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“To Arm against an Enemy”: Weapons of the Revolution

“To Arm against an Enemy: Weapons of the Revolutionary War”

Now Open at The DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum

Colonial Williamsburg’s exciting new arms exhibition illustrates the weapons used by American, British, French, and Hessian troops during the French & Indian and Revolutionary Wars. During the first half of the 18th century, firearms in the colonies were a mix of the obsolete, the old and the odd. Most were privately owned and better suited for shooting game, while others were outdated relics captured in earlier military conflicts. With the outbreak of the French and Indian War in the 1750s, thousands of British and French soldiers came to North America, providing the first large-scale influx of up-to-date military weaponry into the colonies. A fresh wave of cutting-edge weapons accompanied the Revolution. This international jumble of muskets, swords and bayonets armed soldiers on both sides of the conflict.

Set in the Zadarlik-Sogoloff Gallery, the exhibition has been generously funded by the Pritzker Military Museum & Library.

Silver Hilted Smallsword (detail)
1765-1770 Origin: England, London; and America
Blade: 32 7/8" x 15/16"; Hilt: 6 7/8"; Overall: 40"
Silver, iron/steel, wood, enamel, and traces of gilding

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“Over the last ninety years, Colonial Williamsburg has assembled one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of Revolutionary-era weaponry. That gives us the rare opportunity to explore this subject in an unbiased fashion, from every partisan perspective: American, French, British and Hessian.”

~Ronald L. Hurst,
Carlisle H. Humelsine chief curator and vice president for collections, conservation and museums


Hours of Operation

DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum

  • Monday

    • 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Tuesday

    • 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Wednesday

    • 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Thursday

    • 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
  • Friday

    • 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
  • Saturday

    • 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
  • Sunday

    • 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM


Model 1763 Infantry Musket and Bayonet (detail and overall)
Maker: Royal Manufactory at Maubeuge, Origin: France, Maubeuge
OL: 61" musket; 18" bayonet, Iron, steel and walnut
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Pattern 1759 Elliot Light Dragoon pistol
Maker: Board of Ordnance, Origin: England, London and Birmingham
OL: 15" Barrel: 8 15/16" x .68 caliber, Walnut, iron, steel and brass
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Rappahannock Forge Infantry Musket
Made under direction of: James Hunter, Origin: America, Virginia, Falmouth
Overall length; 57 1/2", Walnut, iron, steel and brass
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British "Dog's Head" Infantry Hanger
ca.1750-1770, Origin: Great Britain, Birmingham (likely)
Hilt: 5 7/16" Blade: 26 7/16" x 1 1/8" Overall: 31 3/4", Steel, iron & brass
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Early Land Pattern "Shield" Bayonet
ca. 1720-1730, Origin: England, Birmingham (likely)
Socket: 4" Blade: 16 13/16" x 1 5/16" Overall: 21 11/16", Iron & steel
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Read the press release to learn more about this exhibition.