Thomas Palmer Musket

This musket, made by Philadelphia gunsmith Thomas Palmer, is believed to have been one of the forty muskets ordered by George Washington in January 1775 for the Prince William County Independent Company in Virginia. The First Continental Congress (September-October 1774) tried to secure the repeal of the “Intolerable Acts” by creating the Continental Association in order to enforce a boycott of British imported goods. Local “committees of safety” were charged with enforcing the boycott, and in many colonies, voluntary military organizations were formed to prepare for possible armed conflict. In Virginia, George Washington played an important role in organizing these military units—known as “independent companies.” Between December 1774 and May 1775, Washington helped to purchase arms, uniforms, flags, and drill manuals for a number of independent companies in Northern Virginia. As one of the most experienced military leaders in the colony, Washington served as commander of these companies, and attended at least six military reviews before departing for Philadelphia in May 1775 to attend the Second Continental Congress. Washington wore the uniform of the Fairfax County Independent Company while attending the Congress, and was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the forces of the United Colonies (later the United States) on June 15, 1775.