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Wednesday
Apr182018

Museum of the American Revolution – Verplanck’s Point Camp

The Museum of the American Revolution opened Spring, 2017. During that time, Charlie & I were in the middle of a major move, from our home of 30+ years in Moorestown, NJ to Maplewood, NJ. Simultaneously, our daughter decided she wanted to get married during all the commotion. We produced a lovely February 2018 wedding for her (60 degree temps that day, to my relief) I mention this only because now we seem to be locked into the winter that will never end, even in April!

At the first opportunity in February, 2018 we determined to see the Verplanck’s Point Exhibit at the Museum of the American Revolution located at 101 South Third Street in Philadelphia. I was VERY excited to see this exhibit.

On display in the first floor exhibition hall was a 7 foot long panorama of a Revolutionary War watercolor that is “the only known wartime depiction of George Washington’s headquarters tent.”   It was breathtaking, not only in terms of artistic merit, but, because it was an actual depiction of the layout of the camp at Verplanck’s Point in New York in 1782.

 

Where is Verplanck’s Point and who was Verplanck? According to the HudsonValleyGal, Verplanck’s Point was originally purchased from the Native Americans by Dutch colonist Stevanus Van Cortlandt in 1683. His granddaughter Gertrude inherited the property and married Philip Verplanck who renamed the land Verplanck in place of the original Native American name, Meanagh. By the way, Philp’s parents were Jacobus Verplanck and Margaret Schuyler.

Verplanck’s Point is located on the east side of the Hudson River, off Route 9 across from Bear Mountain State Park. Today, it is a peaceful setting, where a few  markers acknowledge  historic events and an important 18th century ferry crossing. This crossing was commandeered by the British during the Revolution. Washington made an attempt to reclaim this ferry crossing but his plan was neutralized. Eventually, the British moved on, leaving the ferry crossing unoccupied and allowing for the Washington encampment. (allthingsliberty.com)

The 7 foot panorama was painted by Pierre Charles L’Enfant. L’Enfant was the son of a painter and had studied at the Louvre among other prestigious art institutes. He came to America as a French soldier and served on Washington’s staff in Valley Forge and in the Hudson Valley.

The watercolor was divided into 6 parts, mounted on linen and bound in book form. It was auctioned in May, 2017 at Heritage Auctions and purchased by Philip Mead, chief historian and director of curatorial affairs at the Museum of the Revolution. Mead was thrilled to purchase such an important piece of American history that coincided with the Museum’s opening and depicts the historic headquarters tent.

A word about the Museum. If you go, allow plenty of time. There is much to see, read, experience, and ponder. Take the children. Even though there is a lot of reading, the experience will stay with them. Lots of hands on activities. I particularly enjoyed the film in the theatre that discussed the war. The finale of Washington’s actual tent on display is very moving. The Verplanck's Point exhibition closed on February 19, 2018.

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