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American Revolution: Valley Forge (1777/8)

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  • Brevet Brig. General Benjamin Tupper (Continental Army) (1738 - 1792)
    A Patriot of the American Revolution for MASSACHUSETTS with the rank of BRIGADIER GENERAL. DAR Ancestor #: A116972 Benjamin Tupper (1738–1792) was a soldier in the French and Indian War, and an off...
  • Joel Cook, Sr. (1746 - 1836)
    Soldier in the American Revolution. Enlisted for three years in April 1776. His father took his place for 2 months in the fall of 1777 and died of camp distemper (Bloody Flux). This fulfilled Joel Cook...
  • Capt. George W Grant (1740 - 1820)
    George first saw service in the Revolutionary War in 1776, probably during the Battle of Long Island, was a casualty in the fall of 1777, was at Valley Forge in 1778, and was in Sullivan's Campaign in ...
  • Brevet Brig. General Stephen Moylan (1737 - 1811)
    Stephen Moylan Irish American patriot leader during the American Revolutionary War. He received his education in Ireland, but resided for some time in England, and seems to have travelled considera...
  • James Lanier, Jr. (1750 - 1806)
    A Patriot of the American Revolution for NORTH CAROLINA with the rank of SECOND LIEUTENANT. DAR Ancestor # A069085 Served in the 8th Regiment, 3rd Division. and at Valley Forge. The Valley Forge Proj...

Valley Forge in Pennsylvania was the site of the military camp of the American Continental Army over the winter of 1777–1778 during the American Revolutionary War.

  • Date: December 19, 1777–June 18, 1778
  • Location: (current time) Valley Forge National Historical Park
  • Result: American Army survived difficult winter

From Wikipedia:

With winter almost setting in, and with the prospects for campaigning greatly diminishing, General George Washington sought quarters for his men. Washington and his troops had fought what was to be the last major engagement of 1777 at the Battle of White Marsh (or Edge Hill) in early December. He devised to pull his troops from their present encampment in the White Marsh area (now Fort Washington State Park) and move to a more secure location for the coming winter.

Though several locations were proposed, Washington selected Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia. Named for an iron forge on Valley Creek, the area was close enough to the British to keep their raiding and foraging parties out of the interior of Pennsylvania, yet far enough away to halt the threat of British surprise attacks. The densely forested plateau of Mount Joy and the adjoining two-mile long plateau of Mount Misery combined with the Schuylkill River to the north, made the area easily defensible, along with providing abundant forests of timber that would later be used to construct the thousands of log huts. 78 of the huts in the camp would house the soldiers, but over 2,500 of those soldiers died.

Undernourished and poorly clothed, living in crowded, damp quarters, the army was ravaged by sickness and disease. Typhoid, typhus, smallpox, dysentery, and pneumonia were among the numerous diseases that thrived in the camp during that winter. These diseases, along with malnutrition and exposure to the freezing temperatures and snow, contributed to the 2,500 soldiers that died by the end of the winter.

Gouverneur Morris of New York later stated that the Continentals were a "skeleton of an a naked, starving condition, out of health, out of spirits."

Soldiers deserted in "astonishing great numbers" as hardships at camp overcame their motivation and dedication to fight for the cause of liberty. General James Mitchell Varnum warned that the desperate lack of supplies would "force the army to mutiny."

Women who were relatives or wives of enlisted men alleviated some of the suffering by providing valuable services such as laundry and nursing that the army desperately needed. A group of people called Regimental Camp Followers also helped increase the morale of the soldiers and provided necessary support to the men again.

After the horrendous winter, the Continental Army found out that France was going to aid their cause by sending military and monetary donations to the army. France had signed an alliance pact, on February 6, 1778 with the 13 colonies, after General Horatio Gates had led his army and won the decisive Battles of Saratoga. A celebration of French alliance was organized on May 6, 1778, at Valley Forge.

The army repeatedly shouted, "Long live France! Long live the friendly powers! Long live the American States!" Thousands of soldiers performed large drill formations and fired salutes from muskets and cannons. The formations were observed by George Washington and other military leaders. At the conclusion of the celebration each soldier was to be rewarded one gill of rum.

notables include

  • George Washington
  • The Marquis de Lafayette