French, so this is an event­ not-to-be- missed! For ages I had been getting letters, construction up-dates on the building of the 1780 Hermione replica, brochures and postcards of the finally-finished frigate from my friend, Lily, in France. All these publicity materials built up on my desk to a dizzying height.

An Hermione look-see was rising to the top of my to-do list for this July. I simply had to convince my husband to drive to Newport and spend 3 days taking in all the Lafayette military events and VIP luncheons we could cram into our short stint by the sea. After all, Newport was a key component in the history I had written on Rochambeau and his American campaign. I could, as they say, kill two birds with one visit. I knew Lafayette way before I knew Rochambeau. Lafayette was my first love as a hero on two continents way before Rochambeau eclipsed him.

I cajoled my daughter and my granddaughter from Cape Cod into joining us along with 4 others from as far away as New Jersey. Nearly everyone in our group professed at least a passing interest in history.

My daughter, on the other hand, after working with me to edit my military history on Rochambeau, shyly confessed to me when finished, that she really did not even vaguely like history!! This admission came after we had spent multi hours each week over 3 ½ years, editing my book on the phone between Connecticut and Massachusetts! One of us had to be crazy about something to hand on that long!

Anyway, here we were in Newport with her precise list of the events and iPhone in hand. We got up at the screech and broke out of the Jailhouse Inn in the center of old Newport to make our way to the first stop. Trinity Church.

We ambled up to the front door only to find that it was guarded by the legendary Rhode Island Regiment in their unmistakable white uniforms. I spoke with their commander whom I met at an earlier re0enactment, posed for a few photos with the soldiers and entered the church.

July 18th 2015

There was to be a dedication inside followed by a memorial ceremony outside by the grave of French Admiral de Ternay.

I remember him well. He played an important part in the early section of my book.

De Ternay commanded the 40 ship convoy to a safe harbor at Newport after a 70 day crossing. Rochambeau sailed with him on the flagship. The Admiral did his part in bringing about the last turning point of the American Revolution. He deserves to be remembered.

When we four entered the church, my daughter said we should look for Washington’s pew at the front, which we did. We mogged along behind her and seated ourselves at the front of the church beside the raised lectern. The pews were reminiscent of those at Paul Revere’s Old North Church in Boston, with tall sides and a door opening into each pew. We settled in to wait for the action.

In a few minutes there was a tap on my shoulder. Someone said, “Would you mind moving back just one pew please? This one is reserved for General Rochambeau.” I assented, and we happily removed ourselves to the next pew.

Presently a man in fine French military regalia slipped quietly into Washington’s pew.

This was truly an unexpected opportunity for me, always ready to step back in time to make conversation with one of the characters in my book.

Wasn’t this the reason I came to Newport after all? Here was a real live Rochambeau up close and personal.

I asked my daughter to take a few close-up pics of the General and myself as I   deftly stepped forward to greet him. Not knowing if he spoke French or English, I began in French and found him most agreeable. I believe he welcomed my company as sitting alone in the midst of a large crowd can make one uneasy. I asked him if he was American. He said, “presque” (“almost”) I did not inquire further, thinking that perhaps he had moved here, but was not fully acclimated.

He intimated that he was new at re-enacting the part of Rochambeau. One would not have guessed that since his uniform was perfect in every way. I was puzzled that he did not remove his tricorne hat in church.

I felt that it was more than opportune that I should be seated next to the object of my biography and told him of my having written his bio. He was shocked into silence. We exchanged business cards and, I returned to my pew after we posed together for the required photos for my second burgeoning scrapbook on the subject of the general himself .

After the short dedication to de Ternay ( and Rochambeau ( the former alive here and the latter buried outside) by the female Canon of Trinity Church, we marched out first-row-first, with the four of us just behind the General.

As we reached the door it popped into my head that as the General had risen to his feet to lead the procession to the graveyard, I could not help but notice that he was super tall and narrow of build, more like a George Washington than that of the shorter, stocky, Rochambeau. One cannot expect true-to-life at the last minute.

Outside our front pew General in his handsome black leather knee-high boots stood at the head of the oversize wide, long, flat stone that more than covered the grave of Admiral de Ternay. Rochambeau removed his hat for the playing of taps and the singing of the French and American national anthems. The Canon spoke a eulogy, the Admiral of the Navy War College of Newport extolled de Ternay’s valiant effort, and the Commander of the Rhode Island Regiment placed a wreath of delicate white flowers on the gravestone below the Latin inscription.

