Completed with the intention for the painting to hang in the US Capitol, the “Battle of Monmouth” was stored at Arlington House until the outbreak of the Civil War when it was removed to Tudor Place in Georgetown for protection by the Lees’ cousin, Markie Williams. The painting was rolled up and stored there for over one hundred years until Armistead Peter III, of Tudor Place, returned it to Arlington House in 1974. The painting was conserved at that time but remains fragile. It features Washington on a white horse and to his right is the figure of Molly Pitcher who, according to legend, participated in the battle after her husband - John Hayes, a gunner officer - fell, wounded.
The battle, fought near the village of Monmouth, NJ (now Freehold) on June 28, 1778, is generally considered a draw. The British were leaving Philadelphia for New York City, when General George Washington’s troops attacked. General Charles Lee launched the assault but quickly retreated in spite of Washington’s orders and the British counterattacked. Baron von Steuben arrived, reordered Lee’s retreating troops, leading them back to battle. The British forces escaped during the night. Charles Lee was later suspended and court-martialed for disobeying orders.