As we grapple with two and three feet of snow and freezing temperatures, imagine what it was like for the soldiers at Valley Forge when large amounts of snow fell on and around their wood huts, heated only by the fireplaces inside. While most of us had a great holiday season with wonderful Christmas, Hannakuh, Kwanzaa and other celebrations, surrounded by family and friends, imagine what the past month was like for the General George Washington and the Continental Army at Valley Forge. Since the Continental Army marched into Valley Forge on December 19, the following are among some of the things that have happened:
- The soldiers built huts in accordance with General Washington’s very specific orders.
- General Washington wrote Congress after only a few days at Valley forge that “if some great and capital change does not take place, the army will starve, dissolve or disperse.”
- The great author Thomas Paine, whose “Common Sense” convinced a great many people that independence from England was necessary, visited Valley Forge. He wrote Ben Franklin that all of the soldiers were busy building huts.
- The residents of the area who just had some 11,000 soldiers come to their back yards received an order from General Washington that they donate half of their grain to the Continental Army–this would be half of what was left after the British, who had been around the area for months, stole whatever they could get their hands on.
- A group of women from Philadelphia drove up ten teams of ox and delivered 2,000 shirts.
- General Washington declared some 4,000 men unfit for duty because they didn’t have clothes and supplies.
- General Lighthorse Harry Lee and his men successfully defended his outpost at Signal Hill (now A Child’s Place day care center on Sugartown Road in Devon, right on the grounds where I used to live) from a group of British marauders.
- A sutler, or a civilian merchant, was appointed to each regiment to sell liquor.
So, as we dig out from the Blizzard of 2016 and go back inside our comfortable heated homes to rest, imagine the sacrifice that was being made at Valley Forge 238 years ago.
You can read more about it in my novel, Becoming Valley Forge.
Stay safe and warm.