Day 6, Dec. 18, 1777 — George Washington’s Army celebrates the new nation’s first Thanksgiving at Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills and prepares to set up camp at Valley Forge

Sheilah Vance

On December 18, 1777, General George Washington’s army celebrated the first national Thanksgiving in Gulph Mills and on Rebel Hill.  The celebration caused a one day delay in the army’s march to Valley Forge, which General Washington had decided a day earlier, was to be where the army would make its winter quarters.

The purpose of the Thanksgiving, according to the November 1, 1777 proclamation of the Continental Congress, was for “Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise” and  “to inspire our Commanders both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE…”

Reverend Israel Evans, chaplin to General Poor’s New Hampshire brigade, preached at least one of the Thanksgiving sermons.  The text of his sermon was printed by Lancaster, Pa. printer…

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