General Rochambeau by Rachel LePine

   In commemoration of the 234th anniversary of one of the most important events in French-American History, the signing of the French-American Alliance on February 6, 1778 in Paris, the Gunn Memorial Museum will host the lecture Rochambeau in Connecticut and a book signing in the Wykeham Room on Saturday February 4, 2012 at 1pm with Jini Jones Vail, the author of Rochambeau: Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant. A French General’s Role in the American Revolution.

   The Treaty of Alliance with France was a defensive alliance between France and the United States of America, formed in the midst of the American Revolutionary War, which promised military support in case of attack by British forces indefinitely into the future. This signing made France America’s first publicly avowed friend and ally and only with their assistance did America achieve victory over the British and independence.

   Join us for this special presentation recalling the remarkable history of this unprecedented alliance, improbable victory and the true story behind our nation’s incredible birth.

   He arrived in the darkest hours of the revolution. Though he landed in Newport, RI with 5,500 troops, hard currency from King Louis XVI, and an impressive background in military training and experience, Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur Comte de Rochambeau was received with skepticism by the American revolutionaries as he placed himself under the command of General George Washington. Rochambeau and his troops traversed the State of Connecticut on their way to join forces with George Washington in 1781, marching through the local towns of Waterbury, Middlebury, Southbury, Newtown and Danbury. It was difficult at the beginning, but within a year Generals Rochambeau and Washington forged a working relationship and overcame their differences in language, experience, background, and preferred military strategy.

   In her clean and precise style, author Jini Jones Vail uses her copious research to bring to life the vivid details of the merging of their two armies at New York. In the end, it was General Rochambeau who inspired General Washington to agree to march their men the grueling 400 miles to Yorktown, Virginia where they would win an improbable victory against the formidable British forces and usher in the birth of the United States of America. Vail, a scholar in French language and history, is passionate about Americans understanding and appreciating the importance of the honest, loyal, patient and skilled Rochambeau in the success of the American Revolution. As a member of the advisory commission that promoted the establishment in 2009 of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route, stretching from Newport, Rhode Island to Yorktown, Virginia, Jini Jones Vail sees her book as a contribution to the profound historic experience offered by this national historic trail.

   The snow date is Saturday February 11 at 1pm. This event is free and open to the public. The Gunn Memorial Museum is located at 5 Wykeham Road, at the intersection of Rt. 47 and Wykeham Road, on Washington Green. Call the Museum at 860-868-7756 or view for more information