You are on page 1of 22

"We ... got ourselves cleverly settled for the night....

Soldiers' Shelter on Campaign during the War for Independence

John U. Rees

Part III
"The camps ... are as different in their form as the owners are in their dress ..."
Shades, Sheds, and Wooden Tents, 1775-1782

Bower used by civilian brickmakers, circa 1806.
William Henry Pyne, Microcosm or, A Delineation of the Arts, Agriculture, and Manufactures of
Great Britain in a Series of above a Thousand Groups of Small Figures for the Embellishment of
Landscape (London, 1806; reprint, New York: Benjamin Blom, 1971), four illustrations of bowers
as used by farmworkers, 113.


1. "Not a bush to make a shade near [at] hand ...":
Bush Bowers, "Arbours," and "Shades," 1776-1782
2. "An elegant shade ...": Officers' Bowers
3. "The Men employed in making Bowers before their Tents ..."
Shades for Common Soldiers
a. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, 1777 to 1780
b. Virginia Peninsula, 1781
c. New York, 1782
d. Bowers and British Troops, 1776 and 1781
4. "The troops hutted with Rails and Indian Corn Stocks ..."
Sheds, Planked Huts, and Straw Tents, 1775-1777
“The … roof consists of boughs, or branches … curiously interwoven …”:
The “curious edifice” Built at West Point to Celebrate French Dauphin’s
Soldiers during the Revolutionary War often built makeshift shelters to cover themselves
when tents or buildings were unavailable. American soldiers had a number of names for these
dwellings, such as "brush Hutt," "bush housen," "hemlock bowhouses" (i.e., huts made of
hemlock boughs), and "huts [of] brush and leaves." Some terms denoted similarly-formed
shelters, while others described a distinctly different type of construct; all those named above
were enclosed lodgings, with frames made of cut trees or tree limbs, covered with leafy branches
or pine boughs. Several other appellations denoted shelters similar to brush huts or huts made of
brush and/or boards under their definition: "booth" seems to have referred to a particular form of
brush hut, and was perhaps the American term for an open lean-to (shaped like a Civil War
shelter-half); sheds were similar in construction to brush huts, but covered with different
materials, such as milled lumber, fence rails, cornshocks, or straw; and wigwam was a
predominantly British term, encompassing any type of soldier-built ad hoc shelter. A fourth type
was the bower or "shade," a flat-topped structure used primarily for protection from the sun,
though several references seem to indicate bowers being constructed as lean-tos for overnight
shelter as well as shade.1
In this part of our study we will examine bowers and sheds built by both sides in the War for
Independence and British soldiers' widespread use of brush huts (wigwams).
"Not a bush to make a shade near [at] hand ..."
Bush Bowers, "Arbours," and "Shades," 1776-1782

For our purposes, bower is meant to refer to a flat-topped, leaf-covered temporary structure
used primarily for shade rather than overnight lodging. Also known as bowries, shades, or
arbors, they came in many sizes and normally were comprised of four forked poles, or saplings,
for support (one at each corner) and a roof of wooden poles topped with a layer of leaf-covered
branches or pine boughs. They ranged from small lean-tos, some perhaps less than five feet high,
to large and elaborate shades high enough to stand under. Bowers were used by both officers and
common soldiers during the war, usually for shade in warm weather (with or without tents),
sometimes as sleeping quarters, and in other instances for special entertainments given for, and
by, officers.
"The Officers of the Regt. are desired to attend tomorrow at 10 OCIock at Colonel Febigers Bush
Arbour to settle their Ranks." Officer's shade, built by Helms' Company, 2d New Jersey Regiment,
Monmouth Battlefield State Park, June 1995.

"An elegant shade ..."
Officers' Bowers

The officers of the Continental Army occasionally used bowers, usually in conjunction with
tentage used for sleeping quarters; these shades commonly functioned as outdoor office, dining
area, and meeting place. Three passages have been found showing Virginia officers using such
shades. The earliest occurrence was in June 1776 at Norfolk, where an order was issued for "A
Fatigue of a Sergeant and six men to Erect an Arbour over the Commanding Officer's Barracks,
as well as the other Officers who may desire it." (In this case it is likely the "Barracks" referred
to were tents.)2
While not overtly mentioned in the next two incidents, the use of shades in conjunction with
tents is inferred as the army had moved from winter quarters and was encamped. Eleventh
Virginia Regiment orders, 27 May 1777: "Camp Middle Brook [New Jersey] ... The Officers of
the Regt. are desired to attend tomorrow at 10 OClock at Colonel Febigers Bush Arbour to settle
their Ranks." A few months later, in Pennsylvania, Capt. John Chilton, 3d Virginia Regiment,
mentioned a similar instance. Chilton jotted down a series of sums in his diary, under which he
noted, "The above was furnished by Majr. Wm Washington which I paid him at Colo. Marshalls
Arbour 22d. Augt. 1777 Cross roads." The final reference to bowers being used in this manner
comes from Joseph Plumb Martin, who related that near West Point in l782 his "captain's
marquee had a shade over and round the entrance."3
Alternatively, bowers were constructed to provide a place under which a special entertainment
or worship service could take place. One such was constructed during Maj. Gen. John Sullivan's
Indian Campaign in September 1779. That bower was used by Brig. Gen. Edward Hand to host
an entertainment given for the officers of his brigade on the occasion "of Spain Declaring war
against Great Britain and of the late generous Resolution of Congress of raising the Subsistence
of Officers & soldiers of the Army." A lieutenant in the 4th Pennsylvania related the

The officers of each Brigade assembled and Supped together (excepting Gen. Poors) on
their ox and five gallons of spirits and spent the evening very agreeable. The officers of
our brigade assembled at a large bower made for that purpose Iluminated with 13 pine
[k]not fires round and each officer atended with his bread knife and plate and set on the
ground Genl. Hand at the head & Col. Proctor at the foot as his officers suped with us in
this manner.4

During the same campaign a more ambitious repast took place in July near Forty-Fort,
Pennsylvania. Although described as a "booth," this term was sometimes used to describe
various shelters; from the context it is evident a bower was being used.

