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Joseph Plumb Martin's 1830 Memoir of a Revolutionary Soldier gives readers a first-person account of what life was like as an everyday soldier during the Revolutionary War. The Continental Congress officially declared a ‘day for solemn Thanksgiving and Praise’ for Dec. 18, 1777, but Martin was disappointed that this proclamation did not include a special meal with sweet treats. He recalled:

"... we must now have what Congress said—a sumptuous thanksgiving to close the year of high living, we had now nearly seen brought to a close. Well—to add something extraordinary to our present stock of provisions, our country, ever mindful of its suffering army, opened her sympathizing heart so wide, upon this occasion, as to give us something to make the world stare. And what do you think it was dear reader?—Guess.—You cannot guess, be you as much of a Yankee as you will. I will tell you: it gave each and every man a half a gill of rice, and a table spoon full of vinegar!!"

Watch our latest Living History at Home cooking demo as Gallery Interpretation Manager Tyler Putman prepares a simple dish of rice and vinegar that Martin remembered having as a Thanksgiving meal.

Recipe: Joseph Plumb Martin's Thanksgiving Dinner

Serves 4


  • 1 cup rice, cooked
  • 1/4 cup vinegar


  1. Prepare 1 cup of cooked rice 
  2. Pour 1/4 cup vinegar over rice and mix
  3. Serve hot or cold

This Living History at Home cooking demo was originally released online as part of the Museum's virtual Thanksgiving Weekend event in November 2020, featuring make-at-home crafts and a digital discovery cart about Lieutenant Colonel (Joseph) Louis Cook.

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Living History Demonstrations

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Image 100220 16x9 Transparent Rtr Memoir Of A Revolutionary Soldier

Memoir of a Revolutionary Soldier

Read an excerpt from Joseph Plumb Martins memoir describing leaving the safety of home for his first deployment for the American Revolution in 1776.
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Living History at Home: Roasting a Pumpkin

Watch Tyler Putman, Gallery Interpretation Manager at the Museum, demonstrate how to cook a pumpkin, inspired by Joseph Plumb Martin's words.
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