The City of Trenton is a special place with history hiding around every corner. Thanks to years of thoughtful preservation efforts, residents and visitors of Trenton are able to explore the city’s iconic spots of yesteryear, retracing the steps of some of our nation’s most historic moments. While exploring historic Trenton may feel like stepping into a time portal in and of itself, what if you could fully immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of a bygone era? Now, thanks to the minds at the William Trent House, you can.
On Tuesday, August 26th, the William Trent House invites you to take a step back in time at their upcoming event, “Army Meets Town, Trenton 1781”. The festivities will kick off at 10 am at the William Trent House campus, located at 15 Market Street, Trenton, NJ 08611. This family-friendly event is completely free to attend, and no advanced registration will be required. Plenty of free parking will be available to guests, conveniently located at the lot off of William Trent Place. There will be programming for history buffs as well as little learners, so be certain to bring the entire family for an afternoon of excitement.
In the late summer of 1781, General Washington’s Continental troops and General Rochambeau’s French troops came together in the Capital City as they prepared to cross the Delaware River. Trenton was met with an influx of thousands of soldiers, bringing their horses, oxen, and wagons along for the ride. This was a long-standing encampment in Trenton and was no doubt a massive shift for locals, who were accustomed to only 500 people living in this once-small town.
If in the present era, thousands of soldiers settled into town, it would no doubt be a jarring shift from the usual pace of day-to-day life. The “Army Meets Down” event challenges guests to imagine what it might have been like all those years ago in 1781, and ponder how townspeople may have interacted with their newfound guests. Guests will have an opportunity to step back in time and can participate in a number of fun activities, including:
- Meet soldiers of Le Regiment Bourbonnais, a French infantry unit, and the African American infantry of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment
- Watch the Continental regiment, Lamb’s Artillery, set up their cannon
- Visit the town’s doctor and find out how he would treat various ailments
- Meet the schoolmaster and make a hornbook for practicing reading
- Watch the blacksmith at work and shop at the peddler’s stall in the market
For younger guests, the event will also feature crafts and activities for school-aged children, as well as a “scavenger hunt” with fun prizes for little explorers to earn.
For the grownups in the crowd, not to worry – there’s plenty for you to learn about as well! Dr. Robert Selig, historian of the Washington-Rochambeau campaign, will give talks in the Visitor Center at 11 am and 3 pm on August 26th on how this major military operation was planned and executed. Dr. Selig is a historical consultant who received his Ph.D. in history from the Universität Würzburg in Germany in 1988. He is a specialist on the role of French forces under the Comte de Rochambeau during the American Revolutionary War and serves as project historian to the National Park Service for the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail Project.
No doubt an unforgettable afternoon for all, Army Meets Town promises to bring the Trenton of the past back to life. If you have any questions or would like to learn more prior to getting started, please contact the William Trent House at (609) 989-3027 for further details. This journey to the past is certain to be a blast, so be sure to mark your calendars today!