Tag Archives: New Windsor Cantonment

Place-Based Education and the New Windsor Cantonment

New Windsor CantonmentRecently, I was appointed a THVIP with Teaching the Hudson Valley. The role of a THVIP is to “find new and better ways to help reach Hudson Valley children and young people with place-based education,” both in and out of the classroom.

I’ve been thinking about some of the great historical sites around Orange and Ulster counties. A personal favorite, and not just because I once worked there, is the New Windsor Cantonment. Continue reading

Revolutionary War Camp at Night Event

Saturday, August 11 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM, at the re-created huts, administered by the Last Encampment of the Continental Army, on the west side of Route 300 and on the north side of Causeway Road, at the New Windsor Cantonment & Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Sites in Vails Gate, NY (Orange County), interact with soldiers and their family members as they prepare, in the late spring of 1783, for the end of the encampment.

After 8 years of war, most of the army was finally be 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.

Tour the encampment grounds by the glow of tin lanterns. See military drills and musket firings, maybe even join-in a demonstration with wooden muskets. Following the capture of British forces by the allied armies of France and America, at Yorktown, Virginia, in the fall of 1781, the northern Continental Army returned to the Hudson Highlands. The destruction of the principal British field army in the south broke England’s will to continue the struggle. In the fall of 1782, near New Windsor, 7,500 Continental Army soldiers built a city of 600 log huts near New Windsor. Along with some of their family members, they braved the winter and kept a wary eye on the 12,000 British troops in New York City, just 60 miles away.

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. New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site is part of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

Who Do These People Think They Are? at Knox’s Headquarters

General George Washington knew exactly what he was about, in the summer of 1781, by trying to convince the British and his own soldiers that he would attack New York City. Unbeknownst to all, but trusted officials, he had agreed to move with the French Army south to Virginia. In Virginia, a French naval force from the Caribbean would join them to complete the encirclement of the British Army at Yorktown.ВThe soldiers of the 2nd and 3rd Continental Artillery Regiments, encamped at New Windsor, since the previous November, spent their time assembling and training on heavy siege artillery. Without the heavy guns to batter down the fortifications of British General Cornwallis’ Army at Yorktown, the decisive victory achieved there would not have been possible.В On Saturday July 28 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM costumed historians will think and act like they were the actual participants, at Knox’s Headquarters, in New Windsor, in July 1781, making the final arrangements for the movement of the artillery to the south.

As the evening progresses, the masking darkness gives the grounds a surreal experience, adding significantly to the authenticity of the setting. The residents will beguile visitors with tales of past glories, suffering, and share their hopes and aspirations for an uncertain future. Tour the grounds and mansion by the glow of tin lanterns and experience the tense days before Yorktown with the soldiers and civilians, who once made their homes in the area.В 

The “residents” have no knowledge of the fact that Washington wants to take them south instead of to New York. 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. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22. Knox’s Headquarters is at 289 Forge Hill Road, in Vails Gate, New York at the intersection of Route 94 and Forge Hill Road, four miles east of Stewart Airport and three miles from the intersection of I-87 and I-84.Photo: New Windsor Cantonment Staff in Front of Knox’s Headquarters, the John Ellison House (provided).

Independence Day at New Windsor Cantonment, Knoxs HQ

The New Windsor Cantonment and Knox’s Headquarters present a day of Revolutionary War activities. At New Windsor Cantonment, see a military drill and cannon firing at 2:00 PM, as well as blacksmithing and children’s activities throughout the day.

At Knox’s Headquarters, tour the 1754 Ellison House, the military command post for three generals. New Windsor Cantonment is open Monday July 4 10:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. At Knox’s Headquarters see a small cannon fired at 12:00 & 4:00 PM. The house is open for tours at 11:00 AM & 3:00 PM.

On the 4th, at 3:00 P.M., New Windsor Cantonment invites visitors to help read the Declaration of Independence, the revolutionary document that started it all. Following the reading, the 7th Massachusetts Regiment will fire a “feu-de-joie,” a ceremonial firing of muskets in honor of independence.

Throughout the day authentically dressed soldiers and civilians will share stories of life from that exciting time. Knox’s Headquarters, the Ellison House, honors the site’s namesake General Henry Knox, Washington’s Chief of Artillery, with the firing of a 4 1/2 ” bronze coehorn mortar at 12:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M. This mortar, designed to be carried by two men, fired a grenade size exploding ball. John and Catherine Ellison were gracious hosts to three Continental Army generals at different times during the Revolutionary War.

In addition to the special programs and activities, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and the New Windsor Cantonment Visitor Center are open. These buildings feature the history of the New Windsor Cantonment- Behind Every Great Man: The Continental Army in Winter, 1782-83, Revolutionary War artifacts, the exhibit The Last Argument of Kings, Revolutionary War Artillery and the story of the Purple Heart.