We stood with hands over our hearts during the anthems, sorry for the fact that the French admiral who did a yeoman’s job of avoiding capture by the British on the high seas to land his 5,500 Special Expeditionary French forces on friendly soil in Newport almost 235 years ago to the day, would die after only 5 months into his land mission in America.

Next episode: Viewing the Hermione sail into Newport

Long live our shared history! America and France

Let’s take a look at Williamsburg, VA.  Where did General Rochambeau, Commander of French Army reside while in Williamsburg? How long was he there with his Army?

During the siege of Yorktown Rochambeau occupied the Peyton Randolph House, now beautifully restored as a part of Colonial Williamsburg. See photo below.

January 15th 2015-1.jpeg

Following the successful siege of Yorktown until the departure of the French on June 23, 1782, General Rochambeau made his headquarters at the George Wythe House. See below.

January 15th 2015

I visited both the Peyton Randolph and Wythe Houses on a fine fall day several years ago. It is exciting for me to tour these once-private homes where so much history happened. I salute Colonial Williamsburg!

For more info on these houses and the unexpected and rarely-recorded events that occurred in Williamsburg at the close of the American Revolution, I invite you to explore Chapter 10 and chapter 11 in my book: Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant, A French General’s Role in the American Revolution.
Why not plan a trip to Williamsburg and Yorktown for October 19? You will see the largest re-enactment of the Rev War at that time. Enjoy!!!

(Images: compliments of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

On This Day in American/French History:

Yorktown, Virginia 1781

“On the morning of October 17 the fighting stilled  at 10 o’clock when out of the musket smoke a small  drummer boy in a red coat stepped up … and began to drum out a message indicating parley.”

Artist: David R. Wagner

Artist: David R. Wagner

The British had finally sent out the white flag!

The last full out battle of the American Revolution was finished. Six years of war might be at an end. Generals Washington and Rochambeau had won against all odds at Yorktown.

Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant

Hello this Labor Day Weekend!   Let me introduce you to my book
 
             Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant, 
       A French General’s Role in the American Revolution
book cover frontI thought you might like to see what I worked on for 5 1/2 years, and below is a brief summary of the content. I hope that reading this account will whet your appetite to read the entire book. I have attempted to fill in what most history books of the American Revolution omit, the enormous part played by America’s first real friends, the French and the Spanish.

My friends tell me that this history book reads more like a novel than a dull, dry account and it’s a page-turner!  I love hearing this as we all know the ending of the American Revolution, but the real, true story that led to this conclusion, turns out to be more thrilling!

Beginning and ending with Rochambeau, my book traces his early life in the bosom of his military ancestors through his participation in multiple European sieges, recognition by King Louis XVI for valor in battle, and his late night summons from the king to prepare to lead an American expedition, a “special delivery” of French troops and hard currency to aid the revolutionaries.

Although Washington’s cause for liberty neared failure, upon his arrival in Rhode Island, Rochambeau was received with skepticism even as he placed himself under the command of General Washington, seven years his junior, an ocean’s distance from his king  and home

Over a little more than a year’s time Rochambeau and Washington forged a working relationship in spite of their differences in age, background, experience, and preferred military strategy.  Eventually they merged their two armies on the Hudson Highlands of New York having determined that without the aid of France’s navy, their mission to oust the British would fail.

Patiently waiting for events to fall into place, most importantly for the French navy’s arrival at the Chesapeake, Rochambeau, who spoke little English was thousands of miles from his normal supply lines, displayed patience and sound judgment in convincing Washington to take the final battle of the American Revolution to Virginia.

Rochambeau’s 700 mile march to victory in Virginia is laced with personal accounts of American and French officers and soldiers who braved the hazards and deprivations of their nearly three year campaign over what is now named The Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, aka the W3R.

My biography/military history concludes with Rochambeau’s return to France, his involvement in the French Revolution, narrowly missing the guillotine’s blade, followed by the honors bestowed on him by king and emperor and finally his quiet retirement and death in the peace and quiet of his ancestral home, the Chateau de Rochambeau.

I wish you hours of true enjoyment learning about the birthing of America ~


Jini Jones Vail, Author
Rochambeau: Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant, A French General’s Role in the American Revolution