Skip to Content

A Look at the Material Culture of George Washington: Revolutionary Soldiers and Their Portrayal in American Society

1 Favorite 1 Copy (view)

This collection seeks to present and display aspects of revolutionary soldier's lives, their time during war and their eventual portrayal in American history. This collection will analyze all of this by studying their material culture and by focusing at possibly the most famous soldier from the American Revolution, George Washington.

The following items can give us insight into what life was like for some of the historically notable figures of the American Revolution through drafted resolutions, clothing and uniforms that soldiers wore, weapons that they used, and later works that showed the popular view of the figures in the American Revolution.

Item One- Regimental Uniform Coat of Colonel Peter Gansevoort Jr, 1777

Item Two- Colonial Powder Horn

Item Three- George Washington's Sword and Scabbard, 1765

Item Four- Braddock Pistol (Gift given to George Washington), 1777

Item Five- George Washington's Uniform, 1789

Item Six- George Washington's Camp Chest, 1776-1781

Item Seven- Pitcher Displaying "Washington/Independence", 1800

Item Eight-Samuel Williams' "A History of the American Revolution", 1795

Item Nine-Piece of George Washington's Coffin (Gifted to Leverett Saltonstall), 1840

Item Ten- Frank Mayer's Painting of Continental Soldiers at Bunker Hill, 1876

These items display different aspects of the Revolutionary War showing the beginning of the war with the drafting of soldiers, then showing what other items they

The uniform worn by Colonel Gansevoort and was more than likely made from cloth imported of France and was likely not highly common but showed his rank and what some Continental soldiers may have worn.

The powder horn shows what a typical tool used by soldiers may have looked like and shows just one example of the amount of time soldiers spent personalizing these items.

Washington's sword holds value as it was a weapon used during the war and it is an item that still held value as an historically important item to the people it was passed down to. The sword was valued by the family members that it was passed down until it was donated to the US government.

The Braddock pistol and Washington's uniform also show us what some of the personal items of Washington looked like and the amount of value that was placed on items such as these. Both items were written about by Washington personally and when he misplaced the pistol he seemed very concerned about finding it again.

The camp chest show us one of the many items that soldiers would have carried with them throughout the war and used to carry personal items to different camps.

Both the pitcher and Samuel Williams book hold a lot of importance in this collection because they show the portrayal of the American Revolution years after it had passed. These items showed active motivation to catalog and portray the revolution as an historically important event and one that was looked on positively by the new American society. This portrayal of the Revolutionary War would be carried on Frank Mayer's painting of Continental soldiers almost a hundred years later. This is also clear in Washington's portrayal and glorification as an American hero which is displayed by the treatment of even his coffin when a piece of it is gifted to a New York congressmen years after his death.

Powder Horn

National Museum of American History

George Washington's Battle Sword and Scabbard

National Museum of American History

Braddock Pistol

National Museum of American History

George Washington's Uniform

National Museum of American History

George Washington's Camp Chest

National Museum of American History

Pitcher, "Washington/Independence"

National Museum of American History

A History of the American Revolution

National Museum of American History

Piece of George Washington’s mahogany coffin

National Museum of American History

The Continentals

Smithsonian American Art Museum