A picnic grove is available and there is plenty of free parking. Just one mile from the Cantonment is Knox’s Headquarters State Historic Site. Elegantly furnished by John and Catherine Ellison, the 1754 mansion served as headquarters for Revolutionary War Generals Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox, and Horatio Gates. Also be sure to visit Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh, a short drive from the New Windsor Cantonment.

Admission is free. For more information please call New Windsor Cantonment at (845) 561-1765 ext. 22. New Windsor Cantonment is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor on Route 300 (374 Temple Hill Road) in the Town of New Windsor, four miles east of Stewart Airport. It is three miles from the intersection of I-87 and I-84 in Newburgh, New York. Knox’s Headquarters is located, a mile away from the New Windsor Cantonment, at the intersection of Route 94 and Forge Hill Road in Vails Gate.

Continental Army Encampment at New Windsor

Sunday June 3 at 2:00 PM, in celebration of New York State Museum Week, a military drill will be held to honor the soldiers who secured our independence.

Surrounded on all sides now by housing developments and in certain areas completely built over, the Continental Army winter encampment, at New Windsor, in 1782-83, was, during its short existence, the second largest city in New York State.

Soldiers fashioned out of the ancient forest, approximately 600 buildings, arrayed in tidy rows, replicating battlefield formations. Though a mighty gathering, the effects upon the vicinity were fleeting. The army moved on in June 1783, leaving only a wife, abandoned by her ne’er do well husband, with two young children and quartermasters responsible for disposing of the encampment. Surplus army equipment, as well as nearly all of the log structures, were sold at public auction. Following the Revolutionary War, farmers cleared the land- making stonewalls out of the collapsed fieldstone chimneys of the huts. By the mid-19th century, except to the most discerning eye, all traces of the Continental Army had vanished.

Learn about the historical significance of the New Windsor Cantonment and the soldiers encamped there during the final winter of the war. At the time, the 7,000 soldiers at New Windsor, and a few thousand more in the vicinity of West Point, were the only force standing between the people of New York and New England and 12,000 British troops in New York City, just 60 miles away.

New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor on Route 300, 374 Temple Hill Road, in New Windsor, NY, just three miles south of the intersection of I-87 and I-84. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22.

New Windsor Revolutionary War Encampment

New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site will host a weekend of Revolutionary War military firing demonstrations and period activities on Saturday April 28 and Sunday April 29, presented by the Brigade of the American Revolution, an international organization dedicated to recreating the life and times of the common soldier of the War for Independence, 1775-1783. Formed in 1962, the BAR celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

A battle demonstration takes place at 2:00 PM each day with colorfully uniformed soldiers firing muskets and maneuvering to the music of fifes and drums. The soldiers will also set up tents, prepare cooking fires and demonstrate other aspects of 18th century life.

Visitors will also see women and children, the family members of the soldiers who traveled with the army. Members of the Brigade of the American Revolution use this weekend to teach the latest knowledge in recreating life from that era. The presentations are an enjoyable experience, something to be long remembered. Through lectures and demonstrations, a wide variety of 18th century period life is revealed. New Windsor Cantonment site staff is present to perform blacksmithing, and military medicine throughout the weekend. The new exhibit galleries provide an overview of life at the New Windsor Cantonment and 18th century artillery.

The variety of dress worn by participates provides a living window to the past. Green-coated Loyalists, Germans in blue, collectively called Hessians and British regulars in red, stand poised to defend the interests of the King and Parliament. Among the Patriot forces, you will find not only Continentals, like the Light Infantry, dressed in blue coats as they would have been at the Battle of Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, but also regiments in gray, brown or whatever color happened to be available at the time.

In addition to the special programs and activities, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and the New Windsor Cantonment Visitor Center are open. These buildings feature the story of the Purple Heart, the history of the New Windsor Cantonment, Revolutionary War artifacts and the exhibit The Last Argument of Kings, Revolutionary War Artillery. A picnic grove is available and there is free parking.

The site is open to the public Saturday April 28 and Sunday April 29 from 10:00 to 5:00 PM. On Sunday the visitor center does not open until 1:00 PM. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22. Admission is free. The New Windsor Cantonment is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor on Route 300 (Temple Hill Road) in the Town of New Windsor, four miles east of Stewart Airport and three miles from the intersection of I-87 and I-84 in Newburgh, New York.

Northern Army Last New Windsor Encampment

Surrounded on all sides now by housing developments and in certain areas completely built over, the Continental Army winter encampment, at New Windsor, in 1782-83, was, during its short existence, the second largest city in New York State.

Sunday March 4, at 2:00 PM, there will be a presentation on General Washington’s main army of over 7,000 soldiers and 500 family members who encamped at New Windsor that winter at the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site.

