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Fall at the Museum

The Museum's special exhibition and events this fall offer visitors of all ages the opportunity to explore the American Revolution's ongoing relevance.
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Finding Freedom: London - Portrait of Brigadier General Benedict Arnold

London served as a trumpeter in the American Legion, a Loyalist force formed by British Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. This portrait by an unknown artist shows Arnold in his British Army uniform. In the fall of 1780, just a few months before London joined the American Legion, Benedict Arnold infamously defected from the Continental Army and joined the British. 

Courtesy of Clive Hammond

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The Davenport Letters: January 20, 1781

James Davenport continued to serve with the Continental Army through the fall and winter of 1780, including witnessing the execution of captured British spy Major James André. He was back in camp at West Point, New York, in January 1781. As this letter indicates, winter encampments could be long, dreary affairs for an army of young men anxious for action or to return home. In this letter, James reflects on thoughts of desertion (writing that “we Shall go out of Camp without Leave & forget to return half of the time”), meager rations, and a lack of pay. Continental soldiers, just like British and Hessian soldiers during the war, were formally entitled to food, clothing, and payment as part of their military service. But in practice, the Continental government struggled to produce the money necessary to pay soldiers. Many went months or even years without receiving any, and by January 1781 James Davenport noted that it had been thirteen months since their last pay was received.

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The Davenport Letters: May 22, Year Unknown

This letter does not include a year. James Davenport’s letters and his memoirs indicate that he was at West Point in May 1779, 1780, and 1782, so it is unclear in which year he wrote this one. John Davenport, who transcribed this letter in the 1850s, numbered it as the second letter, between Isaac How Davenport’s two, but James was at Valley Forge, not West Point, in May 1778.

James Davenport was born in 1759 and apprenticed to a local shoemaker. In 1776, he enlisted in a militia unit and then in the Continental Army in February 1777. In April 1777, he began several months of campaigning in New York that eventually took him to the Battle of Saratoga in September. He spent that winter at Valley Forge with the main Continental Army, where, according to his memoir, “huts and cells were built to dwell in during the winter, as commodious as place and circumstances would allow.” After a brief illness and recovery away from camp, he was inoculated for smallpox, as a result of which he “had a siege of it; but I came off conqueror.” In 1778 and 1779, he fought at the Battle of Monmouth, endured a series of illnesses, and saw active service in New York before gaining a furlough in December 1779.

In this undated letter, he complains about the minimal daily rations that Continental soldiers sometimes received: in this case, half a pound of bread, a gill (four ounces, or half a cup) of peas, and “a little stinking shad,” a type of fish. May was a hard month in army encampments because there was little fresh food available, and stores put up the previous summer and fall would be running low and spoiling.

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Picturing Washington's Army: Verplanck’s Point | 1st Connecticut Brigade

Take a closer look at the decorated tents of two Connecticut regiments. These tents paralleled a road that led from Verplanck’s Point to Peekskill, New York.

Image: Museum of the American Revolution, Gift of the Landenberger Family Foundation 

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Picturing Washington's Army: Verplanck’s Point | Massachusetts Brigades

Take a closer look at the tents of the Massachusetts regiments, visible in the background of the painting. A couple officers’ marquee tents are also visible in this section of the watercolor. 

Image: Museum of the American Revolution, Gift of the Landenberger Family Foundation 

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Picturing Washington's Army: Verplanck’s Point | Parade Ground

Take a closer look at the area where the Continental Army showed its professionalism to the French. The tents of the New York and New Jersey troops are visible here, as well as Stony Point across the Hudson River.

Image: Museum of the American Revolution, Gift of the Landenberger Family Foundation 

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Picturing Washington's Army: Verplanck’s Point | 2nd Connecticut Brigade

Take a closer look at the line of tents of the 2nd and 4th Connecticut Regiments. Structures made of brush are visible in front of the line of tents. The structures provided shade for the soldiers and decoration for the camp. 

Image: Museum of the American Revolution, Gift of the Landenberger Family Foundation 

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When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: When Women Lost the Vote: A Tableau Interactive

In the core exhibition at the Museum of the American Revolution, a scene of three life-size figures recreates what it might have looked like when women voted in a state election held on October 13-14, 1801 in Montgomery Township, Somerset County, New Jersey. You can read more about the tableau here and click the button below to explore the scene in detail!
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Picturing Washington's Army: Verplanck’s Point | Rhode Island Regiment

Take a closer look at the anchor-decorated colonnade of the Rhode Island Regiment. The Rhode Islanders’ tents were set up between the Massachusetts and Connecticut brigades. An officer’s marquee tent is visible in the foreground of this section of the painting. 

Image: Museum of the American Revolution, Gift of the Landenberger Family Foundation 

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