Valley Forge

In Brief:

Having taken two major defeats (at White Plains, New York and Brandywine, Philadelphia ) in the American War of Independence, General George Washington decided to regroup his Continental Army forces at a secure remote location at a place called Valley Forge, north of Philadelphia. The army suffering from poor morale and with questions about George Washington‘s ability to lead, arrived hungry and weary to the camp just before Christmas, 1777. They immediately set about building shelter that would protect them form the damp and cold Pennsylvanian winter. However, despite their efforts the harsh conditions combined with the men’s unhealthy state meant the winter a low point in the war.

Undernourished and poorly clothed, living in crowded, damp quarters, the army was ravaged by sickness and disease. Typhoid, jaundice, dysentery, and pneumonia were among the killers that felled as many as 2,000 men that winter.

Despite this, the aim of the camp was to make better trained and organised and this task was improved massively by the arrival from Europe of Baron Frederick Von Steuben. This skilled Prussian drill master  tirelessly drilled the soldiers. He reorganised the Continental Army into a disciplined, focused group – similar in style to the great European armies.

Von Steuben at Valley Forge

On June 19, 1778, six months after its arrival, the army marched away from Valley Forge in pursuit of the British, who were moving toward New York. The ordeal had ended. The war would last for another five years, but for Washington, his men, and the nation to which they sought to give birth, a decisive victory had been won — a victory not of weapons but of will.

George Washington at Valley Forge

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The Continental Army at Valley Forge (winter 1777-1778)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs4ZFkZdNXY&feature=fvsr[/youtube]

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History@Banagher College, Coláiste na Sionna