Mu­seum

The Commercial Appeal - - Sun­day Break -

those posted on such trees in the build up to the Rev­o­lu­tion and pe­riod re­pro­duc­tion lanterns made by tin­smiths at Colo­nial Wil­liams­burg will hang from the branches evok­ing 1766 Bos­ton.

An ac­tual piece of the An­napo­lis, Mary­land, Lib­erty Tree is embed­ded on the dis­play, and passers-by are en­cour­aged to touch it.

The An­napo­lis tulip poplar was the na­tion’s last sur­viv­ing Lib­erty Tree. It was so dam­aged by storms and de­cay it had to be cut down in 1999.

March into bat­tle

The mu­seum’s interactive ex­hibits let vis­i­tors get up close to weapons and in­volved in a key Bri­tish vic­tory on the road to cap­tur­ing Philadelphia.

The Bat­tle­field Theater turns tourists into sol­diers for a few in­tense min­utes. Vis­i­tors are gath­ered in groups of 25 and are taught how to muster like a com­pany and march to­gether into the theater, which soon trans­forms into the Brandy­wine Bat­tle­field, site of one of the most sig­nif­i­cant skir­mishes of the Philadelphia cam­paign on Sept. 11, 1777.

Wash­ing­ton’s loss there was a key step in the Bri­tish cap­ture of Philadelphia. The floor shakes with ex­plo­sions, the air fills with smoke and the smell of gun­pow­der and vis­i­tors are face to face with the Bri­tish in­fantry.

The Arms of In­de­pen­dence sec­tion has a vast dis­play of weapons used dur­ing the war, and in­cludes a fife and drum. A dig­i­tal interactive dis­play that filmed each weapon in high-def­i­ni­tion video lets vis­i­tors vir­tu­ally han­dle each weapon — or in­stru­ment — and learn more about their uses, own­ers and mak­ers.

Chil­dren of war

A trio of dis­plays high­lights the ex­pe­ri­ences of chil­dren dur­ing the war.

In a cor­ner of a glass case that could eas­ily be missed are four small toys worth ex­am­in­ing. They were ex­ca­vated from Bri­tish Revo­lu­tion­ary War camp­sites around New York City. There’s a small, white stoneware lamb, a tiny pewter goose and a lit­tle pewter toy broom and plat­ter.

In a sep­a­rate glass case hangs a set of tiny wrist shack­les likely forged to re­strain a child. At the start of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, slav­ery was le­gal in ev­ery colony. That meant all chil­dren of enslaved black moth­ers were also slaves.

De­scen­dants of a Mas­sachusetts soldier do­nated a new­born’s shoes that were made from a Bri­tish red coat that was brought back at the end of the war and pre­served through gen­er­a­tions. Writ­ten ac­counts tell the story of the young man who went off to war in 1775, rose to the po­si­tion of sergeant in 1783, lost his brother in an at­tack that ended in a mass grave burial, and re­turned home to marry and have a child.

About 10 per­cent of Bri­tish sol­diers who ar­rived in New York in 1776 had their wives and chil­dren with them.

AP

Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s head­quar­ters tent, which served as his of­fice and sleep­ing quar­ters through­out much of the war, is on dis­play at the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion in Philadelphia.

A sec­tion of the North Bridge, the site of a fate­ful con­fronta­tion between colonists and Bri­tish reg­u­lars, is on ex­hibit at the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion in Philadelphia. The frag­ment gives a tan­gi­ble sense of “the shot heard ’round the world,” which opened the Bat­tle of Lex­ing­ton Green, and was the first mil­i­tary en­gage­ment of the war on April 19, 1775.

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