Gulph Mills recognized as site of Nation’s First Thanksgiving in Biden Address

Shout out to President Biden for recognizing Gulph Mills as the site of the nation’s first Thanksgiving on 12/18/1777. I’ve written often about that historic day, especially in my books, Six Days in December, and Becoming Valley Forge. Biden refers to George Washington’s Proclamation as well as the commemorative marker at the site of the Gulph Mills SEPTA station. I wonder if he’s a fan of my books? I hope so. Anyway, glad that Gulph Mills is getting its historical due!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thanksgiving Address as Prepared for Delivery by President-elect Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware
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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.  And you can also read all about those six days in my 11/5/19 article, Valley Forge’s Threshold: The Gulph Mills Encampment  in the Journal of the American Revolution.

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…

As we begin an important Six Days in December

We’re coming up on those important six days in December, 12/13/77 – 12/19/77, when General George Washington and the Continental Army encamped in Gulph Mills and Rebel Hill, right before they marched down the road to Valley Forge for the winter. I wrote about all of those six days in this Journal of the American Revolution (all things article, Valley Forge’s Threshold: The Encampment at Gulph Mills, which you can access with this link:

I will post about those six days starting on December 13, but I thought I’d share this article with you to hopefully whet your appetite to check back here for more information on each of those six days.

Happy reading.

Sheilah Vance

My article published today, 11/5/19 — Valley Forge’s Threshold: The Encampment at Gulph Mills – Journal of the American Revolution

Remembering the nation’s First Thanksgiving, Dec. 18, 1777.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Read my article below about the nation’s true first Thanksgiving, 12/18/1778, which George Washington and his Continental Army celebrated on Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills. #reclaiminghistory

Valley Forge’s Threshold: The Encampment at Gulph Mills – Journal of the American Revolution
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My article published today, 11/5/19 — Valley Forge’s Threshold: The Encampment at Gulph Mills – Journal of the American Revolution

My article on the importance of the six days in December encampment at Gulph Mill and Rebel Hill as the threshold to Valley Forge was published today as the lead article in the Journal of the American Revolution, http://www.allthingsliberty. The article was a lot of work, but a work of love for Rebel Hill and Gulph Mills getting their important, historical due. You can read more about this period in my ebook, Six Days in December, and my novel, Becoming Valley Forge, both on Amazon, or ask for the novel at the Valley Forge Encampment Store or the Museum of the American Revolution. #becomingvalleyforge

Valley Forge’s Threshold: The Encampment at Gulph Mills – Journal of the American Revolution
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New Becoming Valley Forge Podcast

I just started a new podcast where I read the fiction chapters from my novel, Becoming Valley Forge, and then supplement each chapter with some real deal, non-fiction information about that period in our history, The Philadelphia Campaign of the Revolutionary War. I haven’t promoted it because I’m still learning how to speak in the most pleasing voice and not stumble over my words, but when this popped up today from an Apple search, I said, hey, what the heck, get it out there, your audience will understand that you are just doing you. Practice makes perfect, so keep checking back. Eventually, I’ll go through the entire book. Hope you enjoy it, and feel free to give me your feedback at Enjoy and learn! (You can also find it on other podcast platforms).

Resistance Is Patriotism on the Fourth of July – The Atlantic

Resistance Is Patriotism on the Fourth of July – The Atlantic
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Good article on the legacy of Independence Day, which I believe is resisting tyranny. The patriots resisted the foreign tyrant, King George. We must resist homegrown tyranny of all types, especially in our government. This Independence Day, I’m celebrating the real revolutionary values that led to the Declaration of Independence and to the Revolutionary War, where all types of people came together to fight for their freedom. I wrote about those people in my novel, Becoming Valley Forge.

Happy Independence Day!