Rochambeau, who points to the Battlefield at Yorktown, Virginia. He stands at the War Tent with Washington and Lafayette October 1781

Jini Jones Vail with the Henri Le Grand copy of the Siege of Yorktown

Jini Jones Vail with the Henri Le Grand copy of the Siege of Yorktown at the newly-opened Museum of the American Revolution (M*AR) in Philadelphia. The painting was restored and framed by the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution and then presented to the M*AR for our enjoyment.

The above image represents my first visit to the M*AR in Philadelphia with my son, Rusty Dyer. This scene is in the atrium of the M*AR looking up to the central painting at the top of the stairs.


A Merry Christmas Message for December 2017!

And Holiday Wishes to Everyone!



The image above is special as it represents a turning point and a verification of battle plans of the principal generals near the close of the American Fight for Independence 1781. It is the result of unity between America and France.

Lest we forget! This is the setting:

In this painting by David R. Wagner, Connecticut’s own painter of the Rev War, we see General Rochambeau on the left and his American counterpart General Washington, on the right examining the map of the eastern United States.

Rochambeau has just received a message from Admiral De Grasse saying that he is on his way north from the French West Indies with the much needed cash, ships and soldier/marines to meet the combined Franco/American Army at the Chesapeake. Once they are all assembled near Yorktown, Virginia, they, along with Lafayette and his army, will force Lord General Cornwallis to back up to the bluff of Yorktown from which there is no exit!

The die is cast at this meeting in Phillipsburg, NY.


Their Christmas celebration that year would be one to celebrate! Raise a glass to King Louis XVI !!

Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!



See you again in in January 2018!

Who knew ….

Who knew that King Louis sent aid to the American rebels in 1777 in the form of  freedom sympathizers, engineers and other military experts.  The Marquis de Lafayette was one, although his first voyage to the colonies was not with the King’s approval. Louis Duportail, an engineer, arrived in America in 1777 to serve in the Continental Army under General Washington. Duportail’s expertise was crucial to Washington in making the decision not to attack New York, but to march to Virginia instead.


King Louis XVI

King Louis XVI

Queen Marie Antoinette

Queen Marie Antoinette










Who knew that King Louis’s generosity in sending the hard currency needed by Rochambeau’s Army while in America contributed to the downfall of the King, his wife, Marie Antoinette, and their family who, for the most part were guillotined in 1793. King Louis and his ministers approved and shipped barrel upon barrel of silver livres to aid the U.S. Continentals during their eight year struggle against the British.


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

Where are you on this August 14th?

I am raising my flag in thanks for the day of decision that happened at Hartsdale, NY, 233 years ago!

Let us never forget.

Original painting  of the Odell House by David R. Wagner, used as illustration in my book: Rochambeau, Washington's Ideal Lieutenant

Original painting of the Odell House by David R. Wagner, used as illustration in my book: Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant


It was the big day of decision for Generals Washington and Rochambeau! We know where they were on August 14, 1781 – at Rochambeau’s headquarters in Hartsdale, NY.  The courier brought the long-awaited message that French Admiral de Grasse was indeed en route for the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia, bringing hard cash, thousands of soldiers and marines, plus a fleet of 29 French ships!

All coming to help America win her independence!!

Therefore, our two fine generals, French and American, were free to decide their strategy.  All deterrents were swept away. Washington took the lead as was his duty and gave the appropriate command to his elder strategist, Rochambeau, that the combined Franco-American Armies don their marching boots and head out in the fierce August heat for Yorktown, Virginia.

A day such as this should be proclaimed in the history books as one of the most important in shared French/American history! The world was turning upside down for the British. Washington, with the help of Rochambeau and de Grasse were about to chart a new course toward freedom and liberty in America! En avant!

West Point and Fort Washington in the spotlight!

Rochambeau researcher on the trail again for DAR history at West Point!

