Winter at Valley Forge

Some in Congress were plotting to replace Washington with Gates, well aware of his detractors Washington went on with the task at hand deliberating on the questions and the delivery of fate.

Despite the faith placed in Gates Washington behaved as the leader of freedoms cause regardless of circumstance and the temptation to quit his dedication and leadership would earn history’s applause.

By the end of that long and desperate time the army would emerge as a disciplined fighting force, ready to fight, to die of necessary in their prime. 

A deep determination to win took hold in those men, they would not quit, they would stand up to the British and those Jaegers, they would fight with the sword and the words of Paine’s pen. 

II. Valley Forge

Twenty miles northwest of Philadelphia is Valley Forge, named for an iron forge on Valley Creek in White Marsh Pennsylvania, the American Army sought refuge there far from the reach of King George. 

The forested plateau of Mt. Joy as the adjoining Mt. Misery made for easy defense, abundant forests and the Skuykill River to the north, close enough to keep an eye on the British to Washington the area made sense. 

Those battered Continentals arrived in December, cold, tired, hungry, barely an army at all, this would be a time they would always remember.

Washington ordered the men to build huts to his specifications, one but required eighty logs and two windows were to be cut into it ax h dwelling some of the twelve thousand men would live in them and some would be used as hospitals for patients 

From his quarters Washington set about advocating for his army stating that they would either disperse, dissolve or starve, the British needed only to wait for Spring to destry, he wrote to Congress with tact and deliberateness but repeated to himself that these reports alarm me! 

A Private from Connecticut, Joseph Plumb Martin, wrote Don his thoughts, in such a miserable condition he was still determined to see the fight to conclusion and all through the camp the huge were consteucted, little homes on once worked lots.

The surgeon Waldo recorded the conditions of his home at the camp, the smoke in his eyes, vommiting up what little food he had, wishing he was home, feeling less and less like a surprise from and more like a tramp. 

III. Letters to Congress

December 22, 1777

There are no animals left to slaughter, I am told to hold this army together as if I am some sort of cotter.

There are no more than 25 barrels of flour gettin more is beyond my power and no man has ever been more impeded than myself yet you expect me to keep telling each soldier to assert oneself.

Many soldiers have only one shirt, some are naked and sleeping on a cabin floor of dirt.

Many cannot perform duty for want of shoes but there is still more unfortunate news. 

Son this cause will be vacated and I implore you to listen because ultimately this cause for freedom will be devastated.

I assure you it my awareness of our difference in circumstance and of how much I as if it is to say “take a chance” when you are home and well fed and then there are those soldiers lying in the frost half dead.

I have made my predicament humbly plain and there is nothing I can do to relieve their pain. 

Letter to Wm. Buchanan

There is no ability of Congress that can alleviate the issue of provisions they simply must gather their courage and make some difficult decisions.

Desertions are daily increasing and the cries of hunger and sickness are far from acquiesing.

There is not the least prospect of help according to Mr. Blaine and that only adds to my pity for these poor soldiers pain. 

Info not write to blame rather representing the condition of this army is my only true aim. 

IV. The General’s Orders 

Each brigade is to dispatch an able bodied man each according to his plan to collect, flour, grain, cattle and pork, we must give these soldiers more than an empty fork.

Tell the me to take along blankets and rifles this growing number we must stifle.

Of the soldiers take a census and of their condition form a consensus.

The rolls will be called with regularity and anyone caught riding a horse or wagon in or out of camp will be punished with severity. 

From Poor’s Brigade Orderly Book: the commanding officer of each regiment is to appoint an officer to oversee construction of huts look to the surrounding forests to provide logs to be cut.

Overseers will be exempt from all other duty however only the sick and ill- c!othed will be completely off duty.

All are encouraged to do so quickly and with good skill to be rewarded with the sun of twelve dollars from the General’s till.

Due to a shortage of planks a one hundred dollar reward was offered throughout all the ranks to find the best covering to get everyone out of the bad weather and hovering.

the huts are to be 16×16 each year and ends and roots made of logs of beech, make the sides fight a with clay, one door, no windows, no splay, chimneys made of wood and he sure to gather firewood. 

Line the inside with clay eighteen inches thick the fire will make the lining sturdy like brick.

Cut the door near the street, make it out of oak planks 6 1/3 feet high and on the height let no one cheat. 

Washington stayed in his own tent until the huts were finished and then to Pott’s house he went and to Deborah Hewes he paid the rent. 

V. Disease 

From: ” Valley Forge Orderly Book” – ” Every Monday morning regimental surgeons are to make returns to the surgeon  General or in his absence one of the senior surgeons , present in camp, or otherwise under the immediate care of the regimental surgeons, specifying the men’s names, camps, regiments and disease. ”

Small pod ravaged the soldiers, sores, blisters and fevers causing spirits to smolder.

Eventually disease would take 2500 souls ending lives in a choking, blistered fashion, lonely and cold, dying around fires and their ever dwindling coals. 

The weather added to the issue, wet and damp, difficult to get dry and pneumonia inflamed delicate pulmonary tissue.

To protect against smallpox Washington ordered innoculation, surely the men would become I’ll but they would develop immunity.

In the New he this scheme would benefit the nation. 

Washington ordered hospitals to be built, fifteen feet wide, twenty five feet long and nine feet high.

Covered with boards, windows on each side, chimney at one end, the hope was life would be spared seeing how much blood had already been spilt.

There should be two for each brigade, each not more than 100 yards from their station, there the sick and wounded would remain. 

From the diary of Albigence Waldo:

 “December 25 – Christmas. We are still in tents, we ought to be in huts – the poor sick suffer much in tents in this cold weather.”

 VI. Baron von Freidrich Von Steuben

Stueben, the skilled Prussian drill master, tasked with instilling discipline into the men to turn them into fighters who could actually win, drill and drill again…..make them them fall battle ready lines faster and faster.

Tirelessly drill the soldiers, improving their discipline and morale, make men out of these walking boys, broken and dispirited, using his techniques this Army would be ready for a battle royale! 

He wrote drills form the army, a coordinated effort based on European ways he would work with troops directly and speaking profanity in several languages really increased his appeal and his increasing popularity would set the Army ablaze! 

Oh May 6, 1778 the Army showed off its new time promise to celebrate the French alliance, Stueben was handed his commission from Congress and everyone remarked at his accomplishments, surely now this Army could now count on its own reliance. 

Shortly after the Army left Valley Forge and fought the British at Monmouth Courthouse and fought the British to a standstill, those soldiers had a punch behind their new found stepping and fighting bounce! 

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