This day General Poor makes an elegant entertainment for all the officers of his brigade,
with a number of gentlemen from other brigades, and from the town. Gen. Hand and his
retinue were present. The dining room was a large booth, about eighty feet in length, with
a marquee pitched at each end. The day was spent in mirth and jollity. The company
consisted of upwards of one hundred.5

The following year, in northern New Jersey, a similar affair was described by a surgeon in
Jackson's Additional Regiment: "10th. [July 1780] ... We erected a large arbor, with the boughs
of trees, under which we enjoyed an elegant dinner, and spent the afternoon in social glee, with
some of the wine which was taken from the enemy when they retreated from Elizabethtown."6
During the 1781 Virginia Campaign a number of accounts noted bowers used for several
purposes. While the British army was either at some distance or preoccupied with fortifying
Yorktown, there seems to have been sufficient leisure afforded American officers for some
pleasant diversions. Massachusetts lieutenant Ebenezer Wild wrote,

23d. [July] Exceeding pleasant weather. At 3 o'clk I dined with Genl. Muhlenberg, about
one mile from his quarters, under a large bowrey, built for that purpose on the bank of the
[James] river.

14th. [August] The officers of the Regiment dined together under an elegant bowry built
(in the rear of the Regiment) for that purpose.7

It is evident that with some ingenuity, and given sufficient material, a rather large structure
could be constructed in a relatively short period of time. Unfortunately, the size of the "large
bowrey" was not noted; it is doubtful that it rivalled the one near Forty-Fort in 1779.
“As soon as the tents are Pitched and the Bowers made, the Troops will attend to the Claning and
repearing their Cloths & Arms. Racks or Forks are to be fixed in front of each regt to bear the
arms against." Reconstruction of a brush bower, built by the author and Charles LeCount at
Daniel Boone's Homestead, 20-21 May 1995.

Toward the end of August 1781 two Pennsylvania officers observed another use for bowers.
An anonymous officer wrote that he "attended Divine worship on the banks of the River under
an elegant shade." Capt. John Davis on the same occasion was more descriptive: he noted the
same structure as being "a shade of Cedars."8

"The Men employed in making Bowers before their Tents..."
Shades for Common Soldiers

Pennsylvania and New Jersey, 1777 to 1780. Continental soldiers sometimes built bowers for
shade and shelter during the warm months. The earliest known use of shades by common
soldiers is found in Brig. Gen. John Peter Muhlenberg's 10 August 1777 directive, "Cross Roads"
camp, Bucks County, Pennsylvania: "B[rigade]. O[rders]. As it is uncertain how long we shall
remain in the Present Encampment the Soldiers are to fix Booths before their Tents to shelter
them from the Heat." Terms for makeshift shelters are sometimes problematic: the term booth as
used by other soldiers, in quite different situations, describes a crude hut; in this instance the
"Booths" were specifically stated to serve as sun protection. In summer 1778 some form of shade
was again mentioned in an order for Wayne's Pennsylvanians: "Division Orders, White Plains,
August 2, 1778.... Each Regt. will clean away the Stones on their Respective parades this
evening, and cover the front of their tents with Green Boughs."9
Although the troops must often have constructed such shades, it is not until two years later we
find the next documentary evidence. First, another note of caution concerning nomenclature. On
24 August 1780 Gen. George Washington wrote, "Our Army before now has been almost a
whole Campaign without Tents. And this spring were from the 6th. of June till sometime in July,
without a single one for either Officers or men (making use of bush Bowers) as a substitute."
With the evidence at hand it seems that the shelters mentioned by Washington in 1780 were in
fact not "bowers," but brush huts. At this stage of the war either the commander-in-chief's
understanding of the terms used for various shelters in the army was imperfect or both bowers
and brush huts were being used by the troops; the former contention is more likely. Ens.
Jeremiah Greenman's diary shows that brush huts were used by the troops during the time
mentioned by Washington. From his 7 June entry noting "the Enemy landed at Elesebeth Town
... [and we] proceeded on towards ... Spring Field in Sight of the Enemy where we halted &
formed the Line, where we continu'd in the wrain all Night," until 9 July when he wrote that "we
pitched our Tents on a very pleasant hill, after laying without tents from the 7th June," Greenman
several times mentioned makeshift shelters, all of them "bush housan."10
Bowers were used later used by Washington's soldiers during summer 1780, but only after
tents reached the army early in July. Again, these shades were used in conjunction with tents:
Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne's orders, Totaway, New Jersey, 9 July 1780, "As soon as the tents are
Pitched and the Bowers made, the Troops will attend to Claning and repearing their Cloths &
Arms. Racks or Forks are to be fixed in front of each regt to bear the arms against."11

A smaller, free standing bower.
(Photo courtesy of Joseph Berry)
Virginia Peninsula, 1781. In summer 1781 a detachment of troops commanded by the Marquis
de Lafayette operated against British forces commanded by Charles, Lord Cornwallis, on the
Virginia Peninsula. When the enemy was in close proximity American forces frequently
operated without their baggage train carrying tent-age. The men had to shift for themselves at
such times, occasionally sleeping in the open, sometimes building bowers and brush huts for
shelter. Lt. Ebenezer Wild, with Vose's Battalion of Lafayette's light troops, left a record of
makeshift dwellings built during that time.

29th. [June] ... At sundown we moved back two miles above Bird's [Ordinary], and halted
in the woods.

30th. Built bowries and remained on this ground all day.... Our tents and baggage arrived
at this place.

Sunday 1st July, 1781. Marched at daylight, and halted at 9 o'clk on a large plain near
York river, where we built bush huts (the weather being exceeding warm).

2d. Marched at daylight, and passing by Bird's, turned out of the road ... into the woods to
form an ambuscade for a party of the enemy's horse.... But unfortunately they discovered
our manoeuvre and made their escape; after which we marched out of the woods and
built some bowries, which we lay in till 3 o'clk, when we marched again back to the place
we left at daylight this morning.

3d. Marched at 6 o'clk A.M. and proceeded 4 miles, and halted in a field ... where we
pitched what tents we had left (the greater part of them being lost).

5th. Marched at eight o'clk A.M., and proceeded half a mile below Bird's, where we
halted & built bowries.... At five o'clk we marched one mile further, halted, and built
huts. At nine in the evening the troops marched again....

