Marching out of Valley Forge, June 19, 1778

On this day in 1778, Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army marched out of Valley Forge after a winter encampment that saw them lose some 2000 men to death and disease, yet a stronger army due to the training that occurred during the encampment. I spoke about Valley Forge, the Philadelphia Campaign of the Revolutionary War, and my novel, Becoming Valley Forge on Saturday, June 15 at a reunion of Schwenksville High School alumni. They gave me this great name tag, which I will treasure. You can read more about what happened at Valley Forge by clicking here, a blog I wrote in 2017 on my site, www.becomingvalleyforge.com, that goes into much more detail, as well as in my novel, Becoming Valley Forge, on Amazon. God bless those Patriots! Peace—Sheilah

Advertisements

Remembering the nation’s veterans today, including the first ones…

Remembering the sacrifice of our veterans today, including the first ones as I did in my novel Becoming Valley Forge – Kindle edition by Sheilah Vance. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com. Thanks for your service & sacrifice.

Becoming Valley Forge – Kindle edition by Sheilah Vance. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Becoming Valley Forge.
— Read on www.amazon.com/gp/product/B019BLA48Q

Day 2 – 12/14/1777 — Hardship plagues the Continental Army at Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills

On December 14, 1777, the condition of the 11,000 members of the Continental Army at Gulph Mills and Rebel Hill was one of extreme hardship.  The soldier’s tents were not to arrive for two more days.  There was little, if any food.

Dr. Albigence Waldo, Surgeon General to the Continental Army and a member of a Connecticut Brigade wrote, “Prisoners and Deserters are continually coming in. 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 and Contentment not to be expected from so young Troops. I am sick and discontented–out of home–poor food–hard lodging–weather cold, fatigue–nasty clothes. What sweet felicities I have left at home — a charming wife — pretty children — good cooking all agreeable — all harmonious.  Nasty Cloaths – nasty Cookery – Vomit half my time – smoak’d out my senses – the Devil’s in’t – I can’t Endure it – Why are we sent here to starve and Freeze -Here all Confusion – smoke and Cold – hunger and filthyness – A pox on my bad luck. There comes a bowl of beef soup – full of burnt leaves and dirt, sickish enough to make a Hector spue – away with it Boys – I’ll live like the Chameleon upon Air. Poh! Poh! crys Patience within me – you talk like a fool. Your being sick Covers you mind with a Melancholic Gloom, which makes every thing about you appear gloomy.   See the poor Soldier, when in health – with what cheerfulness he meets his foes and encounters every hardship – if barefoot, he labours thro’ the Mud and Cold with a Song in his mouth extolling War and Washington – if his food be bad, he eats it notwithstanding with seeming content – blesses God for a good Stomach and Whistles it into digestion. But harkee!  Patience, a moment:  there comes a soldier — his worn out shoes, his legs nearly naked from the remains of an only pair of stockings.  His breeches not enough to cover his nakedness, his shirt hanging in strings, his hair dishelveled, his face meagre, his whole appearance pictures a person forsaken and discouraged.  He comes and cries with an air of wretchedness and despair: — ‘I am sick, my feet lame, my legs are sore, my body covered with a tormenting itch, my clothes are worn out, my constitution broken.  I fail fast and all the reward I shall get is — ‘Poor Will is dead!’  People who live at home in Luxury and Ease, quietly possessing their habitation, Enjoying their Wives and families in Peace; have but a very faint idea of the unpleasing sensations, and continual Anxiety the Man endures who is in Camp, and is the husband and parent of an agreeable family.  These same People are willing we should suffer every thing for their Benefit and advantage, and yet are the first to Condemn us for not doing more!!”

General Washington continues to issue orders to help get his troops settled.  And, he writes to the President of Congress about the army’s movement in to “the Gulph” and the army’s December 11 skirmishes with the British in Whitemarsh and the Gulph.

From General George Washington:

GENERAL ORDERS Head Quarters, at the Gulph, December 14, 1777.

Parole Raritan. Countersigns Schuylkill, Delaware.

The regiments of horse are to draw provisions of any issuing Commissary, lying most convenient to them, upon proper returns therefor.

Such of the baggage as is not absolutely necessary for the troops, and all the Commissarys and others stores, are to remain on this side of the gulph.

To THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS

Head Quarters near the Gulph, December 14, 1777.

On Thursday morning we marched from our Old Encampment and intended to pass the Schuylkill at Madisons Ford [Matson’s Ford],where a Bridge had been laid across the River. When the first Division and a part of the Second had passed, they found a body of the Enemy, consisting, from the best accounts we have been able to obtain, of Four Thousand Men, under Lord Cornwallis possessing themselves of the Heights on both sides of the Road leading from the River and the defile called the Gulph, which I presume, are well known to some part of your Honble. Body. This unexpected Event obliged such of our Troops, as had crossed to repass and prevented our getting over till the succeeding night. This Manoeuvre on the part of the Enemy, was not in consequence of any information they had of our movement, but was designed to secure the pass whilst they were foraging in the Neighbouring Country; they were met in their advance, by General Potter with part of the Pennsylvania Militia, who behaved with bravery and gave them every possible opposition, till they were obliged to retreat from their superior numbers. Had we been an Hour sooner, or had had the least information of the measure, I am persuaded we should have given his Lordship a fortunate stroke or obliged him to have returned, without effecting his purpose, or drawn out all Genl Howe’s force to have supported him. Our first intelligence was that it was all out. He collected a good deal of Forage and returned to the City, the Night we passed the River. No discrimination marked his proceedings. All property, whether Friends or Foes that came in their way was seized and carried off.

