Rare Powder Horn Carved by African-American Revolutionary War Soldier Goes on Display

The decorative artistry and intricate carvings on this Revolutionary War powder horn aren’t the only things that make it special.

The horn was owned by African-American soldier Gershom Prince and could be the only surviving one of its kind.

The rare artifact helps shed light on the little-known stories of African-American soldiers in the war, both freed and enslaved.

“This is probably the only surviving powder horn of a black solider who was killed in action,” said Dr. Philip Mead, chief historian and director of curatorial affairs for the Museum of the American Revolution.

Prince, a free black man, served in both the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. He died fighting in the Wyoming Massacre of 1778 in Pennsylvania.

In both wars, Prince carried his spectacular powder horn.

“It is a moving testament to the contributions of African Americans to the freedom of this nation at its inception,” said Mead.

The horn is a cow’s horn and was used to store gunpowder. In addition to having Prince’s name carved into it, the horn also displays carvings of trees, forts, and other scenes of his everyday life.

“To have it down here in Philadelphia where I now live and to know that many thousands of people are going to have the opportunity to see it is just thrilling to me,” said Denise Dennis, a descendant of Prince’s family.

Dennis grew up in the Wyoming Valley hearing family stories about the powder horn and about Gershom Prince. She believes people who see the powder horn on display will find its artistry as inspiring as she does.

The horn will be on display at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia until the end of the year.

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