J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Glimpses of Revolutionary Camp Followers

In recent months Susan Holloway Scott at Two Nerdy History Girls shared a couple of artifacts that offer glimpses of the families who traveled with eighteenth-century armies.

In the collections of the Library of Congress is a panoramic view of the Hudson River in watercolor by Pierre L’Enfant. That includes a few vignettes of the American camp at West Point, New York, in 1782.

Scott notes:
A woman is shown holding a tin kettle for three soldiers to eat directly from it, while an interested (and likely hungry!) dog waits nearby. To their left are two girls climbing up the hillside. Again according to the exhibition’s notes, documents from 1782 list 150 women and children at West Point in addition to about 3,600 soldiers. Wives, daughters, and sweethearts, these women sewed, washed laundry, and supplied food for the men - important if often overlooked contributions to the military effort.
Go to Scott’s posting for close-ups of the relevant portions of the panorama.

Last year she shared an artifact owned by the New-York Historical Society, shown above: a ceramic lamb, a few inches long, that a child probably lost while camping with the British army near New York City.

Both these artifacts are on loan to Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution, now offering an exhibit titled “Among His Troops: Washington’s War Tent in a Newly Discovered Watercolor.” L’Enfant is also credited with the long panorama at the center of that exhibit, which will be up until 19 February.


Susan Holloway Scott said...

Thanks for sharing my posts to a wider audience, John! Don't know if you've been able to visit the Museum of the American Revolution here in Philadelphia yet, but it's one room after another of wonderful and inspiring artifacts like these that combine to tell the larger story of the war. One of the best things about the museum is its ability to showcase items on loan from small and often obscure collections, both private and public. Things on display are always changing, so as a result there's always something new to see.

And no, I'm not employed by the museum - though my enthusiasm often makes readers ask if I am. ;)

J. L. Bell said...

I visited the Museum of the American Revolution in the summer during a road trip to Nashville and enjoyed it greatly. Would be happy to come back, though it looks like New Englanders will have to wait until after the Super Bowl.