Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Knox's Headquarters State Historic Site

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289 Forge Hill Road
Vails Gate, NY 12584
Latitude 41.455513
Longitude -74.048882

On several occasions during the Revolutionary War, Major General Henry Knox, Commander of the America artillery, established his military headquarters at John Ellison's 1754 Georgian-style house in Vails Gate. From October 1782 until the spring of 1783, as 7,000 soldiers and 500 "camp followers" were establishing winter quarters at the New Windsor Cantonment, and General Washington was lodged at Jonathan Hasbrouck's house in Newburgh, New York, Major General Horatio Gates occupied the elegant home from which he commanded the cantonment. Here the army awaited the end of the Revolutionary War that became effective when Washington issued the cease fire orders on April 19, 1783.

For most of the 18th and into the 19th century, the Ellison family had important commercial dealings in milling and trade. From their mill, flour was shipped down the Hudson River to New York City and the West Indies. At present, remains of the mill, with traces of the underground raceway may be visited. Explore how the Ellisons and other families of the mid-Hudson Valley lived 200 years ago.

Knox's Headquarters is located at 289 Forge Hill Road at the intersection of Forge Hill Road and Blooming Grove Turnpike (Route 94) in Vails Gate, NY, just one mile from the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and New Windsor Cantonment.

The historic site is open Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day from Wednesday to Sunday. Wednesday to Saturday tours are held on the hour from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. On Sundays, tours are held on the hour from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. Tour, school and camp groups are welcome by advance reservation only. Dates, times, hours of operations and admission fees are subject to change.

Mailing Address
PO Box 207, Vails Gate, NY 12584

Hours of Operation

  • In season, tour times are available by calling (845) 562-7141 ext. 22.

  • House Tours:
    May 23 - Sept 2
    Wednesdays - Saturdays, 10am-5pm; Sundays, 1pm - 5pm

Fees & Rates

  • School & Group Tours
  • $5.00 per person

Celebrate Christmas at Knox's Headquarters

See this house decorated for the season in the 18th century manner. Overrun by too many besotted louts demanding food and drink, for the past few Christmases, the Ellisons demand notice of your arrival. Call (845) 562-7141 X22 to reserve your time. Uninvited revelers will be immediately thrown off the property. Local Covid-19 guidelines in effect.

For two Christmases, John and Catherine Ellison shared their home with the officers and soldiers of the Continental Army. Over the winter of 1780-81, General Henry Knox, his wife Lucy and their children Henry and Lucy were there, while two years later it was General Horatio Gates and his military family of aides de camp who shared in the season's festivities. In December 1774, Colonel Thomas Ellison of New Windsor, John's father, received a letter from a grandson in New York City wishing him greetings of the season: "May you and yours see the return of many happy Christmasses & New Years & may each bring you an occasion of joy and peace – especially of that peace which passeth understanding & which this world can neither give or take away."

Wednesdays: December 8th, 15th, 22nd:
Times: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm
Thursdays: December 9th, 16th:
Times: 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm
Fridays: December 10th, 17th:
Times: 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm 
Saturdays: December 11th, 18th
Times: 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm 

Through the Ranks: A Visit to Knox's Headquarters and New Windsor Cantonment, the Final Winter Encampment of Washington's Army 1782-83

We invite you to step back in time, to the 1782-83 encampment of General George Washington's Continental Army! Your visit begins at Knox's Headquarters, where army officers resided as guests of the prosperous Ellison family. Next, you will travel to the New Windsor Cantonment, where over 7,000 soldiers and 500 of their family members lived during the final winter of the Revolutionary War.

You will tour the elegant 1754 Ellison country mansion, furnished to reflect the prosperity of John and Catherine Ellison who lived in it during the Revolutionary War. Certain rooms in the house were used by Continental Artillery commander General Henry Knox and later by commandant of the New Windsor Cantonment General Horatio Gates. Students will also learn about commerce in the Hudson Valley through the milling operations of the Ellison family and their extensive trade with the Caribbean and Europe.

At the New Windsor Cantonment, the focus is on the daily life of the soldiers and civilians who were part of the Northern Continental Army at New Windsor in 1782 -83. Specific topics include shelter, food, clothing, health concerns, discipline and military training. Students will see demonstrations of blacksmithing, wood-hewing and the firing of a musket.

By visiting both sites, your students will experience the Continental Army "through the ranks" from powerful generals to humble privates. Your students will return to the classroom with a comprehensive view of military and civilian life in the Hudson Valley during the Revolution.

The sites are only two miles apart. The tour begins at Knox's Headquarters at 10:00 AM. Following the tour at approximately 11:15 AM, the students board their bus and move to the New Windsor Cantonment. Students eat their lunch in our picnic grounds or in our building in case of inclement weather. The tour of the New Windsor Cantonment runs from 11:45 AM to 1:30 PM. Times are flexible. The cost includes both sites.

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Amenities Information

  • Amenities
  • Costumed Interpreters
  • Demonstrations (Accessible)
  • Hiking
  • Picnic Area (Accessible)
  • Re-enactments (Accessible)
  • Tours
  • Documents