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May 1776 handwritten receipt by Plunkett Fleeson documenting George Washington's order for new tents and camp equipment.
Receipt, written by Plunket Fleeson, May 4, 1776, George Washington Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
I cannot take the field without Equipage & after I have once got into a Tent I shall not soon quit it.
George Washington, March 3, 1776

Constantly facing criticism and stressful wartime situations, General George Washington needed to balance authority with equality as a leader representing the American people. Washington quickly realized that critics would judge him not only by his actions and words, but also by the clothing he wore and the equipment he used. When he purchased tents for himself in 1776, his choices were modest. He ordered two marquees — another word for a big tent — one for dining and meetings, and one with inner chambers for sleeping and office spaces. A third smaller tent would be used for storing equipment. These tents formed his headquarters complex.

Philadelphia upholsterer Plunket Fleeson made those tents for General Washington. Fleeson’s shop stood at the corner of Fourth Street and Chestnut Street, a block away from where the Museum of the American Revolution is today. Even before the Revolutionary War began, Fleeson produced military items such as tents and flags for American officers. 

In 1778, Washington ordered a new set of marquees because the tents that Fleeson made seem to have worn out due to heavy use. Craftspeople working for the Continental Army made the new set of marquees for Washington in Reading, Pennsylvania. General Washington’s sleeping and office marquee, made in 1778, is on display in the Alan B. Miller Theater at the Museum of the American Revolution.

Examine the details on this receipt signed by Plunket Fleeson to learn about the tents and camp equipment that he made for General Washington. The original receipt is now in the collection of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

May 1776 handwritten receipt by Plunkett Fleeson documenting George Washington's order for new tents and camp equipment.
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Dining Marquee
Fleeson made a “large Dining Marque” that Washington used for hosting meetings and shared meals with officers.

Marquee with Inner Chamber Tent
Fleeson made a “large Marque with a Chamr tent of ticken, Arch’d” that Washington used as a sleeping quarters and private office space. The inner chamber tent, made of ticking (a twill-weave linen), separated the interior of the marquee into rooms and provided some insulation.

Baggage Tent
Fleeson made a “large Baggage Tent” that Washington used for storing equipment.

Hooks and Eyes
The “Large hooks & eyes” are iron clasps that were used to suspend the canvas walls of the marquees.

Tent Poles and Finials
Fleeson made “3 Sett tent poles jointed & painted” for Washington. Each tent pole broke down into pieces to be more easily transported. “Turned tops painted” refers to the finials that adorned the top of each tent pole.

Tent Pins
Fleeson made 12 dozen “tent pins,” or stakes, out of wood for Washington.

Valises
Fleeson made “2 Valleezes” out of leather for Washington. Also called portmanteaux, these luggage pieces may have been used to transport Washington’s bedding or personal belongings.

Camp Stools
Fleeson made “18 wallnut camp Stools” for Washington. The stools could be folded and stored when not in use.

Witness to Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington's Tent, open through Jan. 5, 2025, brings to life the stories of individuals from all walks of life who saved George Washington’s tent and fashioned this relic into a symbol of the fragile American republic.

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A recreated of an end of Washington's tent displayed with his camp bed and additional camp items.
 

Witness to Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington's Tent

Now Open Through January 5, 2025
Witness to Revolution, now open through Jan. 5, 2025, brings to life the journey of George Washington’s tent from the Revolutionary War to an enduring symbol of the American republic.
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General George Washington's Revolutionary War headquarters tent on display at the Museum
 

Washington's War Tents

Explore the cornerstone of the Museum's collection, General George Washington's Revolutionary War Tent, and the handsewn, full-scale replica of his field headquarters.
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Washington Field HQ Sleeping Marquee Exterior View
 

Virtual Tour of Washington's Field Headquarters

Explore the Museum's handsewn, full-scale replicas of General George Washington's Revolutionary War sleeping, dining, and baggage tents through 360-degree images in our Virtual Tour of Washington's Field Headquarters.
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