Behind the Strokes of Historical Paintings: Breaking Down Xavier della Gattas Battle of Germantown Painting
For the past 60 years, the image shown below has puzzled historians. Created by Italian artist Xavier della Gatta in 1782, the painting vividly and accurately depicts the 1777 Battle of Germantown, part of the Philadelphia Campaign of the American Revolutionary War. Della Gatta, however, never set foot in America. Why did Xavier della Gatta choose to paint this battle and how was he able to depict it so accurately? Careful detective work has revealed answers in the life of Richard St. George, who fought with the British Army at the battle. St. George also provided the eyewitness details for della Gatta's Battle of Paoli painting.
Richard St. George worked with Italian artist Xavier della Gatta to create the painting of the Battle of Germantown. The painting, which is part of the Museum's collection and was on display in the Museum's special exhibition Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier, merges different actions into one scene, including the moment Richard St. George was carried off the battlefield after he suffered a devastating head wound.
Learn more about Xavier della Gatta's Battle of Germantown painting in our collection as well as his Battle of Paoli painting that he produced with the help of Richard St. George. Explore more about Richard St. George and his work with Italian artist Xavier della Gatta that was featured in the Museum's special exhibition Cost of Revolution: The Life and Death of an Irish Soldier.
Finding Freedom: Andrew - “Soldiers in Uniform”
This French officer’s depiction of American soldiers at the Siege of Yorktown shows a soldier of African descent from the Rhode Island Regiment of the Continental Army. During the Revolutionary War, Black and White soldiers fought alongside one another on both sides of the conflict. Historians estimate that between 4,000 and 8,000 men of African descent served in the Continental Army. In 1778, Rhode Island offered freedom to enslaved men in exchange for service. It created a regiment with privates of African and Native American ancestry, officered by White men. In 1781, the Rhode Island line was collapsed from two regiments into one integrated unit with segregated companies.
Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library
When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Upper Penns Neck Township, Salem County, New Jersey Poll Lists, 1801
Upper Penns Neck Township
Salem County, New Jersey
October 13 & 14, 1801
Ink on Paper
This poll list is from an October 1801 state election that was held at the home of Philip Souder, an innkeeper in Upper Penns Neck Township, Salem County. The election determined annual officeholders for the New Jersey State Assembly and Legislative Council, and for the Salem County Sheriff and Coroner. The town officers presiding over the election included Judge Joseph Borden, Assessor Jacob Wright, Clerk Isaac Ward, and Collector Philip Curriden.
The poll list includes the names of 115 total voters. At least eight of these voters are women, accounting for about seven percent of the voters on the list.
We assume Upper Penns Neck Township, like the rest of Salem County, voted Democratic Republican in the October 1801 election, but we do not know which candidates the township voters supported due to a gap in historical records.
Note: The names recorded on this poll list were written by an election official, not by the voters themselves. The spelling of each voter’s name on the poll list may be different compared to how that same person’s name is spelled in other historical records and by the Museum of the American Revolution.
Images: Salem County Historical Society
Finding Freedom: Jack - Patrick Lockhart’s Letter to Thomas Nelson
Patrick Lockhart of Botetourt County, Virginia, wrote this letter to Virginia Governor Thomas Nelson in November 1781 to ask for state assistance to recapture Jack, who had escaped from prison earlier that year. Lockhart described that Jack was heavily armed and “Threatening Revenge” upon the people who had first imprisoned him. In April of 1781, Jack was arrested, brought to court, and found guilty of trying to start an uprising among people of African descent who would join the British to battle the American Revolutionaries. One day before his planned execution, Jack escaped from jail and White residents of Botetourt County, such as Patrick Lockhart, feared for their lives. Considering this fear, the accuracy of Lockhart’s claims in this letter is unclear.
Courtesy of the Library of Virginia
Finding Freedom: Deborah - “Inspection Roll of Negroes,” Book 1, Page 4
These pages are from a British Army document called the “Inspection Roll of Negroes,” written in 1783. Deborah’s name is recorded on the left side of the first page near the bottom. The second page records that she was formerly enslaved by George Washington. The “Inspection Roll of Negroes” records the roughly 3,000 formerly enslaved men and women whom the British evacuated from New York City at the end of the Revolutionary War. Most of these people, such as Deborah, settled in Canada with assistance from the British. Deborah is recorded below her husband Harry, who was enslaved to a Loyalist named Lynch. Deborah and Harry boarded the ship “Polly” bound for Port Roseway (now Shelburne) in Nova Scotia, Canada.
ational Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC
Finding Freedom: Deborah - Lund Washington’s List of Runaway Enslaved People
This handwritten list records the names of the 17 enslaved men and women who left Mount Vernon in search of their freedom with the British in 1781. The list includes 16-year-old Deborah. Lund Washington, General George Washington’s cousin and farm manager, frequently updated General Washington about Mount Vernon during the Revolutionary War, including reports of the British raid on the estate in 1781. Lund Washington’s list of enslaved people who left in 1781 records that seven people were captured and returned to Washington after the British surrender at Yorktown. Deborah escaped.
Courtesy of Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association
Finding Freedom: Eve - Randolph Household Inventory
Following Peyton Randolph’s death in 1775, York County, Virginia, officials recorded this inventory of his possessions. The names and values (in pounds) of the enslaved people he owned are recorded on pages four through ten of the inventory. Eve’s name is listed on page five of the inventory, while her son George’s name is listed on page four. Eve and another woman named Betty were assigned values of 100 pounds each, the highest values among the enslaved women recorded in the inventory. These high values suggest that Eve and Betty worked in the Randolph home. Eve’s status may have changed following her attempt to escape from the Randolph family with her son in search of freedom. At least two handwritten copies of this inventory survive. The other copy includes the notation “gone to the enemy” next to the names of Eve and George, referring to when they first ran away from the Randolph family in search of their freedom in late-1775 or early-1776.
This historical record is dedicated to the Museum of the American Revolution by the York County-Poquoson Circuit Court, Authorized by the Honorable Kristen N. Nelson, Clerk
When Women Lost the Vote: A Revolutionary Story: Tableau Interactive
Here, three women gather at the Rocky Hill Inn in Montgomery Township, Somerset County, New Jersey, for a state election held on October 13-14, 1801. Two white women hold ballots to vote, as was the right of property-owning women in New Jersey. A woman of African descent, possibly as a voter, or possibly as the enslaved property of one of the other women, clenches her hand in her pocket.
Scenes like this one were not uncommon at polling places in New Jersey from the 1790s until 1807. Though little known today, New Jersey Laws of 1790 and 1797 held that: “All free inhabitants of this State of full age, and who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money…shall be entitled to vote for all public officers.” This included women and free people of color.
The tableau figures were made by StudioEIS with contributions from Carrie Fellows, Kirsten Hammerstrom, Scott Lance, Paul McClintock, Gabriela Salvador, Jana Violante, Janeen Violante, and Kalela Williams.
Finding Freedom: Eve - Bruton & Middleton Parish Register, page 83
This page from the record book for Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, Virginia, lists the baptism of Eve’s infant son George on July 6, 1766. The names of George and Eve can be found near the middle of the page. When Eve and George first ran away from the Randolph family in search of their freedom in late-1775 or early-1776, George was about 10 years old.
Courtesy of Bruton Parish Church
Season of Independence: New Jersey State Constitution, July 2, 1776
New Jersey adopted a constitution that declared its own independence from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. The preamble of the document blamed the colonists’ grievances on the actions of Parliament and King George III and claimed that “all civil Authority under [the King] is necessarily at an End” before going on to lay out a new framework for government without Royal authority.
New Jersey State Archives, Department of State