Encampments

The march was a huge logistical feat, organizing men, supplies, water, food, and shelter along a route more than 680 miles long. The allied Continental and French forces comprised a diverse group. French troops were well-dressed, and professionally trained. The Continental Army, however, included soldiers who ranged in age from boys who were barely teens to men who were grandfathers. Some had been trained while others had never fired a shot. A man’s social or political status often determined his military rank.

The average French soldier carried his musket and equipment weighing almost 60 pounds. A baggage train of ox-drawn wagons, and horses, accompanied the troops. For the French troops, those carried the coats, haversacks and tents of the soldiers, and the luggage of the officers: 300 pounds for a captain, 150 pounds for a lieutenant. In addition to supply wagons, one wagon was designated for stragglers, the others were assigned to hospitals and craftsmen such as butchers, and wheelwrights.

The troops avoided marching in the hottest parts of the day, so days started early. Reveille was around 2:00 a.m., and the last regiments would leave camp by 4:00 am. The next campsite, 12 to 15 miles away, was often reached between 8:00 a.m., and noon. If the roads or weather was bad, however, it could be evening before the next camp was reached. Officers often lodged in local taverns or private homes, while the enlisted men slept in tents and cooked their meals over a fire.

“Camp followers” were the wives and children of the allied armies. They sewed, cooked, and washed clothes for the men, often earning a bit of money. Camp followers also nursed the sick and wounded. Though the soldiers did benefit from their presence, the generals often regarded them as a burden since they also required food and shelter.

The locations below are known Continental and/or French encampment sites that are currently open to the public and/or public knowledge. Encampment sites on private land, or biologically sensitive or potential archaeological sites are not included on the list.

Click below to jump to a specific state.

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

Connecticut

New York

New Jersey

Pennsylvania

Delaware

Maryland

Virginia

District of Columbia