Background • Located in Valley Forge, PA • Around 25 miles outside of Philadelphia • Arrived on December 19, 1777 • Over 12,000 soldiers • No battles were fought there
Housing • No housing when the soldiers arrived • Building huts was the top priority • 2,000 huts were built • 14 ft by 16 ft • Made out of logs
Weather • Winter • Snow • Damp • Cold
Overall Conditions • The main source of food was fire cake, which was a combination of flour and water • Clothing was torn and scarce as a result of many battles with the British • Only 1/3 of the soldiers had shoes • This resulted in numerous soldiers having frostbite
Diseases • Typhoid, typhus, dysentery, and pneumonia were common • Frostbite was • Over 4,000 men were listed as unable to fight because of illness • Over 2,000 men died from illnesses
Aid • Continental Congress sent no aid • Soldiers wives, sisters, and mothers came to help with what they could • Formed the Regimental Camp Followers
Why Valley Forge? • In late August 1777 Sir William Howe, commander in chief of British forces in North America, landed his army at the upper end of Chesapeake Bay. • Objective: take Philadelphia, the patriot capital. • General Washington positioned his Continental Army to defend the city. After a British victory at Brandywine, the Continental Congress went to York, PA., • With winter setting in, General Washington looked for a place to rest and train his men. He selected Valley Forge, located 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia • It was located close enough to the British to keep their raiding, yet far enough away to halt the threat of British surprise attacks. • The high ground of Mount Joy and Mount Misery, combined with the Schuylkill River to the north, made the area easily defensible.
Setting up Camp • General Washington's poorly fed, ill-equipped army, weary from long marches, struggled into Valley Forge and prepared for winter's fury. • First orders were to select grounds for brigade encampments. • Within days of the army's arrival, the snow was six inches deep. • General Washington directed his men to build log cabins to protect them from the winter weather.
Training the Forces • The job of training fell to Baron Friedrich von Steuben. By March he had tirelessly drilled and scolded the regiments into a more effective fighting force. • Intensive daily training and von Steuben's forceful manner renewed the men's confidence in themselves. • Over the winter, the army changed dramatically. • The soldiers' endurance, bravery, and sacrifices were rewarded. Increasing amounts of supplies and equipment came into camp. New troops arrived. Spring brought word of the French alliance with promises of military support.
Significance • Valley Forge was a testament to the will and desire of the Revolutionary soldiers • The story of the soldiers at Valley Forge has become legendary in United States history
Quotes • "To see the men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie upon, without shoes...without a house or hut to cover them until those could be built, and submitting without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience which, in my opinion, can scarcely be paralleled." George Washington
Quotes • “Unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place... this Army must inevitably... starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can” George Washington