This is definitely a military-based show. I counted six powder horns (one pierced by a musket ball), five swords, and four muskets, versus two looking-glasses and one clockface. Some of the items are already famous, such as one of the lanterns said to have hung in the Old North Church and William Diamond’s drum.
Other objects I’d never seen before in person or photograph. For instance, John Hancock’s letter to members of the Committee of Supplies in west Cambridge shows Patriot leaders discussing the likelihood of British troops heading to Concord before they went to bed on the 18th.
A shovel sheathed in iron is labeled as probably one of the fortification-building tools the Massachusetts Provincial Congress had collected in Concord. I wondered, had James Brewer taken this shovel from deacon Richard Boynton’s forge inside Boston? (I guess I haven’t told that story on Boston 1775 yet.)
There aren’t many portraits in this exhibit, but one familiar face on the walls was the watercolor painting of Maj. John Pitcairn that I discussed earlier this year. Its label offers a new theory of its origin, and I’m curious about the evidence behind that.
It was striking how many artifacts in this show come from local historical societies, and different historical societies. New England was built with lots of separate towns, and they have their separate treasures, many loaned for this show. Thus, from Arlington (formerly Menotomy) come not just the Royal Artillery cartridge pouch discussed back here but also a panel from little Joel Adams’s door and part of the meetinghouse silverware that some British soldiers carried into Boston.
Another element of the exhibit I liked was the use of stripes on the wall to show relative size of the British and American forces in action. You can see those in the background of the photo above, from Donna Seger’s report on visiting Concord on Patriots Day. (The foreground shows the gun flints found in two lines in Concord’s training field, where militia troops lined up before moving against the regulars at the North Bridge.)
If you go to the Concord Museum for this exhibit, don’t miss two other Revolution-related rooms: the “Last Muster” photographs of aged veterans and the portion of the “Why Concord?” exhibit downstairs that deals with the shift to independence.