Soldiers at New Windsor fashioned approximately 600 buildings, arrayed in rows, replicating battlefield formations. Though a large gathering, the effects upon the vicinity were fleeting. The army moved on in June 1783, leaving only a wife, abandoned by her ne’er do well husband, with two young children and quartermasters responsible for disposing of the encampment. Surplus army equipment, as well as nearly all of the log structures, were sold at public auction. Following the Revolutionary War, farmers cleared the land- making stonewalls out of the collapsed fieldstone chimneys of the huts. By the mid-19th century, except to the most discerning eye, all traces of the Continental Army had vanished.

Participants will learn about the historical significance of the New Windsor Cantonment and the struggle to preserve and interpret the final winter encampment of the northern Continental Army. At the time, the soldiers at New Windsor, and a few thousand more in the vicinity of West Point, were the only force standing between the people of New York and New England and 12,000 British troops in New York City, just 60 miles away.

New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor on Route 300, 374 Temple Hill Road, in New Windsor, NY, just three miles south of the intersection of I-87 and I-84. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22.

Black Patriots: Continental African-American Vets

Several thousand African-Americans served in the Patriot ranks during the Revolution. Both freemen and slaves fought alongside white soldiers, in integrated regiments, a practice which would not occur again until the Korean War. In celebration of Black History Month, learn about the vital role that African-Americans played in securing our independence Sunday February 12 from 2:00 to 2:30 PM at the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site.

Though some enslaved soldiers were granted freedom for serving in the Patriot army, the successful struggle for independence doomed generations of African-Americans to continued bondage. Great Britain abolished slavery 31 years before the United States, so it was quite possible that the American Civil War might have been averted had the thirteen colonies not rebelled.

Why would black soldiers agree to fight for a country that held many of their people in chains and excluded the remainder from all but the most menial tasks? The answer was quite simple actually- the deep-seated desire to be accepted and respected. Gifted African-American leader and orator Frederick Douglass, proudly proclaimed during the Civil War: “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.” African-Americans, of the Revolutionary War Patriot forces, were willing to fight and die to be accepted by white society as did their descendants “four score and seven years” later.

New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site is located on Route 300, 374 Temple Hill Road, in New Windsor, NY, just three miles south of the intersection of I-87 and I-84. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22.

Illustration: An African American Private, 2nd New Jersey Regiment.

General Horatio Gates Event in New Windsor

Saturday, November 5, from 2:00 – 3:00 PM visit this Revolutionary War headquarters and meet General Horatio Gates, who was none too happy to be billeted in this house. This is a cooperative program of the National Temple Hill Association and the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site. Free admission. Edmonston House is located at 1042 Route 94 in New Windsor, New York, just ? mile west of the 5 corner intersection. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22.

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.

New Windsor Blast From The Past

Over 7,000 Continental Army soldiers and 500 of their family members encamped at New Windsor, New York, during the winter of 1782-83. “A Blast from the Past” will recall that encampment at the New Windsor Cantonment & Knox’s Headquarters, on Saturday September 24th, Museum Day & a Hudson River Valley Ramble Weekend

At 2:00 PM, Revolutionary War soldiers perform a military demonstration and fire a cannon. A gallery tour will follow the demonstration. From 3:30 to 4:30 PM tour the nearby 1754 Ellison House, Knox’s Headquarters. New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor on Route 300, 374 Temple Hill Road, in New Windsor, NY, just three miles south of the intersection of I-87 and I-84. Knox’s Headquarters is located at 289 Forge Hill Road in Vails Gate, New York. For more information please call (845) 561-1765 ext. 22.

When 300 soldiers from the 2nd and 3rd Continental Artillery Regiments established a winter encampment at New Windsor, New York, in November 1780, American fortunes were at their lowest ebb. The previous spring, their southern army had surrendered to British forces at Charleston, South Carolina and a second army sent from the north was routed at Camden, northwest of modern Columbia. In September, Benedict Arnold’s treason shook what little confidence Americans still had in the nation’s leadership. The alliance with France produced little, but discord, the country’s finances were in shambles and the growing number of mutinies exposed the fact that the American soldiers’ often-praised perseverance was starting to waver.

When the artillerymen marched out of New Windsor, in June 1781, some of their number would assist in compelling over 8,000 British soldiers and sailors at Yorktown Virginia to surrender, in October. American joy following the victory at Yorktown was short-lived, however, because the British still controlled Maine, New York City, Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah. At the end of October 1782, the Continental Army returned to New Windsor with 7,500 soldiers. They built a city of log huts which they occupied until June 1783. American finances remained precarious. Resentful of past mistreatment and the nation’s unfulfilled promises, the officers and soldiers looked to the future with growing uncertainty. Only by a personal appeal to his officers, at New Windsor, did Washington prevent a possible mutiny.