Our history is filled with little known patriots

I have just learned about the story of a true American patriot.

PRUDENCE CUMMINGS WRIGHT

 

(1740 –  1823)

 

Prudence was born in Dunstable, Massachusetts, and in 1761 she married David Wright. They made their home in Pepperell, MA. Over the years they raised a family of seven while Prudence became known in Pepperell as a leader. Her family favored the patriots as did the others of her town although, in surrounding communities, there were many who remained loyal to the King of England, George III.

By 1773 at the age of 33, the American Revolution saw the first sparks of rebellion burst into flame. The Boston Tea Party aroused fervor around Boston. In Pepperell, the women reacted swiftly by burning their tea in front of the meeting house. Two years later her husband, David and the men of their town were organized as Minute Men and ready to be called up at any time to support the rebel cause.

The women of Pepperell were no less prepared should their men have to leave their homes and their farms to answer the call to arms. It must have been a shock to Prudence and David to discover that two of their daughters were Tories.

 

Early in the morning of April 19, 1775, word was spread that the British were marching toward Lexington. The Minute Men were roused to answer the call. Prudence learned that there was a direct line of Loyalist messengers through Pepperell to Boston. Prudence marshaled the women of her town to do all they could to impede these important messages from going through to the British.

The men had left, and 30-40 women elected Prudence to be their leader. They would dress as men, take what they could find as weapons and meet at Jewett’s Bridge over the Nashua River between Pepperell and Groton, the only crossing for miles. The women knew that the messengers would have to pass this way, so the women vowed to protect the bridge with their lives.

It was necessary for the women to remain hidden so incomers from the north would not see them until the last minute before crossing the bridge. The women hid silently throughout the night until some men were seen approaching. At the last moment, Prudence leaped up with her lantern to demand they halt and state their business. Two men rode up.

One was recognized as a Tory, and the other man, hearing a familiar voice, said: “Wait, that is my sister, Prudence, and she would wade through blood for the rebel cause!” It was Samuel Cummings, Prudence’s brother. The two men were surrounded and led to a nearby house under guard for the night.

The next day they were marched to the town of Groton and eventually given their freedom if they left the colonies. Prudence never saw her brother again. He had been her favorite sibling. Incriminating messages were found on Leonard Whiting. He was taken to the Committee of Safety at Cambridge. There remains a plaque on the famous bridge to this day reminding us of Prudence’s brave role in the Revolution.

 

 

 

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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.