29th. [July], Sunday Struck our tents and bowries for the purpose of airing the ground.12

Wild's last journal entry was written after British troops departed the Peninsula, leaving
Lafayette's forces in control of the area. The enemy's absence is reflected by the occurrence of
such niceties as "airing the ground" for the health of the soldiers, a necessary order as the troops
were able to ease their vigilence and remain encamped in one place for an extended period.
The shades built in August 1777 and 1778 were described as being in "front of their tents,"
suggesting a bower like that illustrated below. From the above information it is not clear where
the 29 July 1781 "bowries," and those constructed in July 1780 at Totaway, New Jersey, were
positioned in camp. They may have stood alone, away from the tents, though Lieutenant Wild's
mention of taking down tents and bowers "for the purpose of airing the ground" indicates that
some shades may have been built differently. One possibility is their being built above the tents;
in order to strike tentage the bowers would have had to be dismantled. While Civil War soldiers
occasionally built shades over tents, a structure of this type is unlikely in 1781 since we lack
evidence of bowers being built over common soldiers' tents at any time during the War for
"The whole Armys Incampment [is] in one right Line with elegant bowers built before the Tents."
A representation of how the bowers may have looked. Specifications of January 1781 give the
dimensions of a common soldier's tent as "7 Feet Square 7 Feet [in] Height." Illustration by Ross

Another possibility is that some bowers (like those erected in the absence of tents in June and
July 1781) may have been very crude affairs, much like a lean-to, built quickly to provide both
shelter and shade for the soldiers. Thus, Wild's "bush huts" may have been enclosed lodges and
his "bowries" a combination open hut/shade. This would make sense considering that both were
used by Lieutenant Wild and his men on two occasions at different locations the same day; it
would also explain the 29 July order to air the ground under the bowers. Those men without tents
on 29 July had to construct their own shelters, which may have resembled one built by soldiers in
December 1777, described as being "made with two forked saplings, placed in the ground,
another [sapling] from one to the other. Against this, fence-rails were placed, sloping, on which
leaves and snow were thrown, and thus made comfortable." The "Booths" built for shade in 1777
by General Muhlenberg's troops may also have been lean-tos similar to this.13
Lieutenant Wild's account indicates that while bowers were built primarily for shade,
they were occasionally used to provide more substantial shelter, possibly with some variation in
construction. Additionally, the diary entries for 2 and 5 July show bowers being so easily and
speedily built that their construction and abandonment after a few hours use was a matter of

New York, 1782. Shortly after arriving at their new encampment at Verplank's Point in late
summer 1782, the soldiers of Washington's army were directed to construct bowers. General
orders, Verplanks Point, New York:

Sunday 1st Sept 1782 ... the General is desirous the Troops should make themselves as
comfortable as possible while in the Field, The Encampment itself is very pleasing and
Healthy, straw will be issued at the Rates of two Bundles Pr tent of this with the Flaggs
and Leaves which may be procured convenient Matts or Beding may be formed, Shades
or Bowers should also be erected in Front of the tents, in the Construction of which
regularity will be extreamly pleasing to the Eye. Vaults [i.e., latrines] must be made in
the Rear of the Line & covered every Day....

2d Septr '82 ... the Troops will hasten & compleat their Bowers & acomadations as soon
as Possible until Thirsday next their time may be devoted to that Purpose.... the Vaults
should be shaded with interwoven Boughs so as to cover them as much as possible from

Although it is possible some earlier bowers were built with "regularity" this is the first
mention of uniformity in construction.
Lieutenant Greenman corroborated enactment of these orders:

M[onday] 9. [September 1782]... proceeded up the River to Verplanks Point, where
landed the Bagage of the Regmt. & had it carried to the ground alloted for the Regmt. to
incamp on & spread the Tents on the ground assigned them. The whole Armys
Incampment [is] in one right Line with elegant bowers built before the Tents.15

An excellent overall view of this camp is given by the Marquis de Chastellux, who also makes
reference to the use of bowers by the French Army. The Marquis

spent a day or two at ... Verplank's Point.... The American camp here, presented the most
beautiful and picturesque appearance: it extended along the plain, on the neck of land
formed by the winding of the Hudson, and had a view of this river to the south; behind it
the lofty mountains, covered with wood, formed the most sublime back-ground that
painting can express. In front of the tents was a regular continued portico, formed by the
boughs of trees in verdure, decorated with much taste and fancy; each officer's tent was
distinguished by superior ornaments. Opposite the camp, and on distinct eminences,
stood the tents of some of the general officers, over which towered, predominant, that of
General Washington. I have seen all the camps in England, from many of which,
drawings and engravings have been taken; but this was a subject worthy the pencil of the
first artist. The French camp during their stay at Baltimore, was decorated in the same

In addition to confirming the use of bowers and tents together, the 2 September order is
interesting because it mentions another type of makeshift construction (i.e., barriers to shade the
latrines, probably from both the sun and the eyes of onlookers) and the recommendation made
concerning bedding for the men. (On a side note, the "Flaggs" referred to in the order for 1
September have been defined in Richard M. Lederer, Colonial American English: A Glossary, as
"an aquatic plant with long, broad leaves used for mats, roofing, and chair seats. Hence 'flag
bottom' and 'flag chair.' In 1634 William Wood wrote, 'In Summer they gather flagges, of which
they make Matts for houses.'")
In this same vein, an early-war account illustrates another use for shades: General orders,
Continental Army "Head-Quarters, Middle-Brook, June 3, 1777 ... The Brigadiers to have the
Springs, adjacent to their several encampments, well cleared and enlarged; placing Sentries over
them, to see that the water is not injured by dirty utensils. A board sunk in them, will be the best
means to keep them from being muddy, and an arbour over them will serve to preserve them
The various soldier-built shelters were particularly vulnerable to catching fire, as was the
army's tentage. At the 1782 Verplanks Point camp the following order was issued a few days
after the men were directed to construct bowers.
The present mode of encampment, tho' extremely ornamental and convenient, may, without the
utmost care subject us to the loss of our tents by fire. The Boughs of which the Colonade is
composed being so very dry, that a spark of fire or a candle falling among them would not fail to
set them instantly in a blaze. The Commander in chief therefore recomends the gratest
circumspection to the officers in their Marques and tents, and directs the officers of police to see
that the soldiers do not make use of fire or Candles carelessly in theirs.18

Such mishaps did occur from time to time. In Pennsylvania, on 13 December 1776, a Virginia
sergeant recorded, "The night past I had the misfortune to have my hut burned and most of
everything I had, a pair of new leather breeches, two shirts, stocks, and several things, I being
down with the Major and some more gentlemen at supper." Shortly after that, Col. Timothy
Pickering wrote in his journal, above Kingsbridge, New York, "January 22d. [1777] — Paraded
my regiment at daybreak. In the evening, having made a large fire before our hut, some sparks
flew upon our roof, covered with oak leaves, and in a minute the whole was in flame; but we lost
none of our baggage." In December 1777 Lieutenant Wild wrote of a similar occurrence, noting,
"Last night ... two [brush] huts were burnt in our regt." 19 Later in the war Brig, Gen. John
Patterson notified Maj. Gen. William Heath,

