West Point


Take a closer look at the buildings and parade ground at West Point. Cadets at the United States Military Academy continue to train on the same ground where the Continental Army encamped during the Revolutionary War. 

Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 

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Fort Webb

This fort, named for the Connecticut officer who commanded it in 1778, defended the southern approach to Fort Putnam, the largest of West Point’s forts. Polish engineer Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who joined the Continental Army in 1776, helped to improve and expand this fortification.

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Fort Putnam

Fort Putnam, named for Massachusetts officer Rufus Putnam, was the stronghold of the West Point garrison. Perched on the 50-foot-high cliff that towered above the rest of the encampment, the fort featured thick wood, dirt, and stone walls.

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Companies of Massachusetts or Connecticut troops are visible here marching in front of their tents. Deborah Sampson, a woman who disguised herself as a man and served in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment, may be among them. By 1782, observers noted the good discipline and crisp movements of the Continental Army’s veteran soldiers. 

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About 15 distinct buildings are visible here behind the soldiers’ encampment. This complex of structures included the headquarters of the commander of the garrison, storage houses for food, equipment, and gunpowder, a library, an engineering school, hospitals, blacksmith shops, and barracks buildings (visible on the right). Henry Knox, a self-taught artilleryman, commanded the West Point garrison in the fall of 1782. 

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Camp Followers

This is the only known depiction of a woman in a period image of the Continental Army. Thousands of women and children, however, shared life on campaign with their enlisted husbands and fathers. Women with the army, such as Sarah Osborn, supported the troops and earned money by sewing, doing laundry, and selling food.

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Artillery Park

One French officer wrote that “on a plateau behind this fort [Fort Clinton] the artillery park is laid out, beside a very beautiful parade ground.” The Continental Army stored extra cannons, mortars, and howitzers in this section of the encampment.

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