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Showing 41–50 of 695 results for Washington's War Tents

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

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Finding Freedom: Andrew - Claim for Increase in Revolutionary War Pension Payment

Andrew Ferguson traveled west to Knox County, Indiana, in 1844 to apply for an increase in his Revolutionary War pension payments due to the growing pain of his wartime injuries. This written record documents his testimony given at the county courthouse and the support Ferguson’s application received from a fellow Black veteran named Daniel Strother. According to his testimony, Ferguson was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Camden in 1780 and in the head at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781. Two doctors examined Ferguson following his testimony and agreed that his injuries prevented him from earning a living from manual labor. The doctors supported his claim for an increase in his pension payments, but the United States Government denied Ferguson’s request. 

National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC/Fold3.com

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Finding Freedom: London - Birch Pass

In the terms of the surrender to the Americans, the British were to return all captured property—including human property. The British did not adhere to this stipulation, and instead evacuated thousands of free and formerly enslaved men and women to Canada. Birch Passes, named for British Brigadier General Samuel Birch, were given to those who could prove they sought the protection of the British forces during the war. The passes, such as this example, guaranteed a place on a departing ship. London may have received one. Cato Rammsay, an enslaved man who escaped from Norfolk, Virginia, received this Birch Pass that allowed him to go to Nova Scotia as a free person.

Passport for Cato Ramsay to emigrate to Nova Scotia, 21 April 1783; NSA, Gideon White fonds, MG 1 vol. 948 no. 196

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Among His Troops: Washington’s Leadership

The stakes were never higher than in 1782. Washington designed the camp at Verplanck’s Point to convince the French to support a continued war effort. The Continental Congress had no power to tax and could not pay the army, but the French had good silver coin. Anger over the lack of money simmered among the American troops. Enlisted soldiers were owed back pay, and in 1779 Congress promised Continental Army officers lifetime pensions, but now declared those payments were up to the states. If someone did not figure out how to pay the soldiers, there might be a rebellion against the Revolution. Though peace negotiations were underway in Paris, the British could back out of them. The United States might need the French Navy to drive the British out of New York City. Washington needed to put on a good show for the French, and he did. The picturesque encampment impressed the allies. One eyewitness said the scene “was truly a subject worthy of the pencil of the first artist.”



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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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Finding Freedom: Deborah - Birch Pass

In the terms of the surrender to the Americans, the British were to return all captured property—including human property. The British did not adhere to this stipulation, and instead evacuated thousands of free and formerly enslaved men and women to Canada. Birch Passes, named for British Brigadier General Samuel Birch, were given to those who could prove they sought the protection of the British forces during the war. The passes, such as this example, guaranteed a place on a departing ship. According to the 1783 “Inspection Roll of Negroes,” Deborah received a Birch Pass that allowed her to go to Nova Scotia as a free person. Cato Rammsay, an enslaved man who escaped from Norfolk, Virginia, received this Birch Pass that allowed him to go to Nova Scotia as well. 

Passport for Cato Ramsay to emigrate to Nova Scotia, 21 April 1783; NSA, Gideon White fonds, MG 1 vol. 948 no. 196

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Among His Troops: Continental Army Along the Hudson

George Washington called the Hudson River the “Key of America.” With the Mohawk River to the West and Lake George and Lake Champlain to the North, the Hudson was part of a system of waterways that reached from the Great Lakes, to Canada, and down to New York City. During the Revolutionary War, Americans clustered their Hudson River fortifications around three narrows– West Point in the North, the Popolopen Creek in the middle, and King’s Ferry to the South. These posts were between 45 and 60 miles from New York City. In 1781, French troops and a portion of the Continental Army crossed the Hudson River at King’s Ferry on their way to Yorktown, Virginia, a crossing that is now recognized as part of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail. By the summer of 1782, the American Army had secured its control of this region. Along the 15-mile stretch of the Hudson River, Washington maintained a force of over 11,000 soldiers. At the same time, 13,000 British troops occupied New York City. West Point was the Continental Army’s strongest fortification. Verplanck’s Point and Stony Point, on either side of King’s Ferry, were the front line against the British to the south.


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The Davenport Letters

Explore a series of letters written during the Revolutionary War by brothers and Continental Army soldiers James and Isaac How Davenport between 1778-1783.
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Picturing Washington's Army

Explore rare paintings of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, including the only known wartime, eyewitness image of George Washington's tent.
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Among His Troops

Explore the online version of the Museum's 2018 special exhibition.
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