The revolutionary woman I am researching today helped pave the way for Rochambeau’s coming to America. How I love the thrill of the chase! I should be dressed in Sherlock Holmes hat and carrying my lighted magnifier!

I could hardly wait to step onto the grounds of the illustrious West Point Military Academy.  When this destination finally rose to the top of my bucket list last fall, I got out my pad and pen, snatched up my camera and herded my Sherpa into the car of staunch friends to make our way across the mighty Hudson to the Point!

My objective was two-fold. First to view for myself the bends in the river that slowed down the British ships and all ships for that matter, early in the Rev. War. (see my photo above) The hope was to bring the ships into range of rebel artillery fire. As I wrote in my book, Washington and his men decided to impede this passage of enemy ships by installing an enormous, most heavy, chain from shore to shore near West Point to stop the Brits from controlling the all important passageway north to Canada and south to the great port of New York.

The view is breathtaking. Objective number one is accomplished. I will write more about this scene and the chain in a later blog .  Stay tuned for it ~

2 April 1st 2014C

Now for the piece de resistance. The second of my objectives was to find the grave of American patriot, Margaret Corbin, at West Point (see my photo above),  camp follower early in the Rev War. I was hot on her trail, having been steered here by research for my talk titled:  Four Women in the Time of Rochambeau: A Queen, A Countess. A Future First Lady, and A Camp Follower.  Margaret falls into the last category. Most camp followers remain anonymous, but not Margaret, thanks to the DAR.

In my study of Margaret, I found she rendered a great service to her fledgling country of the United States of America. In fact she devoted her life to the cause of our freedom! Yours and mine!!  Yes!!  She followed her husband, John, First Company Pennsylvania Artillery, into battle at Fort Washington, New York City, November 16, 1776.

It was a losing battle for General Washington, much to his chagrin and even more so for Margaret who lost her beloved husband as he worked at his cannon that fateful day. Fatally injured, he expired at her feet.  Brave, devoted Margaret did not miss a beat but stepped up to the cannon to continue firing on the overwhelming enemy, only to  be grievously wounded in her arm, chest and jaw, then sent to a British prison in Philadelphia.

Later she was released. Three years later Margaret was compensated by Congress as the first woman to receive a military pension. Her payment was half of the monthly pay of a Continental soldier plus the cash equivalent of a new “set of clothes”.  All this was in compensation for her exemplary service and bravery. After a difficult life and constant pain from her injuries, she died in 1800 and was buried in Highland Falls, NY, just south of West Point.

Margaret’s story does not end here. In 1928 that the Daughters of the American Revolution, in recognition of Margaret’s role in the American Revolution, had her remains exhumed and re-buried at West Point.  They erected this beautiful monument in her honor.

My small group of four followed the tour guide on foot through the West Point cemetery amidst fallen leaves looking for her marker. Then, we rounded a corner on the footpath, walked under a large tree and finally saw it. Unlike the small white marble grave markers of the many soldiers buried at West point, her monument was a surprise to me. I had to look up to see the top of her monument!

At the pinnacle of the impressive, nearly-white, granite slab is the DAR symbol  in bronze. Under it is the large bronze bas-relief tablet embossed with nearly life-size portrait of Margaret at her station by her husband’s cannon. Now, I am humbly equipped to tell her story, proud of my DAR sisters’ high regard of Margaret’s contribution to the birthing of our nation.

Let us remember Margaret Corbin today.

French Navy to the Rescue!

Today is a day to celebrate American and French history!

august 15Com

On this pivotal day, August 14, 1781, General Rochambeau received the long-awaited message that French Admiral De Grasse was on his way to the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. This event was to alter the course of our shared history.

Washington joined Rochambeau at the Odell House, seen here, French Army headquarters in Hartsdale, New York, to discuss this good news and the plan to march south together to Yorktown, Virginia.

august 15 2Comp

Events finally lined up to the advantage of the Franco-American allies. Washington’s long fight against the formidable British might well come to a successful end in his state of Virginia. The allies would have the all-important support of the French Navy!