Online Exhibits

Falmouth Harbor [and] Portland Sound
Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres, Copper Engraving, London, 1776
Town of Falmouth, Burnt by Captain Moet
Falmouth (present-day Portland) was considered the shire town of Cumberland county in the late 18th century. After the Stamp Act of 1765, revolutionaries burned a shipment of stamps. And when the Boston port was closed by the British in 1774, the people held a meeting, resulting in a unanimous decision to boycott tea. By 1775, The American Association had developed several chapters in Maine, attempting to interfere with English trade. However, there were many loyalists in Falmouth who profited from trading with the English. Captain Samuel Coulson, for example, sent a vessel to England for military supplies in 1775. Upon the vessel's return to Falmouth, however, the American Association held their own meeting, and decided to prevent it from docking. Meanwhile, the British ordered Captain Henry Mowat to attack Massachusetts ports. In a letter, the captain warned the townspeople to evacuate. The fire burned more than three quarters of the town, destroying more than four hundred buildings.
John Norman, Coverly and Hodge, Boston, 1782
Falmouth Neck, As It Was When Destroyed by Mowett, October 18, 1775
Anonymous, Lithography on Paper, Portland, 1831
A View of the Rivers Kenebec and Chaudiere, with Colonel Arnold's Route to Quebec
In September of 1775, Colonel Benedict Arnold led the 1,100 man Continental Army from Cambridge, Massachusetts on an expedition to Quebec City. Because much of Maine was left unsettled by the Europeans, Arnold’s expedition created some of the first maps of the wilderness. General Thomas Gage of the British Army was told while stationed in Boston that Arnold was leading his troops through Newburyport, but believed him to be on his way to Nova Scotia. A few days later, it was learned that Arnold was actually on his way to Quebec by way of the Kennebec River. But, although the British did not have as much warning as they wished, Arnold met many natural complications in Maine’s autumn environment. Temperatures dropped below freezing, and his men were slowed from sickness and dysentery. By the time they reached the Dead River on October 13, Arnold had been forced to send many of his men back to Fort Halifax for supplies, over 80 miles away. The remainder of the journey through Canada was continuously plagued by fatigue, illness, and a lack of supplies. By the time the army reached their destination, they had been significantly weakened and the highly anticipated Battle of Quebec ended in the first major American defeat of the war.
Robert Baldwin, Copper Engraving, London Magazine, 1776
Attack of the Rebels upon Fort Penobscot in the Province of New England in which their Fleet was totally destroyed and their Army dispersed the 14th August 1779. By an Officer present.
The Penobscot Expedition of 1779, was the largest American naval deployment of the war, with 19 warships, 25 support vessels and a 100-man artillery detachment led by Lt. Colonel Paul Revere. For three weeks, the mouths of the Penobscot and Bagaduce Rivers were ablaze with fire. The attempted seizure of Fort George may have been successful had it not been for the disagreements between Brigadier General Solomon Lovell, commander of the land forces, and Commodore Dudley Saltonstall, the commander of the expedition. The assault ended in humiliation for the Americans on August 13, and the survivors were forced to march back to Massachusetts less than a month after their arrival. Commodore Saltonstall was later dismissed from the Navy for his failure to effectively carry out the mission. General Lovell’s journals of the ill-fated English Penobscot Expedition outline the significance of Fort Penobscot’s location; “Captain Henry Mowat, of his Majesty's sloop Albany, having been many years on the American station, and well acquainted with the disposition of the inhabitants, and of the importance of the country of Penobscot to the Americans, for fire-wood, lumber, masts, cod and river fishing gave credit to the information, and ordered the three sloops of war into the best situation to defend the harbour, annoy the Enemy, and co-operate with the land forces.” This map is geographically inaccurate, but served as a visual aid for the curious general public. It is actually a mirror image of the area; the Penobscot River lies west of the Majabigwaduce Peninsula and Fort George.
Tindal J. Rapin, London, 1785