West Point 23rd July 1782 … Enclosed is a letter from Major Villefranche to me respecting the
Bowers of the Regiment of Artillery – I think the Magazine very much exposed by them, the
season is so very hot and dry that the leaves will burn like powder, and instance of it happened
yesterday in Col. Sprout’s Regiment, his [bower] took fire and before it could be stopped, almost
the whole of the clothing, tents, arms and accoutrements of one of his companies and part of
another were consumed.20
Bowers and British Troops, 1776 and 1781. British soldiers began building makeshift shelters
as early as 1776. They most often resorted to "wigwams," a popular appelation which probably
began as a derogatory term for any type of ad hoc shelter; as the war progressed wigwams
(usually some form of brush hut) became customarily adopted as a useful and acceptable
alternative to tents.21
Only two mentions of British army bowers during the war have been found, though it is
hardly credible that such serviceable and easily constructed shades were not more widely used.
On 13 My 1776, Capt. Sir Francis-Carr Clerke, Gen. John Burgoyne's aide-de-camp, described
in detail a large shade at Chambly, Canada:

We dine every Day under our Bower, which is much admired here. General Burgoyne
gave me the Plan, & I was chief Engineer in the Execution of it. I assure your Lordship
that it is quite Arcadian, the Dimensions are thirty by twenty, lofty in Proportion with a
covered Roof. The Front is with open Arches & before it added a Colonade, if that is the
right Name, however something like the Pantheon the Frame of the Building is finished
with strong Timbers, & the whole afterwds. covered with green Boughs, which can be
replaced from time to time with very little Trouble.22

In the next instance, the bowers were built by and for common soldiers. Near Newtown, Long
Island, Capt. John Peebles, 42d Regiment, noted:

Thursday 14th. June 1781. The Battn. assembled at Newtown Churche & marched from
thence about 6 o'Clock, the Country people furnish'd us with as many Waggons as we
wanted, as well to get quit of us, as to part with a good grace.
Came to our ground about 9 oclock about a mile to the NW of Bedford, where the
Light Infantry were Encamp'd, about which time the 2d. Battn. arrived likewise & drew
up on our left facing the Town of N:York ... got new Camp Equipage — we have very
good dry airy ground but very near a Mile to go for water & not a bush to make a shade
near [at] hand.

Sunday 17th. June 1781 ... Battn. Orders to change our ground tomorrow Morning.

Monday 18th. cloudy & cool The Tents struck at Reveilee beating & the Battn. march'd
soon after about a mile to the rear to a very good peice of ground where water is at hand,
within the old Rebel Line; we face about east, with our left to the head of the Wallabout
marsh — The Men employed in making Bowers before their Tents.23

Although no eighteenth century illustrations have been found, several from the early
nineteenth century show bowers used by civilian workers and a number of paintings and
photographs of Civil War soldiers' bowers exist. The latter disclose construction details and shed
some light on ways they may have been built by American troops eighty years earlier. The
supports used for some of these Civil War bowers were rather substantial, several looking to
have been about three inches thick. In both photographs and paintings no stabilizing ropes can be
seen; it can only be assumed that the support poles were sunk into the ground at least twelve
inches or more. Though ropes may or may not have been used for Revolutionary soldiers' shades,
in a large bower or modern reconstruction it may be necessary to incorporate them.24
While not necessarily the first choice for shelter among Revolutionary soldiers (brush huts
being more commonly used), depending upon the camp's location, weather conditions, and
available materials, bowers were a useful adjunct, and occasional alternative, to tents for shelter.
"The troops hutted with Rails and Indian Corn Stocks ..."
Sheds, Planked Huts, and Straw Tents, 1775-1777

In an army newly formed and ill supplied, or one divested of excess baggage, sufficient
tentage to cover all of the men was not immediately available. Though brush huts were the
predominant ad hoc construct used by soldiers, the first makeshift shelters built in the
Continental Army were of wooden planks and other materials taken from buildings and fences in
the vicinity of camp. For sake of convenience, we will refer to them as sheds. Reverend William
Emerson described American encampments near Boston in 1775:

It is very diverting to walk among the camps. They are as different in their form as the
owners are in their dress; and every tent is a portraiture of the temper and taste of the
persons who encamp in it. Some are made of boards, and some of sailcloth. Some partly
of one and partly of the other. Again, others are made of stone and turf, brick or brush.
Some are thrown up in a hurry; others curiously wrought with doors and windows, done
with wreathes and withes, in the manner of a basket.... I think this great variety is rather a
beauty than a blemish in the army.25

Similar shelters were seen in Virginia during the war's first years. In autumn 1775 the
Culpeper County Minute Battalion assembled prior to its departure for Williamsburg. One
member of the battalion related that the men "encamped in Clayton's old field. Some had tents,
and others huts of plank &c." The following year soldiers of a Virginia Continental battalion also
built a plank-covered structure: Head Quarters, Williamsburg, 11 April 1776, "A Subaltern is to
detach from his guard a Corpl & six men to the point on Kings below Mrs. Burwells House.... A
wooden tent [is] to be sent for the Use of the Corpl on the point of Kings Creek."26
In 1776 static encampments like those surrounding British-held Boston the previous year
blossomed around New York City. With the threat of an enemy invasion from Canada, and naval
operations against New York, transient camps became more common, and soldier-built sheds
were occasionally used. In August 1776 Brewer's Massachusetts Regiment marched from
Roxbury to Fort Ticonderoga, a journey of twenty-three days. Although tents accompanied the
troops, on at least nine days Corp. Ebenezer Wild and his fellow soldiers made use of some
alternate form of shelter for the night, mostly meetinghouses and barns. Only once did Wild
mention a makeshift shelter; on 28 August the regiment "marched to the saw mills in Castletown,
and built some huts with boards, where we lodged this night." At times sheds may have been
built into the ground, as were some winter log huts. In October 1776, near Morris Heights on
Manhattan Island, Virginia lieutenant John Chilton noted, "We have just removed from our old
encampment about 1/2 Mile into the Woods where we are building like Moonacks [groundhogs]
in the ground... [and] send out scouting parties and [t]ake plank (which we want for our hovels)."
It is uncertain whether Chilton referred to digging fortifications or living quarters; whatever the
case their "hovels" were made of plundered wood.26=7
American soldiers are known to have built plank huts on several occasions in 1777. Col.
Timothy Pickering commanded a regiment of militia from Essex County, Massachusetts. On 19
January 1777, in camp just north of Kingsbridge, New York, he noted, "We retired to quarters.
General Lincoln, and son, and myself erected a hut with rails and straw, and lodged in the
woods." In September that same year light horseman Robert Treat and his troop marched from
Bennington, Vermont, to Stillwater, New York, "There we put up for that Night[,] the best of our
Loging was in the Continettle Yard round a haystack nothing to Cover us but the Skeys and the
next day we march[ed] to head Quarters / after we got there we had orders to Look out for our
selvs... we found Good pasther for our horses and the Capt and ... other offersers thought it best
to git a few board [to] make a lettel hut out in [a] field. we Livd there two days."28
Wooden tent pictured in the German military manual, Was ist jedem Officier waehrend eines Feldzugs
zu wissen noethig. Mit zehen Kupferplatten (Carlsruhe, 1788), authored by Heinrich Medicus.

