Lancaster City Revolutionary War sites: Equestrian Stables for Washington’s Army

During the final years of the French and Indian Wars, when Native American raids threatened much of the Susquehanna Valley, the provincial government selected Lancaster for the location of military barracks and associated buildings for the use of troops that might have to be sent to trouble spots along the frontier.

Military barracks and stables were built at North Duke and Walnut Streets by 1768, but the frontier wars had ended by this time. During the Revolution, the northern 90 feet of the building at 313 North Duke Street were the stables for equestrian use of Washington’s Army.

The relative position of government buildings in 1776.

With the outbreak of the Revolution, the State used these properties, and a government warehouse on Queen Street near James, along with a stone powder-house on Duke Street near James, for war purposes. Lancaster was far enough away from the scene of early conflict to be a safe location for storing guns, uniforms, and equipment for large quantities of gunpowder.

British and Hessian prisoners were quartered in the barracks across the street opposite the stables during the war. The local militia typically guarded both the powder house and the prisoners stationed in the town.

The powder house was constructed by authorization from John Hubley, a Lancaster lawyer who was a delegate to the Congress in 1776 and was appointed as Commissary for the army in 1777. Among Hubley’s assignments was the employment of all the shoemakers among the Hessian prisoners to make shoes for the troops.

Artist rendering of the government powder house on the corner of Duke and James Street.

The magazine for the storage of powder was to be twenty-four by thirty-six feet in size. On one occasion, Hubley was ordered to supply enough gunpowder to make up 20,000 musket charges. In the first years of the war, Hubley’s account books show frequent items for expenses in “entertaining riflemen” when rifle companies were being formed to go to Boston.

You can find the Revolutionary War equestrian stables at 313 N Duke Street. Here are the GPS coordinates: 40°02’35.6″N 76°18’16.5″W.

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