Hermione at Newport: Part 3 of 4:

Day one afternoon at Fort Adams under the tent as “Guests” (see photos below)

At Fort Adams we were able to get a close up look at the frigate with our Guest stickers on our lapels We gained entrance to the huge tent for special guests.  It was set up at the dock beside the frigate.

Let us not forget that the arrival of the Hermione was a salute to our two countries, France and America, who had been covert friends before the 1776 Declaration of Independence. In fact the French covertly shipped arms and cash via the wealthy Marblehead, Massachusetts, shipping merchant Jeremiah Lee.  His ships picked up war materiel in Spain contributed by the Dutch, the French and the Spanish, right up to the eve of the battle of Lexington and Concord.

This day in Newport, we celebrate the alliance of France and America that has extended over a period of some 240 years at least.  The dignitaries under the tent were many, some in French naval uniform, some in American Naval uniform, along with re-enactors sporting their colors representative of Revolutionary times and the rest of us in our best red, white and blue street clothes. With those three colors, one cannot go wrong as the tricolor is celebrated by both nations.

Represented under the tent were those who gave brief addresses to welcome the Hermione and her wonderful crew. The Naval War College of Newport band played patriotic songs and anthems.

Following the requisite speeches and thanks to the sponsors of this momentous event of huge proportion, we left the tent, hoping for some air to cool our brows. There was not much of that unfortunately. The late afternoon sun was unrelenting. We knew we would be welcomed aboard the frigate, but would have to stand in line even as “guests” that we were, so we opted out due to the incredible heat.

Instead we posed for some photos by the masthead of the ship, a romping lion in coat of gold! This lion had led the way across the Atlantic in peace to make its way up the Atlantic seaboard from Yorktown, where the final battle was fought under the leadership of the stalwart General Rochambeau from France and his commander while in America, General George Washington.

Moi in patriotic dress with Golden Rampant Lion Prow over my Shoulder. Photo: John L. Vail 7/8/2015

Moi in patriotic dress with Golden Rampant Lion Prow over my Shoulder.
Photo: John L. Vail 7/8/2015

 

Photo below with Hermione!

From left to right:  David Beglan and his wife, Mary Conseur; my husband, John Lester Vail and moi.

 

Hermione with David Beglan and wife, Mary Conseur, John and Jini 7-9-2015 August 19th

Don’t we look cool??? Well, we are far from it.  We are in fact, melting before your eyes, while trying to show a stiff upper lip.  The Frigate, Hermione, is really cool however, proudly showing her colors held out by a tiny breeze that seems to have missed the four of us!

We finally left the dock at Fort Adams for the cool of our B&B, the Jailhouse Inn, where we showered and readied for a fine French repast in an air-conditioned restaurant. The four of us dined with David’s brother, Brigadier General (Ret) John L. Beglan an, Jr. his wife, Paquita; my daughter, Heather Woodring and my granddaughter, Jessie Woodring. We even had 2 Society of the Cincinnati families in our number.

That night we chose the four star French restaurant, Bouchard’s. We were seated comfortably at a round table and enjoyed each other’s company for at least 3 hours! The Dover Sole is beyond belief!

Stay tuned for the last segment of our inspiring Newport trip.

 

On This Date in History

Today let’s celebrate with a Vin d’Honneur! It’s time for a special champagne toast to General Rochambeau on his birthday, born July 1st 1725.

Let us fill our Baccarat champagne flutes from the paquebot Liberté with a vin blanc pétillant de Vouvray, and use our commemorative plates created for this occasion by Heather Woodring using the original painting of Rochambeau by my very good friend, Rachel LePine.

In 1781 Rochambeau celebrated his 56th birthday in Ridgebury, CT, en route to join forces with the Continental Army of General George Washington in the Hudson Highlands of New York State.

July 1st 2014

We remember him still, after 289 years of birthdays!

Vive Rochambeau!!

The Custom House in Yorktown, Virginia

Its strategic location, long history and how it relates to General Rochambeau and your blogger, Jini Jones Vail
February 1
This sign marks the wonderfully preserved Custom House on the corner of Read and Main Streets in Yorktown VA. This historic structure has observed history pass by its front door for nearly three centuries. It is only a stone’s throw from the battlefield of the last pivotal battle of the American Revolution. It stands very near the site of the startlingly majestic victory monument raised tall to commemorate the Franco-American cooperation that helped to birth our great nation.In the early 1700’s the lot where the Custom House now stands was owned by Capt. Daniel Taylor. Since Taylor did not build on the lot, it was passed on to George Burton in 1706.After that it was decided that a Custom House was necessary for the mouth of the York River as Yorktown Harbor was the deepest, most navigable harbor between Charleston SC and Philadelphia, PA. Wealthy merchant, Richard Ambler, was appointed Collector for the Port of York. In 1720 he purchased 2 lots where the Custom House now stands, and in 1726 he purchased 2 more lots. He built the brick Custom House and he and his family lived in the wooden home that adjoined it.Toward the end of the Revolutionary War, in 1781, the British Army, under General Lord Cornwallis, occupied Yorktown and used the Custom House as barracks for their troops until the surrender of Cornwallis to Washington and Rochambeau on October 19, 1781.

The building was in the midst of war again during the Civil War. In 1865 the wooden residence to the right front of the building was burned to the ground. At one time thereafter, it is said that pigs lived in the ruins of the cellar.

For the next 40 years the Custom House served as a physician’s office, followed by various uses as school, general store, even  as a bank, barber shop, and housing for military personnel during the first World War.

In 1922 Mrs. Emma Leake Chenoweth established the Comte de Grasse Chapter of  the Daughters of the American Revolution in Yorktown. A building fund was created, and the Custom House property was purchased by the DAR from Mrs. Adele M. Blow, member of the Comte de Grasse. Chapter Fundraisers were held, such as bake sales stand a fancy dress ball. Plays were produced to secure the necessary funds to complete the purchase in 1924.

DAR member Mrs. Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans took over the restoration project and assumed the funding of it on her own. Final results included a walled garden, replicas of original dependencies, and basic structure repair. Finally the building was dedicated in November 1930 and has been open to the public on Sunday’s and holidays ever since.

In 1972 The Yorktown Custom House was designated as one of only twelve historic custom houses extant in the United States. This historic building served as protector of American citizens from 1779 to 1945. It is listed in the Virginia Landmark Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

Every year the Comte de Grasse Chapter of the DAR opens the Custom House to the public on October 19th, the anniversary of the winning of the 1781 Battle of Yorktown under the command of General George Washington and General Rochambeau’s combined Franco-American armies.

In the picture below  Jini Jones Vail, author of Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant, A French General’s Role in the American Revolution, was invited to set up a book table on the Yorktown Day Parade Route in front of the famous Custom House. She was waiting for the parade to begin. It was an exciting time to be there as the Yorktown Day Parade marched by with all the Fife and drums, marching bands and the local Revolutionary War regiments in regimental dress.  Jini and her  husband, John,  had ringside seats for all the action on the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route ( W3R) that day. Jini was grateful for the kindness shown to her, a sister member of the US DAR Trumbull-Porter Chapter of Connecticut.  She hopes in the future to be able to return the favor at a Connecticut  DAR event.
February 1A