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‘Blast From the Past: Artillery in the War of Independence’ Special Exhibition Opens June 10
Submitted by Tracy Perkins

BPast imageAs the last great victory of the American Revolution, the 1781 Siege of Yorktown is known for the use of artillery by General George Washington's Continental Army. Through interactive experiences and artifact displays, the "Blast from the Past: Artillery in the War of Independence" special exhibition will feature artillery used on all fronts of the American Revolution by the American, French and British forces.

From June 10, 2018, through January 5, 2019, the special exhibition will explore a range of topics from innovations in artillery design and technology to the individual roles of an artillery crew. Topics will examine artillery deployment and transport, as well as the range of fire and science behind these powerful weapons.

"Blast from the Past: Artillery in the War of Independence" will highlight the chronology of these weapons and reveal the technology and innovation that delivered the last great victory of the Revolution – a victory that forever made Yorktown, Virginia, the place where the subjects of a king became the citizens of a nation.

American, French and British artillery pieces featured in the six-month special exhibition include:
  • British Light 3-pounder bronze field cannon, cast by Jan and Pieter Verbruggen, circa 1776, on loan from the U.S. Army Center of Military History
  • "La Perileuse" French 4-pounder bronze field cannon, cast by Jean Bérenger Strasbourg, circa 1758, on loan from the National Park Service Springfield Armory National Historic Site
  • British 12-pounder bronze "Lafayette" cannon, cast by William Bowen, circa 1773, on loan from the National Park Service, Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown Collection
  • American 6-pounder iron cannon, cast by Samuel and Daniel Hughes, circa 1775-1783, on loan from the Mayor and Council of Boonsboro, Maryland
  • "La Bellone" French 4-pounder bronze battalion cannon, cast by D.E. Dupont Rochefort, circa 1773, on loan from the National Park Service, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historical Site.
Visitors take in the size and scope of American, French and British artillery featured in the special exhibition and then explore the museum for a range of hands-on experiences.
  • Explore foundries to field pieces in "Blast From the Past”
  • Discover types of artillery – cannons, mortars and howitzers – and types of ammunition – from shot and shell to canister and grape.
  • Figure out the right artillery tool for the job – types of shot and essential implements of rammer, sponge and linstock – in a hands-on display.
  • How does one move a gun? Lift a door to determine the strength by men and horses to advance a light or heavy gun.
  • Examine an artilleryman's pocket guide. See interactive 18th-century artillery field manuals that served as reference to determine tasks such as how to draw a 6-pounder up a steep cliff or bluff.
Immersive artillery experiences at the museum
  • Enlist as a member of a Continental Army artillery crew each day in artillery amphitheater. After the drill, cover your ears and make ready for soldiers to fire the gun!
  • In the laboratory tent at the Continental Army encampment, help manufacture cartridges and learn the science and math used to load, aim and fire an artillery piece.
  • Just beyond the large 24-pounder French siege gun in the gallery, see the "Siege of Yorktown" experiential film to experience the decisive 1781 Revolutionary War battle with wind, smoke and the thunder of cannon fire.
"Blast From the Past Programs”
A series of programs, demonstrations and musical performances highlighting the role artillery played during the Siege of Yorktown and the American Revolution will accompany the special exhibition from June through December. The special exhibition opens June 9 and 10 with "Artillery Through the Ages," which will examine the evolution of artillery and its important role during military engagements. On October 20 and 21, in conjunction with the annual Yorktown Victory Celebration event, visitors can enjoy "A Weekend of Revolutionary Noise" with re-enactor encampments. On October 21, the weekend event will conclude with an evening performance of "Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture," as well as other compositions, by the College of William and Mary Symphony Orchestra.


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