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GUEST BLOG: This Veterans Day, Salute the Revolutionary War Veterans who Built America!


The Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown in 1781 wasn’t an ending; it was the beginning of a new journey for the soldiers and citizens who fought for America’s independence. At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, you can explore these veterans’ accounts in the museum’s first special exhibition, AfterWARd: The Revolutionary Veterans Who Built America.


What happened to the men and women who walked off the battlefield at Yorktown, to begin new chapters of their lives in the early years of the United States? That's the question. Now through November 27, 2017, you can enjoy a glimpse into those little known post-war stories. Some names you'll recognize—heavy hitters such as George Washington, Charles Cornwallis, Henry Knox, Alexander Hamilton, James Lafayette, and the Marquis de Lafayette. But other names may be new to you—names like Lt. Col. Tench Tilghman of Maryland.

Special artifacts, portraits, and interactive displays will help you make connections between veterans, both past and present. Among the more than 60 artifacts on loan from American and British museums is a large gun captured in India by forces under Cornwallis. Cornwallis served there as Governor General after the Revolution. It's on loan from the Royal Armouries in Leeds, England. 


Dove of Peace Weathervane (1787). Courtesy of the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.

Another unique item on display is a copper dove of peace weathervane which greets you as soon as you enter the exhibit. The brilliant piece was commissioned by George Washington as a symbol of the hope for peace and prosperity in our new nation. The weathervane is on loan from the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, and once adorned America’s first president’s home at Mount Vernon.

Alexander Hamilton's Lap Desk Images by Marianita Peaslee

Lap desk belonging to Alexander Hamilton circa 1800

Dept. of Special Collections, Burke Library, Hamilton College


Other notable exhibition features include: Alexander Hamilton’s own portable writing desk from Hamilton College, Henry Knox’s original Society of the Cincinnati eagle medal, and a decorated carriage commissioned for the use of the Marquis de Lafayette’s farewell tour of the United States in 1824. The carriage is on loan from the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana. 

Lafayette-Carriage-c1824-Courtesy-of-the-Studebaker-National-MuseumCarriage that carried the Marquis de Lafayette on his 1824-1825 American "Farewell Tour"
Courtesy of the Studebaker National Museum of South Bend, Indiana

A Continental Congress presentation sword awarded to Lt. Col. Tench Tilghman, circa 1785, courtesy of The Society of the Cincinnati, is also on display.

Continental Congress Presentation Sword, circa 1785

Continental Congress Presentation Sword, circa 1785

There is also a short film and two interactive displays, which challenge (and hopefully inspire) you to make personal connections with veterans from the 18th century through 21st century. One of the interactives prompts you to answer questions about yourself to see if you've ever “crossed paths” or have common traits or experiences shared by Hamilton, Knox, James Lafayette, or the Marquis de Lafayette.


An interactive “Legacy Wall” multimedia display highlights stories and images of veterans from all eras of American history—from Colin Powell and Johnny Cash to Neil Armstrong and Julia Child. While learning about these veterans, you can also add your own stories of servicemen and women to the wall. Your entry will be displayed in the exhibit.


There’s even a free mobile app, available for Android and iPhone, which gives you access to videos and interviews with scholars on a variety of topics that expand on stories revealed in the “AfterWARd” special exhibition. You can download the app from home or at the museum through Google Play or the Apple App Store.

The special exhibition is sponsored in part by Altria Group, with additional support from the Virginia Society Sons of the American Revolution, James D. and Pamela J. Penny and Harry and Judy Wason.

Meet the Blogger:  Katherine Egner Gruber

Katherine is the Special Exhibitions Curator at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. She is part of the curatorial team that develops exhibits for the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, including AfterWARd which opened in June of this year. She is also responsible for the introductory film many of you may have watched when you first enter the Museum. 

Last year, Kate had the opportunity to speak about James Lafayette at the International Spy Museum for the Smithsonian Series “Spies of the American Revolution.” Before joining the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation in 2013, she worked at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. There, she assisted with the development, research, and production of the Foundation’s Electronic Field Trip series; served as a John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library Fellow; and was the associate digital content specialist in the Digital History Center. 

Kate earned her bachelor’s degree in historic preservation and classical humanities from the University of Mary Washington. She also holds a master's degree in American History from the College of William & Mary.  

About the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Stories of citizens and soldiers unfold at the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (formerly the Yorktown Victory Center), which tells anew the story of the nation’s founding, from the twilight of the colonial period to the dawn of the Constitution and beyond.  Immersive indoor exhibits and films and interactive outdoor living-history experiences capture the transformational nature and epic scale of the Revolution and its relevance today.  

Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is located at 200 Water Street, in Yorktown, Virginia, near Yorktown Battlefield.

The special exhibition is included with museum admission: $12.00 for adults, $7.00 for ages 6-12, and free for children under age 6. York County residents receive free admission to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown throughout the year with proof of residency.

For more about the special exhibition, call the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown at (757) 253-4838 or visit