The home of James Edmonston has stood for over 250 years. Rescued in the 1960’s, by the National Temple Hill Association, the house by that point had become a junkyard showroom, filled with old car parts. Nicely restored, the house serves as the headquarters for this local historic organization.
When General Horatio Gates was assigned the Edmonston home as winter quarters for 1782-83, only the small western section of the house existed. Disgusted with the pitifully small house, he wrote General George Washington: “Your Excellency’s Dog kennel at Mount Vernon, is as good a Quarter as that I am now in”. Eyeing the much larger and far more refined Ellison House, he expected to be billeted at that nearby property. To please Gates, the senior ranking Major General, in the Continental Army, Quartermaster General Colonel Timothy Pickering had to evict Surgeon General John Cochran from the Ellison house. Angered by his removal, Cochran challenged the beleaguered Pickering to a duel.
Despite his utter defeat and shameful flight from the battlefield of Camden, South Carolina, in 1780, he still remained as arrogant as ever. An intriguer and schemer, he used friends in Congress to wrest the command of the Army that would eventually defeat and capture a British Army at Saratoga, in 1777. Many of his contemporaries and later historians, believed that the victory was the result of the efforts of the man he replaced- Philip Schuyler. He was implicated in a plot, with the same Congressional partisans who helped him supersede Schuyler, to supplant Washington as commander-in-chief. While at the Ellison house, he was involved in a conspiracy, in March 1783, which threatened the very freedoms the country had fought to achieve.
Organized in 1933, The National Temple Hill Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic sites related to the last encampment of Washington’s Continental Army. New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site is part of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission administers 27 parks, parkways and historic sites for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in New York as well as the Palisades Interstate Park and parkway in New Jersey.