May 18, 2017

Museum of the American Revolution Honors America’s First Fallen Soldiers during Memorial Day Weekend

Free Costumed Historical Intepreters and Storytellers on the Museum's Outdoor Plaza, $5 off Museum Admission for Veterans, Family-Friendly Activities and More

PHILADELPHIA, MAY 18, 2017 — This Memorial Day weekend, the Museum of the American Revolution pays tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in service to their country during the American Revolution, and celebrates the freedoms they fought to secure for future generations.

Highlights of the Museum’s artifacts and exhibits that explore these stories include the sword of fallen Revolutionary General Hugh Mercer; the gravestone of Maryland Captain Michael Cresap; and a leather cap that Captain-Lieutenant Benajah Carpenter was wearing when he was killed at the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776, among many others. Visitors will receive a printed guide to these features.
 

Throughout the weekend, visitors are encouraged to post notes on a large panel in the Museum’s rotunda to express their gratitude to America’s servicemembers. Carnations will be available for visitors to place on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Revolution at Independence National Historical Park's Washington Square, which is located just two blocks from the Museum. In partnership with Friends of Independence National Historical Park, the Museum will collect donations to support maintenance of the Tomb. 

“The Museum of the American Revolution tells the stories of many of our nation’s first fallen soldiers and honors those whose names we don’t know,” said Michael Quinn, Museum President and CEO. “The outcome of the American Revolution was never certain, but thousands of brave men and women were willing to take that risk in order to build an independent American nation. To this day, American servicemembers continue to put their lives on the line to preserve and protect the freedoms we all enjoy today. We can never repay the debt of gratitude we owe them.”

Artifacts and exhibits that explore the stories of those who lost their lives in service include:

  • A sword that belonged to General Hugh Mercer, a fallen hero of the American Revolution and a close friend of George Washington, which is on loan to the Museum from the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia. General Mercer was mortally wounded at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777. 
  • The original gravestone of Captain Michael Cresap, which is on loan from the New York Historical Society. Cresap led a rifle battalion from Maryland in 1775. He fell ill soon after arriving at Washington’s headquarters in Cambridge, and died in New York City on his way home to recover. A reproduction of the tombstone now stands at the Trinity Churchyard on Wall Street, where he is buried.
  • A leather cap (circa 1776), which is on loan from the Varnum Memorial Armory Museum, bearing the anchor from the Rhode Island state seal and the mottoes “For Our Country” and In Te Domine Speramus (roughly, “In God we hope”). Captain-Lieutenant Benajah Carpenter, of the Rhode Island Train of Artillery, was wearing the cap when he was killed at the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776. Carpenter bravely commanded two field artillery pieces on the American right. Before he was killed, his troops forced British General James Grant’s light infantry to pull back from an advanced assault.
  • A cannon ball from the site of Fort Washington, New York where Margaret Corbin’s husband lost his life while fighting as part of the American artillery in 1776. Corbin took over her husband’s cannon duties and was badly wounded herself.
  • A silver-hilted sword, which belonged to Lieutenant-Colonel George Wilson of the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment. In December 1776, Lt. Col. Wilson and his men marched from Western Pennsylvania to the banks of the Delaware to reinforce Washington’s Army. Like many other soldiers and officers in this campaign, Wilson succumbed to disease and to the freezing weather. He died in February 1777. His fellow soldiers returned the sword to his family, who passed it down through the generations until donating it to the museum.
  • A fowling piece (firearm) made by Seth Pomeroy of Massachusetts, who died while leading troops south to reinforce Washington’s army in 1777. The gun is displayed in the “Arms of Independence” case, which features nearly 50 Revolutionary War-era weapons and artifacts, most of which have never been displayed before.
  • A pair of baby booties, made from the pilfered coat of a British soldier, which belonged to Sgt. James Davenport, a Massachusetts native who lost his brother in the fight for independence.
  • A portrait (circa 1780) of Philadelphian Benjamin Flower, painted by brothers James and Charles Willson Peale. Flower was a hatter living just a few blocks from Third & Chestnut when the Revolutionary War broke out. He was an early supporter of the Revolutionary cause, joining the Philadelphia Associators and marching to support Washington’s army near New York in July 1776. Flower died in 1781 in Philadelphia due to sickness while he served as the Commissary General of Military Stores.
  • An interactive feature spotlights the role of the Oneida Indians at the Battle of Barren Hill (northwest of Philadelphia) on May 20, 1778. A plaque at St. Peter’s Church Cemetery in Barren Hill, Pennsylvania memorializes six of the Oneida fighters thought to have fallen in the battle.   
  • The Field of Battle theater, which immerses visitors in the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777, during which many soldiers on both sides lost their lives. 
  • The Revolutionary Generation, a display of photographs of 70 men and women who lived through the American Revolution and survived into the age of photography. These moving photographs offer an extraordinary opportunity to see the faces of the Revolutionary generation, many of whom lost loved ones in the struggle to establish a new nation and who carried forward the ideals of liberty, equality, and self-government.

Throughout the weekend, visitors also will meet costumed historical interpreters on the Museum’s outdoor plaza and participate in family-friendly activities, which will take place from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. daily in the Museum’s first-floor Patriots Gallery. Guests can imagine what it meant to go to war in the Revolution by drilling like soldiers, trying on uniforms, and testing their survival skills by packing a knapsack to join the Continental Army. They also can design a flag and make a sash like the one worn by General George Washington to take home. Additionally, each visitor will receive a complimentary miniature version of General George Washington’s Standard flag, which marked his presence on the battlefield. 

Beginning Memorial Day weekend, visitors also will learn about our nation’s history from Once Upon A Nation storytellers at their newest storytelling bench located in the Museum’s outdoor plaza. The engaging storytellers will bring to life the stories of James Forten, a free black 14-year-old who joined a privateer ship; Deborah Sampson, a woman who dressed as a man in order to fight in the Revolutionary War; and the Philadelphia beginnings to the relationship between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

Veterans will receive $5 off admission throughout Memorial Day weekend (May 27-29). General admission tickets can be purchased here and are $19 for adults; $17 for seniors, students, and active or retired military; and $12 for children ages 6 and up. Children ages 5 and under are free. All tickets are valid for two consecutive days. Group tickets for parties of 15 or more are currently available for a discounted price by calling 267.858.3308. Memberships are also available for purchase at http://www.amrevmuseum.org/support/membership or by calling 215.253.6731.

About the Museum of the American Revolution
The Museum of the American Revolution explores the dynamic story of the American Revolution using its rich collection of Revolutionary-era weapons, personal items, letters, diaries, and works of art. Immersive galleries, theater experiences, and recreated historical environments bring to life the events, people, and ideals of our nation’s founding and engage people in the history and continuing relevance of the American Revolution. Located just steps away from Independence Hall, Carpenters’ Hall, and Franklin Court, the Museum serves as a portal to the region’s many Revolutionary sites, sparking interest, providing context, and encouraging exploration. The Museum is a private, non-profit, and non-partisan organization. For more information, visit www.AmRevMuseum.org or call 877.740.1776