New Witness to Revolution: The Unlikely Travels of Washington's Tent special exhibit now open. Info & Tickets

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Among His Troops: Joseph Wright’s Portrait of George Washington

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Among His Troops: Pierre Charles L’Enfant

In 1782, Pierre “Peter” Charles L’Enfant, a French-born Continental Army engineer, created the panoramic watercolor views of the army’s encampments at Verplanck’s Point and West Point. The son of an artist, L’Enfant studied at the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Paris. He crossed the ocean to volunteer for America. In 1778, during the Valley Forge winter, he received a commission as captain of engineers. Unsatisfied with such a technical role, L’Enfant went south in hopes of distinguishing himself in combat. In 1779, he fought at Savannah, Georgia and was badly wounded in the leg. He rejoined the army in 1780, and fought while leaning on a crutch during the Siege of Charleston, South Carolina. Taken prisoner with the rest of the Charleston garrison in 1780, L’Enfant missed the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. When he painted these watercolors in 1782, he was still nursing hurt feelings that he had missed the chance for glory and promotion at Yorktown. After the siege of Yorktown, L’Enfant returned to the Continental Army, and wrote to Washington from Philadelphia on February 18, 1782, asking for a promotion. He then moved with the army from Philadelphia to the Hudson Highlands in the spring of 1782.
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Among His Troops: Anne-César, chevalier de La Luzerne

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Among His Troops: Society of the Cincinnati badge

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Among His Troops: Maps of West Point and the Hudson Highlands

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Among His Troops: Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Polish Engineer  

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Among His Troops: View of Verplanck’s Point from the Hudson River

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Among His Troops: Map of the Verplanck’s Point Encampment

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Among His Troops: French Officers at Verplanck’s Point

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Among His Troops: Discovery

The Museum of the American Revolution’s newly discovered watercolor of the encampment at Verplanck’s Point is one of two known panoramic views of the Continental Army in camp, both of which army engineer Captain Pierre Charles L’Enfant created in 1782. When the Museum’s curators first saw the watercolor of Verplanck’s Point for sale at auction, they immediately saw similarities to L’Enfant’s panorama of West Point owned by the Library of Congress. An investigation of other original sources—diaries, letters, army orders, and maps—helped date both scenes to a narrow time period of three months, August through October 1782. Further study of the Verplanck’s Point watercolor’s provenance and a small ink inscription on the back confirmed that L’Enfant painted it during the Revolutionary War. The Museum’s discovery provides modern audiences with a glimpse into the highest professional moment of the Continental Army, the artistry of Pierre Charles L’Enfant, and a new eyewitness view of George Washington’s war tent. 



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