Posts Tagged ‘Valley Forge’


George Washington's Headguarters, Valley Forge


Almost every historical site we visit challenges something I thought I knew.  Mention Valley Forge, and I envision starving and freezing men in Washington’s army, dying in tattered rags during their winter encampment here.

Not so much.  Disease killed more men than cold or starvation.  And two-thirds of the men who died, did so during the warmer months of March, April and May.  That would be influenza, typhus, typhoid and dysentery.

I also thought of them as a pretty ragtag lot.  Nope, they’re a surprisingly skilled bunch of men.  Under brutal conditions, they built their own housing, foraged for food, constructed trenches, forts, patrolled and defended the camp and took care of each other. It’s reported that some of the sick and dying preferred to stay with their fellow soldiers rather than be moved to nearby hospitals.

It turns out one of the most significant things about the encampment at Valley Forge was that the army was whipped into shape by Baron Von Steuben, a former Prussian army officer.  Washington’s Continental Army didn’t just waste time here – they gained skill and confidence,  and became an army to contend with.

Thank you, boys.  We’re forever indebted.


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