THE CONSERVATION OF GEORGE WASHINGTON'S REVOLUTIONARY WAR CAMPAIGN MARQUEES
Fonda Ghiardi Thomsen, & Louise Cooley
The origin and history of ownership of the tents, which were known as marquees during the Revolutionary War Period, were researched.3 The reports concluded the objects in question were the inner sleeping chamber of the marquee used by General Washington as a private office and for sleeping, and the inner lining of the dining marquee for the Headquarters area. This was confirmed by the finding of an original order delivered to Plunket Fleeson, May 18, 1776, which called for “making a large Dining Marquee with Double Front,” and for “making another large Marquee with a Cham = (sic) out of ticken, Arch'd.” Possession of the marquees eventually fell to George Washington Park Custis of Arlington. They were pitched for the annual sheepshearing events at Arlington Springs, at Baltimore during Lafayette's visit of 1824, at Yorktown, and on numerous other occasions. During the Civil War, the Washington relics were confiscated and placed in the United States Patent Office. They were transferred to the United States National Museum in 1883. Mary Custis Lee appealed to President Johnson for the return of her personal goods. Finally, under President Taft, the Washington relics were returned to her. In August 1909, the Valley Forge Historic Society purchased the private office and sleeping marquee. In 1955, the National Park Service purchased the dining tent and equipment from the heirs of Mary Custis Lee. Currently, the Smithsonian Institution exhibits the dining marquee in their History and Technology Museum. The Colonial National Historic Park exhibits the inner sleeping chamber and dining tent roof lining discussed in this paper. The Valley Forge National Historic Park is preparing an exhibit of the private office and sleeping marquee. The marquee is on a ten-year loan from the Valley Forge Historical Society. The entire story of the marquees and what was received by the original purchasers is still not clearly established.