British and German troops also built sheds during the early war years. An officer recounting
the 1777 winter spent in New Brunswick, New Jersey, noted:

We expected to have gone into barracks with the Grenadiers, but we were very much
disappointed. The men were quartered in barns [the whole winter], and the officers of
three Companies [twelve men] in one room ... and half the battalion ordered on picquet
on a bleak hill without any cover but some paling and straw made into a shed, a large fire
at our feet — one side roasted and the other frozen.29

Surgeon Julius Wasmus of the Brunswick Leib Regiment served with Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne’s
1777 expedition into northern New York. He wrote of a movement on 9 August 1777:

At midnight, the standards of our regiment were taken to the headquarters of our general; this is
an indication that we are to be assigned to an important expedition. Leaving tents and baggage
behind, we set out at 5 o'clock this morning, marched to our left through the camp of the
Breymann Corps and attached ourselves to the baggage of the Fraser Corps, that had likewise set
out on the march; our march continued along the Hudson River. We found both banks of this
river settled with rather well-built houses in German style, which were all empty; the families had
fled into the wilderness with all their belongings just for fear of the Germans ... It was noon when
we entered the camp at Fort Miller. Here, we composed the right wing of the Fraser Corps and,
facing Albany, camped close by the Hudson River, which was flowing on our right. On a height
on our left, one saw a magnificent building, several respectable houses, as well as various
sawmills and gristmills, which were all empty. We made huts with boards which were lying about
in large quantities near the sawmills.30

Lt. Loftus Cliffe, 46th Regiment, referred to such shelters in January 1778: "I mount a picket
every fourth Day, have then a good Shed over me & fire & am under no apprehension of a
Surprise from the Enemy who lye west at Valley Forge about 17 or 18 Miles off." When the
situation allowed, sheds were also built in warm weather. Though tents were available in June
1777, on the fourteenth British headquarters directed that "The Men are to Erect sheds with
Pailing & Bords — The Troops to be Readay to march on the shortest notice." The last part of
the order is telling. If a hasty movement was called for, the need to strike tentage and load it onto
wagons was precluded by resorting to ad hoc shelters.31
During the 1781 Virginia campaign Crown forces often resorted to brush shelters, but the
Regiment von Bose field journal told of wooden huts in late June and early July.
25th [June, marched] to Williamsburg … The army encamped one miles before the place
but the v. Bose Regiment encamped in the town, and, as was generally the case, for the
most part guard the headquarters. This town like all the previous ones, was taken without
opposition. … On the 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th June and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, July we halted at
Williamsburg. During the interval nothing of any importance occurred except that, owing
to the want of tents, the wooden barracks erected at Williamsburg by the rebels for 5000
men were pulled down, the boards distributed among the army, and huts built with

Plank tent, circa 1800. Background detail reproduced from Charles Willson Peale's painting "The
Exhumation of the Mastodon" (1806-1808. William Ayres, ed., Picturing History: American Painting
1770-1930 (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1993), 56-57.
Plank tent, circa 1800. Background detail reproduced from Charles Willson Peale's painting "The
Exhumation of the Mastodon" (see previous page).

Farmers' fields also supplied building material for British and German soldiers during the
Philadelphia campaign. Capt. John Montresor, Royal Engineers: "This day August 25th 1777
[Sir William Howe's army] landed at head of Elk.... The troops hutted with Rails and Indian
Corn Stocks, no Baggage or Camp Equipage admitted. Came on about 10 this night a heavy
storm of Rain, Lightning and Thunder." Howe's soldiers remained in their leaky shelters for two
more days as rain and thunderstorms soaked the area.33
German captain Johann Ewald noted in September 1777, "Our gypsy dwellings ... were mostly
nothing but huts of brushwood." Other materials were also used that autumn. Early in the
nineteenth century, John F. Watson interviewed inhabitants of Germantown, several of whom
described soldiers' huts during the October 1777 British occupation. According to Jacob Miller,
who was about sixteen years old at the time, "On Taggert's ground were a great many of the
British encamped in huts, made up from the fences, and overlaid with sods." As a boy Abraham
Keyser saw, "A large body of Hessians ... hutted in Ashmead's field ... near the woods; their huts
were constructed of the rails from fences, set up at an angle of 45 [degrees], resting on a
crossbeam centre; over these were laid straw, and above the straw grass sod — they were close
and warm." A carpenter's apprentice, Benjamin Lehman, recalled that "the British... took up all
the fences and made the rails into huts, by cutting down all the buckwheat, putting it on the rails,
and ground [sod] over that. No fences remained." Old-age recollections may be suspect, but
these are corroborated by New Jersey colonel Elias Dayton, who, on 24 October, observed huts
near Philadelphia, on the west side of the Schuylkill River. The British near "Meriam Meeting
House ... had begun to build two or three redoubts, and to throw up lines of a considerable
extent. They had completed a number of very good huts, built of rails, hay and sods."34
These huts are reminiscent of "hurdled Huts" used by the Allied army (consisting of British
and Prussians, along with contingents from several smaller German principalities) in Germany
during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). Bennett Cuthbertson described them in his 1768
military manual: "If a Regiment is to Remain very late in the Field, it is more than probable, that
an order will be given ... for the Soldiers to hut.... The most expeditious and ready method, is, to
provide square hurdles, large enough to cover a Tent, when resting slope ways against the upper
edge of each other; they must be above a foot on every side longer than the Tent." (A hurdle was
a "portable rectangular frame... having horizontal bars interwoven ... with hazel, willow, etc.")35
While these "hurdles" were stacked directly over soldiers' tents, the materials used for
covering them and their advantages over tentage in cold weather echo the 1777 fence-rail huts:

These hurdles and wickers being properly made and fixed, a thick coat of thatch (either
straw, sedge, or rushes) is to be laid on them, well secured and bound: nothing can be
warmer than these habitations, when the Soldiers are in it, have drawn to the door, and
pinned the Tent quite close on every side: huts dug into the earth, or built with sods, are,
at an advanced season of the year, extremely damp, and of course unhealthy to the
Soldiers; the hurdle ones, on the contrary, are always dry, as the front can be entirely laid
open in fair weather, by removing the wicker door, and turning up the bottom of the Tent,
in such a manner, that the air may have an [un]interrupted passage round the inside of

