On Saturday August 14, from 7:00 to 9:00 PM visitors to the New Windsor Cantonment in Orange County can experience by candlelight the recreated dramatic last days of the encampment at New Windsor, before most of the Continental Army returned home after 8 years of war. Costumed historians will interact with visitors as if they were in 1783 at the re-created huts, owned by the Town of New Windsor and administered by the Last Encampment of the Continental Army, on the west side of Route 300 and on the north side of Causeway Road.
After 8 years of war, most of the army was finally allowed to go home, but some soldiers had to remain under arms until the British evacuated New York City. There was tension in the air. Knowing that their time was short, soldiers lashed out at their officers. One, they hung in effigy. Causing further resentment, the soldiers would not receive their long overdue pay, only certificates for three months pay, redeemable in six months.
Visitors will here tales of past glories, suffering, and share their hopes and aspirations for an uncertain future and tour the encampment grounds by the glow of tin lanterns and experience the tense days before the army left New Windsor, with the soldiers and civilians who once made their homes in the area.
The “residents” have no knowledge of any events past June 1783, like the fact that their beloved General Washington will one day be the President of the United States, with strong powers enumerated in the 1787 Constitution.
Visitors will meet few, if any, names that they recognize from history, but instead humble souls whose efforts combined with thousands of others, helped forge a nation. This type of presentation, called “first-person living history,” has developed into a very exciting way to make history more meaningful to visitors. This technique is used at Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts and Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia.
The event is co-sponsored by the National Temple Hill Association and New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site. The National Temple Hill Association administers the Last Encampment of the Continental Army for the Town of New Windsor and owns the historic Edmonston House.
Photo: Two Soldiers of the Massachusetts Line, in a Hut, at the Last Encampment of the Continental Army, New Windsor, New York