The next stop on the Martha Washington Slept Here tour is in Newburgh, New York, the headquarters from March 1782 through around July 1783. The Hasbrouck House had a good view of the Hudson River and was conveniently located near town. George and Martha left Philadelphia in late March 1782 to move the HQ to this location, which was apparently a very tight fit for George’s household and “family”—the military aides supporting him.
In July 1782 Martha left New York to go home to Mount Vernon. On the way through Pennsylvania, the Assembly presented her with a coach and when she arrived back in Virginia, the city of Williamsburg gave her gold medals and the freedom of the city. Keep in mind that at this point in the American Revolution the war was practically over, though skirmishes continued in various places and Charleston was still besieged by the British. (The British left Charleston mid-December 1782, an event depicted in my A More Perfect Union historical romance series at the end of Samantha’s Secret (#3). The lavish gifts bestowed on Martha showed the people’s great esteem of her and her husband in the effort to win freedom for the country.
George stayed in Newburgh, eventually realizing he wasn’t going to be able to go home as he’d hoped. In October, he wrote to Martha asking her to return to the camp. So in November, she got in her coach and headed north. Little did she realize just how long she’d be away from home! Naturally, upon her return to camp she slipped into familiar routines of socializing, sewing, and she reportedly even planted a garden.
In February 1783, they marked the fifth anniversary of alliance with France by George pardoning all military prisoners. I suspect Martha attended the release or at least was in the room when the freed prisoners came to thank George. I think she’d want to celebrate along with her husband in every way possible on such an auspicious day.
It wasn’t until April 18 that the day’s General Orders announced the cessation of hostilities between the United States of America and the King of Great Britain. Only then could George begin the work involved in ending the army’s engagement and sending the enlisted men and officers home. That effort would take several months and include another change of the headquarters location.
But that summer of 1783 Martha became very ill with a fever. While she suffered and slowly recovered, George was forced to move the headquarters to New Jersey. From what I’ve read of her illness, she seemed to suffer a great deal over the hot summer months. As soon as she was well enough in late August, Martha also moved to New Jersey, the topic of next week’s post.
In case you’ve missed the earlier posts, so far I’ve covered these camps:
The first winter headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775.
The second winter headquarters in Morristown, NJ, in 1776.
Then Valley Forge in 1777-78.
Next at Middlebrook from 1778-79.
Next at Morristown, NJ from 1779-1780.
Next in New Windsor, NY from 1780-1781.
Back to Pennsylvania and the John Penn House in Philadelphia from 1781-1782.
I often find myself thinking about the life Martha led and how different it must have wound up being from what she’d imagined as a girl growing up on a middling plantation. She went from obscurity to renowned and reverenced by a nation. What a concept, eh?
Until next time, may your reading take you many places!
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Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.
Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.
But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.