Tag Archives: New Windsor Cantonment

Life At Night In The 18th Century


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Highwaymen rob carriageNighttime in the past was different than today-far darker and more hazardous.  In the Middle Ages night was seen as a sort of anti-time, the very negative of day, when all things bad happened and only people with evil intent were found on the street.

All this began to change in the 18th century. Street lighting in big cities became more common and medieval curfews were abandoned.  Less a source of fear than in the past people were more likely to see beauty in a starry sky and to seek out nightly entertainment instead of hiding behind locked doors.  Yet the 18th century was still very much a period of transition. Continue reading

Washington’s Birthday: Guide To Hudson Valley Events


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FSHSHH_2015GWBCschedule_GraphicDepending on where you are or who you talk to, the third Monday in February represents either Presidents’ Day or Washington’s Birthday. At three Revolutionary War historic sites in the Hudson Valley, the day is part of a three-day celebration of George Washington.

The Friends of the State Historic Sites of the Hudson Highlands (FSHSHH) have created an inclusive schedule to the array of activities taking place at Washington’s Headquarters, Knox’s Headquarters, and the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Sites on February 14th, 15th, and 16th. Each day offers something new. Continue reading

Knox’s Headquarters To Celebrate General’s Birthday


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New Windsor Cantonment StaffGeneral 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. The soldiers of the 2nd and 3rd Continental Artillery Regiments, encamped at New Windsor, NY 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. Continue reading

New Windsor Revolutionary War Encampment Set


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new winsor encampmentNew Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site will host a weekend of Revolutionary War military firing demonstrations and period activities on Saturday April 26 and Sunday April 27, 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.

A battle demonstration takes place at 2:00 PM each day with colorfully uniformed soldiers firing muskets, a cannon 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.   Continue reading

Presidents Weekend:
Events At Knox’s HQ, New Windsor Cantonment


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soldier 2Knox’s Headquarters in Newburgh and the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site will be offering a full schedule of activities for the Presidents’ weekend. New Windsor Cantonment was the final encampment of the northern Continental Army, in 1782-83. Here over 7,000 soldiers and 500 family members endured the winter and prepared for a renewal of the fighting in the spring. Instead peace was proclaimed and after 8 long years of war they returned home.

Knox’s Headquarters, the elegant 1754 combination English and Dutch style home, of the prosperous merchant miller John Ellison, was one of the longest occupied military headquarters of the Revolutionary War. Continental Army Generals, Nathanael Greene, Henry Knox and Horatio Gates used the house as headquarters, during various periods between 1779-1783. Continue reading

Place-Based Education and the New Windsor Cantonment


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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


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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


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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. 

The 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. 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. 

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, Knox’s HQ


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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


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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.