The door consisted of "a piece of wicker-work ... fitted to the front."
The 1777 British and German huts were probably meant for long-term occupation, though in
the end most were abandoned rather soon after construction. Straw was used, or intended for use,
in shelters very early in the Revolution. In "Colledge Camp" at Williamsburg in September 1775,
the commander of the 2d Virginia Regiment remarked that "in Case, Tents are ready the
Captains are with their Companies Immediately to repair to the Camp, Other wise, Rooms are to
be looked out, & if to be had in Town they are to be Quartered in them, till tents can be had or
straw ones made to Incamp the Companies." These "tents" were likely made of bundled straw or
a frame of planks covered with straw shocks.37
Two postwar drawings show wooden tents in use. A 1788 German military manual clearly
illustrates an A-frame structure made with forked uprights and a ridgepole, covered with planks.
The same type of shelter is pictured in the background of Charles Willson Peale's painting "The
Exhumation of the Mastodon" (1806-1808), an event which took place in early nineteenth-
century New Jersey, not far from Philadelphia. Further evidence that most military makeshift
shelters had civilian counterparts.38


My thanks to Mike Barbieri, Charles Beale, Don Hagist, Steve Rayner, and Gregory Urwin
form their contributions to this work.

1. Sources of makeshift shelter names: "brush Hutt," "Journal of Lieut. William McDowell of the
First Penn'a. Regiment, in the Southern Campaign, 1781-1782," in John Blair Linn and
William H. Egle, Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution, Battalions and Line 1775-1783,
(Harrisburg, 1880), 298-99 (hereafter cited as Linn and Egle, Pennsylvania in the War of the
Revolution); "bush housen," "buth" (booth), and "housan of branchis & leavs," Diary of a
Common Soldier in the American Revolution: An Annotated Edition of the Military Journal of
Jeremiah Greenman, ed. Robert C. Bray and Paul E. Bushnell (DeKalb: Northern Illinois
University Press, 1978), 87, 98 (note 131), 174 (hereafter cited as Bray and Bushnell, Diary of
a Common Soldier); "hemlock bowhouses," Journal of Jehiel Stewart, 1775-1776,
Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty — Land — Warrant Application Files, Microfilm
Publication M804, reel 2290, W25138, Record Group 15, National Archives, Washington,
DC (hereafter cited as Pension Files, NA); "huts [of] brush and leaves," "Journal of Ebenezer
Wild," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2d ser., 6 (1891): 105 (hereafter
cited as "Journal of Ebenezer Wild").
2. R.A. Brock, ed., "Orderly Book of the Company of Captain George Stubblefield, Fifth
Virginia Regiment, From March 3, 1776, to July 10, 1776, Inclusive," Virginia Historical
Society Collections, n.s., 6 (1887): 186.
3. Regimental orders, 27 May 1777, Order Book of Col. Daniel Morgan's llth Virginia Regiment,
New Jersey, 15 May-9 June 1777, Early American Orderly Books 1748-1817, microfilm
edition (Woodbridge, NJ, 1977), reel 4, item 45, Collections of The New-York Historical
Society; Miscellaneous notes for August 1777, diary end sheets, Diary of John Chilton,
captain, 3d Virginia Regiment, A. Keith Family Papers, 1710-1916, Virginia Historical
Society, Richmond (hereafter cited as John Chilton Diary, VHS); Joseph Plumb Martin,
Private Yankee Doodle — A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of
a Revolutionary Soldier, ed. George E. Scheer (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1962), 266
(hereafter cited as Martin, Private Yankee Doodle).
4. Journal of Lt. Erkuries Beatty, 4th Pennsylvania Regiment, 25 September 1779, Journals of
the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan Against the Six Nations of Indians in
1779 (Auburn, NY, 1887; reprint, Glendale, NY: Benchmark Publishing Co., 1970), 34.
5. Journal of Capt. Daniel Livermore, 3d New Hampshire Regiment, 5 July 1779, ibid., 182.
6. James Thacher, Military Journal of the American Revolution (Hartford: Hurlbut, Williams &
Co., 1862), 204.
7. "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," 145, 147.
8. "Itinerary of the Pennsylvania Line From Pennsylvania to South Carolina, 1781-
1782,"Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 36 (1912): 281; "Journal of Captain
John Davis of the Pennsylvania Line," ibid., 5 (1881): 298.
9. "Orderly Book of Gen. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, March 26-December 20, 1777," ibid.,
34 (1910), 345; Division orders, 2 August 1778, Orderly Book of the First Pennsylvania
Regiment, 26 July 1778-6 December 1778, in Linn and Egle, Pennsylvania in the War of the
Revolution, 2: 297.
10. George Washington to Thomas Blanch, 24 August 1780, The Writings of George Washington
from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, 39 vols.
(Washington: GPO, 1937), 19: 433—34 (hereafter cited as Fitzpatrick, Writings of
Washington); Bray and Bushnell, Diary of a Common Soldier, 172—88.
11. Division orders, 9 July 1780, Orderly Book of the First Pennsylvania Regiment, Col. James
Chambers, 13 June 1780-5 August 1780, in Linn and Egle, Pennsylvania in the War of the
Revolution, 2: 545.
12. "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," 143-45.
13. "The Papers of General Samuel Smith; The General's Autobiography," The Historical
Magazine, 7, 2d ser., no. 2 (February 1870): 91.
14. General orders, 1-2 September 1782, Order Book, 2 August 1782-14 November 1782,
Numbered Record Books Concerning Military Operations and Service, Pay and Settlement
Accounts, and Supplies in the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records
(National Archives Microfilm Publications M853), vol. 64, reel 10, target 7, 83-87
(Washington, DC, 1973), Record Group 93, NA.
15. Bray and Bushnell, Diary of a Common Soldier, 258.
16. Marquis de Chastellux, Travels in North America in the Years 1780-1781-1782 (N.p., 1827;
reprint, New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1970), 67-68.
17. General orders, 3 June 1777, Fitzpatrick, Writings of Washington, vol. 8 (1933), 175.
18. General orders, 8 September 1782, ibid., vol. 25 (1938), 138-39.
19. "The Revolutionary War Journal of Sergeant Thomas McCarty," ed. Jared C. Lobdell,
Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, 82, 1 (January 1964): 40; Octavius
