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Copy of Valley Forge 1777-1778
Transcript of Copy of Valley Forge 1777-1778
The first two years of the American Revolution had not gone well for the Continental Army. Since the summer of 1775 when he had first taken command, George Washington had withrawn his troops from Boston and retreated
Most recently, he had been unable to stop the British when General Howe marched his army into the national capital of Philadelphia. Washington was having trouble keeping his soldiers the army. Many of his men had only enlisted for nine months. These men were going home and not returning. Others simply deserted.
Washington's own position was uncertain. Some members of Congress did not trust him.
Philadelphians were divided over the war. Some welcomed the British. Women developed "scarlet fever" - crushes on the British soldiers and their bright red coats.
With Howe's British army in Philadelphia, Washington decided to build a winter camp at Valley Forge, about 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Men had to build log huts. Each hut slept twelve men. There were no beds, just straw on the mud floor. Cold was one problem, smoke was another.
Conditions at Valley Forge
Diary of Dr. Albigence Waldo,
December 14, 1777
"The Army which has been surprisingly healthy hitherto, now begins to grow sickly from the continued fatigues they have suffered this Campaign. Yet they still show a spirit of Alacrity (cheerful willingness) and Contentment not to be expected from so young Troops. I am Sick - discontented - and out of humor. Poor food - hard lodging - Cold Weather - fatigue - Nasty Cloaths - nasty Cookery - Vomit half my time - smoak'd out of my senses - the Devil's in't - I can't Endure It - Why are we sent here to Starve and Freeze ... There comes a soldier, his bare feet are seen thro' his worn out Shoes, his legs nearly naked from the tatter'd remains of an only pair of stockings."
Help Arrives From Europe!
Help came in the form of Prussian volunteer Baron von Steuben. The military leader was aghast at the lack of American discipline. At Washington's urging, he trained the Continental Army, Prussian-style. The troops slowly became more professional. The soldiers who remained became stronger and more confident.
He had a system that he would train so many people and then they would go and train other people. This worked because it just kept going until every one was very well trained. Steuben spoke no English so he had to have a translator tell the solders what he was saying so they could understand them. (2)
What happened if you tried to escape?
If you tried to escape Valley Forge there could be a very serious consequence. If you were caught than you may have been shot in front of other people to see what would happen if you were caught after escaping. Or you would get wiped. Not enough to disable the person but to teach them a lesson. (14)
Help from France arrives!
Around the same time that Washington's troops suffered in Valley Forge, General Gates won a decisive Patriot victory in Saratoga, New York. Patriot James Thatcher wrote, "This event will make one of the most brilliant pages of American history." This win persuaded France that we could win the war, and the king agreed to an alliance.
The soldiers were equipped with their muskets, powder horn, hunting bag, and bullet pouch. In their knapsack they had a blanket, spoon, fork, knife, and a canteen. A single canteen were shared between 6-8 men each. Christmas dinner was a bowl of rice and a spoonful of
French Supplies Include:
What challenges did the Continental Army face at Valley Forge? How were these challenges overcome?
How did Von Steuben train so many people?