December 13, 1782

Written by James from New Windsor

By December of 1782, Washington had moved his army from Verplanckā€™s Point to a permanent winter encampment up the Hudson at New Windsor. Amid his usual complaints about how little food, money, and correspondence he had, James Davenport recorded how the army went into its winter quarters. As they had every previous winter of the war, the soldiers maintained a defensive front while building huts. James was a member of the light infantry, units of soldiers who were supposed to be especially active, intelligent, and prepared for the sort of common small engagements and dispersed fighting called skirmishing. His unit remained in their tents on guard in case of a British attack while other soldiers began building the small log cabins that would house them over the cold New York winter. These huts usually had plank roofs, bunk beds, and fireplaces, and by December 13, James and perhaps a dozen other soldiers had finished theirs enough that they could begin living in it.

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James Davenport's Siblings

James Davenport had thirteen siblings. When he wrote this letter, Josiah, Hannah, Lydia, and Sarah were living in Warwick, Massachusetts, and Joseph and Isaac Howe had died fighting in the war. The other seven were living at home with his parents, Isaac and Mary Davenport: Samuel, Mary, Ephraim, Ebenezer, John, Daniel, and Esther.