Pickering, The Life of Timothy Pickering, 2 vols. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1867), 1:100
(hereafter cited as Life of Timothy Pickering); "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," 105.
20. Thomas Egleston, The Life of John Paterson, Major-General in the Revolutionary Army
(New York, London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1898), 271.
21. "17. [September 1776] ... Very wet m[ornin]g. p.m. Cleared. No tents, built wigwams ...,"
"Bamford's Diary: The Revolutionary Diary of a British Officer," Maryland Historical
Magazine, 27 (September 1932): 9; "Thursday 18th [June 1778] ... the Troops march'd to
within 2 miles of Haddonfield where they Encampd in the usual manner, vizt. Wigwams...,"
Journal of John Peebles, Scottish Record Office, Edinburgh; Cunninghame of Thorntoun
Papers (GD 21), Papers of Lt., later Capt., John Peebles of the 42d. Foot, 1776-1782, incl. 13
notebooks comprising his journal, book 6, 1778, Monmouth Campaign, ibid. (hereafter cited
as John Peebles Journal, Scottish Record Office). Concerning the British army commanded by
Charles, Lord Cornwallis, in Virginia, spring and summer 1781: "Our encampments were
always chosen on the banks of a stream, and were extremely picturesque, as we had no tents,
and were obliged to construct wigwams of fresh boughs to keep off the rays of the sun during
the day," Samuel Graham, 76th Regiment, "An English Officer's Account of his Services in
America— 1779-1781. Memoirs of Lt.-General Samuel Graham," Historical Magazine
(1865): 269.
22. Don N. Hagist, "Notes and Queries," The Brigade Dispatch, 29, no. 3 (Autumn 1999): 28
(original citation given as "Letters to Lord Polwarth from Sir Francis-Carr Clerke, Aide-de-
Camp to General John Burgoyne," New York History, 79, no. 4 [October 1998]: 413). Captain
Sir Francis-Carr Clerke was in the 3d Regiment of Foot Guards.
23. Journal entries, 14, 17 and 18 June 1781, John Peebles Journal, Scottish Record Office, book
12, pp. 37, 38.
24. William Henry Pyne, Microcosm or, A Delineation of the Arts, Agriculture, and
Manufactures of Great Britain in a Series of above a Thousand Groups of Small Figures for
the Embellishment of Landscape (London, 1806; reprint, New York: Benjamin Blom, 1971),
four illustrations of bowers as used by farmworkers, 113, 138. In the American Civil War
(1861-1865) large bowers were commonly used for outdoor offices, dining or rest areas, or to
shade officers' and soldiers' tents. Pictorial evidence of the extensive use of freestanding
bowers by both sides in the war is overwhelming. See also John U. Rees, "'Shebangs,'
'Shades,' and Shelter Tents: An Overview of Civil War Soldiers' Campaign Shelters,"
(unpublished ms., author's collection).
25. Herbert T. Wade and Robert A. Lively, "this glorious cause ...": The Adventures of Two
Company Officers in Washington's Army (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958), 25.
26. John R. Elting, ed., Military Uniforms in America, The Era of the American Revolution,
1755-1795 (San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press, 1974), 110; Charles Campbell, ed., The Orderly
Book of That Portion of the American Army Stationed At or Near Williamsburg, Va., Under
the Command of General Andrew Lewis From March 18th, 1776 to August 28th, 1776
(Richmond: privately printed, 1860), 20-21.
27. "Journal of Ebenezer Wild," 78-83; John Chilton to his brothers, 6 October 1776, John
Chilton letters, A. Keith Family Papers, 1710-1916, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond;
"Moonacks," see monack in Richard M. Lederer Jr., Colonial American English (Essex, CT:
Verbatim, 1985), 150.
28. Life of Timothy Pickering, 2: 99; Robert Treat's Journal, Capt. Isaac Treat's Co., Major Elijah
Hyde's Troop or Regiment of Connecticut Light Horse, 19 August to 30 September 1777, reel
2411, Pension Files, NA. See also Fred Anderson Berg, Encyclopedia of Continental Army
Units (Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1972), 50.
29. Martin Hunter, The Journal of Gen. Sir Martin Hunter (Edinburgh: The Edinburgh Press,
1894), 24.
30. J.F. Wasmus, An Eyewitness Account of the American Revolution and New England Life: The
Journal of J.F. Wasmus, German Company Surgeon, 1776-1783, Mary C. Lynn, ed. (Westport,
Ct.: Praeger, 1990)
31. Fiche header: Journal of the Regiment von Bose, 1776-83, Fiche 295-298, Letter S; S.61 and
S.62 - Full Title: Journal of the Honorable Hessian Infantry Regiment of Lieutenant General von
Bose Lidgerwood Collection, Morristown National Historical Park, Morristown, NJ
32. Loftus Cliffe to "Bat," 20 January 1778, Loftus Cliffe Papers, William L. Clements Library,
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; General orders, 14 June 1777; Regimental orders, 19
June 1777, British Orderly Book (40th Regiment of Foot), 20 April 1777 to 28 August 1777,
George Washington Papers, Presidential Papers Microfilm (Washington, 1961), series 6B,
vol. 1, reel 117, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington.
33. "Journal of Captain John Montresor, July 1, 1777 to July 1, 1778," The Pennsylvania
Magazine of History and Biography, 5 (Winter 1881): 409.
34. Johann Ewald, Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal, ed. and trans. Joseph P.
Tustin (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), 80; John F. Watson, Annals of
Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in the Olden Time, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: John Penington and
Uriah Hunt, 1844), 2: 40, 55, 59; "Papers of General Elias Dayton," Proceedings of the New
Jersey Historical Society, 3 (1848-1849): 187.
35. Bennett Cuthbertson, System for the Compleat Interior Management and Oeconomy of a
Battalion of Infantry (Dublin, 1768), 40-41; The Compact Edition of the Oxford English
Dictionary, s.v. "Hurdle."
36. Cuthbertson, op. cit.
37. Brent Tarter, ed., "The Orderly Book of the Second Virginia Regiment, September 27,1775-
April 15, 1776," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 85, no. 2 (April 1977):
38. Wooden tent or plank hut illustrated in Was ist jedem Officier waehrend eines Feldzugs zu
wissen noethig ["What it is necessary for each officer to know during a campaign"]
(Carlsruhe, 1788), pl. 9; William Ayres, ed., Picturing History: American Painting 1770-1930
(New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1993), 56-57.

