Last updated: 3/20/2011
Vails Gate, New York
Street Address
374 Temple Hill Road
Vails Gate, NY 12584
Mailing Address
Box 207
Vails Gate, NY 12584
phone: 845-561-1765
fax: 845-561-6577
Mid-April through October
Closed holidays except Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day and Presidents Day.
Wednesday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Sunday1 PM - 5 PM
Visitor Center Exhibits are open year around
Monday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Sunday1 PM - 5 PM
free to general public, modest fees for guided group tours
Michael Clark, Historic Site Manager
phone: 845-561-1765 x19
Michael Mcgurty, Interpretive Programs Assistant
phone: 845-561-1765 x22
Chad Johnson, Historic Site Assistant
phone: 845-561-1765 x20

New Windsor Cantonment breathes life into the onetime Continental Army post housing 7,500 soldiers and 500 women and children civilian war refugees. A small but talented staff authentically dressed and equipped as soldiers or soldiers' wives demonstrate the work and pastimes of life in a military community from weapons drill, woodworking, blacksmithing, medicine, cooking and laundry to celebrations and funerals, sports and games, and aspects of ordinary life in extraordinary times 60 miles above British-controlled New York City at the close of the Revolutionary War. Two new galleries introduce guests to the forgotten people behind the famous figures, and to a lost historic site nearby where the seeds of victory at the Siege of Yorktown were planted through intensive training. One original log hut and several recreated buildings provide a backdrop for living history presentations and programs, with plans for additional outdoor work areas and structures to widen the scope of the human story and to interpret the economic and political crisis that reached a head here in 1783. In 2006 the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor was established here to collect and share the stories of men and women wounded in combat in American military service. The Purple Heart was preceded by the Badge of Military Merit established by George Washington in 1782 and in 1932 over 100 World War I veterans received some of the first Purple Hearts 150 years later here in 1932.


After the army disbanded and the nearly 600 buildings were auctioned off in 1783 by General Washington's orders, the newly deforested grounds served as farmland and a dairy through much of the 20th century. A small section of land surrounding a centennial monument was opened by New York state in 1918. Following a 1932 celebration, the National Temple Hill association was founded in 1933 to acquire more land and develop the historic site, a movement which finally gained momentum in the 1950s and 60s only to face financial difficulties. New York State purchased the 120 acres, buildings and collections and today works with the volunteers of the National Temple Hill Association to interpret this and nearly 300 acres of land owned by the Town of New Windsor as a living museum of the final winter post of Washington's northern Continental Army.

Artifact Collections

Archaeological artifacts from the site, military and skilled trade equipment of the period, manuscripts, artworks.

Research Collections

Small general library,small collection of mostly-postwar Clinton family manuscripts, materials relating to development of the historic site, oral histories of Purple Heart veterans.

Educational Programs

Two long term exhibits: 'Behind Every Great Man: Wasington's Army in Winter, 1782-83' and 'The Last Argument of Kings: Revolutonary War Artillery'; 'Through The Ranks,' an interactive tour through New Windsor Cantonment and nearby Knox's Headquarters State Historic Site contrasting the lives and activities of generals, soldiers, gentry, and both free and enslaved civilians; a dozen special events a year in cooperation with Knox's Headquarters including annual first-person living history presentations, military encampments, winter programs, children's day, concerts and performances, and lecture programs; live demonstrations of period trades And skills, and anniversary commemorative programs; and offsite outreach presentations. There is a modest fee for educational programs for groups and for outreach programs.


Access: Scholars

Appointment required: Yes


Wheelchair Accessible



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