Clarke House Museum
Arms of the American Revolution
The first time visitor to Princeton Battlefield enters the Thomas Clarke House, expecting to only tour a farm house of the colonial period. Most of these people are amazed to step into the museum and find our 'Arms of the Revolution' exhibit, one of the largest display collections of period firearms in the area.
The 'Arms of the Revolution' began in 1992 with offer to loan a variety of shoulder arms, swords, and other equipment of the Revolutionary War period from three collectors living in the New York City area. With monetary support from the Princeton Battlefield [Area Preservation] Society, the Princeton Woman's Club and some from New Jersey State Parks, the exhibition rooms and cases were pulled together with help of volunteers. Prints and paintings related to the Battle of Princeton that had been gathered in the Park collection over several years were also added to the exhibit. The exhibition officially opened in July 1993 and has continued in popularity with the visiting public since then.
The exhibit encompasses a good cross section of the weapons and accoutrements of the soldiers and militia men who fought on both sides during the American Revolution. In addition to military shoulder arms and pistols one can also view long fowling guns for hunting, military swords, canteens, powder horns, cannons, cannonballs, an artillery caisson, a cartridge box and hunting pouch, artifacts from the battle, and images of the Battle of Princeton. Unique and rare items can also be seen such as a Henry Nock volley gun which is a seven barreled firearm made to fill a British Naval contract. Or two British muskets made by Clark, consecutively numbered when stored in NY, but who followed separate histories until they were rejoined side by side again in this exhibit.
While the exhibit has existed because of the continued generosity of our three collectors in loaning their collections, it will be the generosity of future donors who can make this a permanent exhibit for use in a future visitor center. The owners have indicated their willingness to sell items from their collections to Princeton Battlefield to become part of the site's permanent collection. As Revolutionary War weapons and artifacts rarely come on the market this is a special opportunity create an exceptional collection for the continued education of the public. Over the years smaller amounts of funding did become available and several pieces were acquired for the site's collection but additional individual and corporate funding will be needed to make Princeton Battlefield's permanent collection a truly unique representation of the arms and equipment on the people who fought during the war that created our nation.