“The … roof consists of boughs, or branches … curiously interwoven …”
The “curious edifice” Built at West Point to Celebrate French Dauphin’s Birth
(With thanks to John K. Robertson)

“June 1st. [1782] -Yesterday was celebrated the birth of the Dauphin of France, by a
magnificent festival. The edifice under which the company assembled and partook of the
entertainment was erected on the plain at West Point.” James Thacher (surgeon, 9th
Massachusetts Regiment), Military Journal of the American Revolution (Hartford: Hurlbut,
Williams & Co., 1862)
Image from Edward C. Boynton, History of West Point : and its military importance
during the American revolution ; and the origin and progress of the United States military
academy (Publisher London: Sampson Low, Son, & Marston, 1864)

James Thacher’s Diary.
“May 30th. [1782] -I returned to New Boston last evening from Boston, having been absent forty-four
days, which is one day short my furlough; our journey to Boston occupied nine days, being impeded by
foul weather and bad roads. We were on horseback, attended by a servant, and took our route through
Connecticut and Providence. Here we spent a pleasant evening with Lieutenant-Governor Bowen; he and
Doctor Eustis engaged in conversation respecting the properties of coffee; Governor Bowen asserted that
it is a sedative, while the doctor contended for its stimulant effects, and he certainly had the best of the
argument. Having arrived at Boston, Doctor Eustis kindly introduced me to his father's family, where I
received hospitable and polite civilities. I proceeded to Plymouth and Barnstable, where I had the
satisfaction of a family interview, after an absence of four years. Great preparations are making at West
Point, to celebrate the birth of the young Dauphin of France; being in alliance with his Most Christian
Majesty, propriety requires that we should celebrate the joyous event of the birth of his first son. His
Excellency General Washington has, in general orders, given an invitation to all officers of the army, and
they are requested to invite any friends or acquaintance they may have in the country to participate in the
grand festival.
On the 6th instant a dangerous mutiny was discovered among the soldiers of the Connecticut line. It had
been conducted with so much address and secrecy, that it was on the point of execution before it was
divulged. The defection was general in the line: the soldiers had determined at reveille the next morning
to have marched from their cantonments with arms, &c., complete, for Fishkill, where they intended to
take a number of field-pieces with ammunition and provisions, and proceed to Hartford, and there
demand of the Assembly that justice which they consider their due. At the moment the officers were
retiring to bed, a faithful soldier, who was a waiter, informed his officer that he could not retire to rest
without divulging an event which would assuredly take place the next morning at day-light. The most
guilty soldiers were immediately seized and confined, and the ringleader was sentenced to suffer death,
which happily frustrated the whole design. It is but just to observe, that the Connecticut line of troops
have during the war, except in this instance, conducted in a very exemplary and meritorious manner.
June 1st.-Yesterday was celebrated the birth of the Dauphin of France, by a magnificent festival.
The edifice under which the company assembled and partook of the entertainment was erected on
the plain at West Point. The situation was romantic, and the occasion novel and interesting. Major
Villefranche, an ingenious French engineer, has been employed with one thousand men about ten
days in constructing the curious edifice. It is composed of the simple materials which the common
trees in this vicinity afford. It is about six hundred feet in length and thirty feet wide, supported by
a grand colonnade of one hundred and eighteen pillars, made of the trunks of trees. The covering of
the roof consists of boughs, or branches of trees curiously interwoven, and the same materials form
the walls, leaving the ends entirely open. On the inside, every pillar was encircled with muskets and
bayonets, bound round in a fanciful and handsome manner, and the whole interior was decorated
with evergreens, with American and French military colors, and a variety of emblems and devices,
all adjusted in such style as to beautify the whole interior of the fabric. This superb structure, in
symmetry of proportion, neatness of workmanship, and elegance of arrangement, has seldom
perhaps been surpassed on any temporary occasion; it affected the spectators with admiration and
pleasure, and reflects much credit on the taste and ability of Major Villefranche. Several
appropriate mottos decorated the grand edifice, pronouncing benedictions on the dauphin and
happiness to the two allied nations. The whole army was paraded on the contiguous hills on both
sides of the river, forming a circle of several miles in open view of the public edifice, and at the
given signal of firing three cannon, the regimental officers all left their commands, and repaired to
the building to partake of the entertainment which had been prepared by order of the commander-
in-chief. At five o'clock, dinner being on the table, his Excellency General Washington and lady and
suite, the principal officers of the army and their ladies, Governor Clinton and his lady, and a
number of respectable characters from the states of New York and New Jersey, moved from Major-
General McDougall's quarters through the line formed by Colonel Crane's regiment of artillery to
the arbor, where more than five hundred gentlemen and ladies partook of a magnificent festival. A
martial band charmed our senses with music, while we feasted our appetites and gazed with
admiration on the illustrious guests and the novel spectacle exhibited to our view. The cloth being
removed, thirteen appropriate toasts were drank, each one being announced by the discharge of
thirteen cannon and accompanied by music. The guests retired from the table at seven o'clock, and
the regimental officers repaired to their respective commands. The arbor was, in the evening,
illuminated by a vast number of lights, which being arranged in regular and tasteful order,
exhibited a scene vieing in brilliancy with the starry firmament. The officers having rejoined their
regiments, thirteen cannon were again fired as a prelude to a general feu de joie, which immediately
succeeded throughout the whole line of the army on the surrounding hills; and being three times
repeated, the mountains resounded and echoed like tremendous peals of thunder, and the flashing
from thousands of fire-arms in the darkness of evening, could be compared only to the most vivid
flashes of lightning from the clouds. The feu de joie was immediately followed by three shouts of
acclamation and benediction for the dauphin, by the united voices of the whole army on all sides. At
half-past eleven o'clock, the celebration was concluded by the exhibition of fire-works, very
ingeniously constructed of various figures. His Excellency General Washington was unusually
cheerful. He attended the ball in the evening, and with a dignified and graceful air, having Mrs.
Knox for his partner, carried down a dance of twenty couple in the arbor on the green grass.
June 20th.-Dined by invitation with Major-General Howe, at his quarters at Robinson's house, with
several respectable guests.
23d.-The officers of our regiment prepared an entertainment and invited a respectable party. At three
o'clock we repaired to an arbor erected for the occasion, under which a long table was spread and a
variety of dishes arranged in proper style; we prided ourselves on our camp dinner, as being almost on a
par with that of a country gentleman. A band of military music attended, and we finished with toasts and
songs in social glee.
July.-Our brigade moved out of huts on the first instant, and encamped at Nelson's point, on the bank of
the Hudson, opposite West Point.
On the 4th, the anniversary of the declaration of our Independence was celebrated in camp. The whole
army was formed on the banks of the Hudson on each side of the river. The signal of thirteen cannon
being given at West Point, the troops displayed and formed in a line, when a general feu de joie took place
throughout the whole army.”