On to Day 3…

Read more about these momentous six days in my novel, Becoming Valley Forge, and my nonfiction ebook, Six Days in December: General George Washington’s and the Continental Army’s Encampment on Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills, December 13 – 19, 1777.  #RevolutionaryWarRealness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we go again…Six Days in December begins — Day 1, 12/13/1777–The Rebel Hill Encampment with George Washington and the Continental Army Begins

Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills, early 1900s.

Today is Day 1 of the Six Days in December: General George Washington’s and the Continental Army’s Encampment on Rebel Hill, December 13 – 19, 1777.  That’s the day that 10,000 members of the Continental Army descended on and encamped at Rebel Hill, in Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania, some eight miles away from Valley Forge.  The army stayed there until December 19, 1777, when they marched to Valley Forge.  Those six days have largely been overlooked, so in 2011, I set out to change that.  I grew up on Rebel Hill, and I felt that it was time that Rebel Hill’s amazing history was told and retold.

So, in 2012, I published an e-book titled, Six Days in December: General George Washington’s and the Continental Army’s Encampment on Rebel Hill, December 13 – 19, 1777.     It’s available on Amazon by clicking  here.    I also talk about those six days in my novel, Becoming Valley Forge, from the perspective of the people who lived on Rebel Hill and woke up one day to find 10,000 soldiers on their hill.  The novel, which covers The Philadelphia Campaign, from the Battle of Brandywine on Sept. 11, 1777 through the Valley Forge Encampment, answers the question–what happens when the war comes to your back yard? You can read more about it here.

I’ll be blogging about these six days up through December 19.  I will provide day-by-day coverage to the important activity that occurred during those six days, including the army’s celebration of the first Thanksgiving as a new nation and Gen. Washington’s decision to move to Valley Forge for the army’s winter quarters. These six days are the thrilling story about the threshold to Valley Forge and what happened when the war came to the backyard of the residents of Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills.

So, here we go…

Late in the evening of December 12, 1777, in a blinding snowstorm, General George Washington and 10-11,000 of his hungry, tired, and barely-clothed Continental Army, spent from a December 5 -7 encounter with the British during the Battle of Whitemarsh and a Dec. 11 skirmish known as the Battle of Matson’s Ford, started the march from Swedes Ford, in Norristown, to Gulph Mills. One soldier writes, “We are ordered to march over the river. It snows–I’m sick–eat nothing–no whiskey–no baggage–Lord-Lord-Lord–. Till sunrise crossing the river cold and uncomfortable.”

At 3 a.m. on December 13, 1777, Washington and his army marched into Gulph Mills, where Rebel Hill is located. “…at 3 a.m. encamped near the Gulph where we remained without tents or blankets in the midst of a severe snow storm.”

Several historians believe that Washington was going to make Gulph Mills the Continental Army’s winter headquarters because if he had decided on Valley Forge, it would have been easier to march his tired army straight to Valley Forge, rather than detour them several miles to Gulph Mills. Some of the letters from members of the army bear that out.  Soldier Timothy Pickering wrote, “the great difficulty is to fix a proper station for winter quarters. Nothing else prevents our going into them…it is a point not absolutely determined.”

Because of their elevation, Rebel Hill and the hills of Gulph Mills provided an advantageous view for miles around. The army could have easily seen the British advancing from Philadelphia to the east, where the British had established winter headquarters. Also, Rebel Hill gave the army great access to the Schuylkill River, particularly the crossing points of Matson’s Ford and Swede’s Ford. Finally, Rebel Hill was friendly territory–it is believed to have gotten its name because the people who lived there were definitely rebels and patriots supporting the Continental Army.

In any event, General Washington had to get his army, which had no tents to shield them from the elements, settled. He issued these orders:

GENERAL ORDERS December 13, 1777.

Head-Quarters, at the Gulph,

Parole Carlisle. Countersigns Potsgrove, White Marsh.

The officers are without delay to examine the arms and accoutrements of their men, and see that they are put in good order.

Provisions are to be drawn, and cooked for to morrow and next day. A gill of Whiskey is to be issued immediately to each officer, soldier, and waggoner.

The weather being likely to be fair, the tents are not to be pitched. But the axes in the waggons are to be sent for, without delay, that the men may make fires and hut themselves for the ensuing night in the most comfortable manner.

The army is to be ready to march precisely at four o’clock to morrow morning.

An officer from each regiment is to be sent forthwith to the encampment on the other side Schuylkill, to search that and the houses for all stragglers, and bring them up to their corps. All the waggons not yet over are also to be sent for and got over as soon as possible.

Mr. Archibald Read is appointed paymaster to the 8th. Pennsylvania regiment, and is to be respected as such.

On to Day 2…