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CREDIT: J. Fusco for Museum of the American Revolution

CREDIT: D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia

CREDIT: G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia

CREDIT: R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia

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The Historic American Revolution Trail of Philadelphia

Sites throughout the region recount America’s fight for independence

Long before the first musket shot was fired in Lexington in 1775, the seeds of the American Revolution were taking root in Philadelphia as colonists declared their independence and began preparing for war.

For visitors eager to delve into this tumultuous time in history, the Museum of the American Revolution — located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Historic District — delivers a full picture story of this world-changing war, creating the perfect starting point for their exploration.

More than 242 years later after the Revolution, dozens of key sites and landmarks throughout the region remain, giving visitors a glimpse into the fascinating stories of the time.

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Where to Begin
A Revolution Rising
Armed for War
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Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

The Continental Army and Navy needed armaments, and Hopewell Furnace was one of the foundries that supplied the troops with cannons, shots and shells, including 115 big guns for the Continental Navy. Built in 1771 by the ironmaster Mark Bird, Hopewell Furnace consists of a mansion (the big house), spring and smoke houses, blacksmith shop, office store, charcoal house and even the remains of a schoolhouse. The summer season brings with it living history demonstrations and other historic activities.
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Congregation Mikveh Israel

When the American troops were low on weapons, food, supplies and the money to purchase them, Hayim Salomon, a member of Congregation Mikveh Israel, stepped up and helped finance and underwrite the War. He was so generous with his personal resources that he died penniless. Hayim Salomon is buried at Congregation Mikveh Israel Cemetery.
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Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial

Philadelphia residence of the Revolutionary War’s Polish military engineer

The ragtag Continental army had Thaddeus Kosciuszko to thank for the brilliant military engineering that helped them pummel the Redcoats in several battles. Following the Revolution, Kosciuszko returned to Philadelphia and welcomed top leaders to his charming residence.
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Time for Battle
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Stenton

During its long, storied history, Stenton mansion saw both sides of the war. In August 1777 as he made his way to the Battle of Brandywine, General Washington sought refuge in this elegant manse. Then Britain’s General Howe occupied the estate for the month leading up to and through the Battle of Germantown. Tours offered in the afternoon, Tuesday through Saturday from April through December.
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Brandywine Battlefield Park

On September 11, 1777, some 30,000 American and British soldiers faced off in one of the biggest battles of the Revolution. Despite being led by a who’s who of the Continental Army — Washington, Wayne, Lafayette, Knox and others — the Americans suffered a major blow on Brandywine Battlefield.
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Historic Houses of Chadds Ford

Both the Barns-Brinton House and John Chads’ springhouse suffered damage during the Battle of Brandywine in 1777. Before the battle, Washington himself may have surveyed the Brandywine from a hill behind the Chads’ House.
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Historic Waynesborough

During the Continental Army’s winter encampment at Valley Forge, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, one of Washington’s most celebrated generals, would sometimes return to his family home, Historic Waynesborough, for a good night’s sleep. The Battle of Paoli took place steps away from the front door and yet the house survived unscathed.
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Paoli Battlefield

On September 21, 1777, under cover of night, British soldiers committed unspeakable atrocities during a sneak attack that became a bloody massacre at Paoli Battlefield. A marker honors the 53 American soldiers who were slashed and died by British bayonets. The grounds mark the ninth bloodiest battle of the war and feature the second-oldest Revolutionary War monument.
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Peter Wentz Farmstead

An authentic, working 18th-century Pennsylvania German farm

In early October 1777, General Washington and his staff chose the Peter Wentz Farmstead as a headquarters while they planned a strategy to engage the British forces in Philadelphia, resulting in their defeat at the Battle of Germantown. Washington’s contingent returned to the Wentz property for four days before settling in for the winter at Valley Forge.
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Grumblethorpe

The bloody business of war still haunts Grumblethorpe, home of the Wister family and occupied by British Brigadier General James Agnew before the Battle of Germantown. Shot by a sniper, Agnew bled to death and more than two centuries later, the bloodstains are still visible on the floor.
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Thompson Neely House

During Washington’s campaign in 1776-77, wounded and ailing soldiers recovered at the Thompson Neely House, which had been transformed into a temporary regimental army hospital. James Monroe, who would later become the fifth president, was among the many who convalesced there.
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Fort Mifflin

For six long, cold weeks in 1777, a cadre of only 400 soldiers huddled inside Fort Mifflin to fend off British ships trying to bring supplies to British-occupied Philadelphia. Despite lack of food, freezing temperatures and rampant illness, the rebels held the ships back, giving Washington time to flee to Valley Forge where they would spend the winter rebuilding the army. Open Wednesday through Sundays from March through mid-December.
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The Wages Of War
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Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground

Many who gave their lives in the quest for freedom were unknown when they were laid to rest. Although the names of 52 of the Revolutionary War soldiers buried at the Concord School House and Upper Burying Ground are known, the names of six heroes killed during the Battle of Germantown remain unknown.
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Where to Learn More
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More American Revolution Resources

  • The David Library of the American Revolution: Everyone from the casually interested to the dedicated scholar can utilize the David Library of the American Revolution. Devoted solely to the American Revolution, the David Library boasts 10,000 reels of microfilm, nearly 8,000 books and 2,000 pamphlets among its holdings. Primary source materials include diaries, maps, muster rolls, letters, recipes and other information from the era.
  • Historical Society of Pennsylvania: With almost 3,000 books, pamphlets and 191 archival collections dealing with the American Revolution, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania offers a vast array of primary source materials and research resources for inquiring minds.
  • Polish American Cultural Center: The Polish American Cultural Center offers a glimpse into the life and contributions of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, whose engineering genius helped win the Revolution.
  • Chester County Historical Society: The library and research facilities at the Chester County Historical Society hold a wealth of information about people and events that played a regional role in the Revolutionary War.
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