Visiting the winter encampment of the Continental Army where 2000 of its entourage died from disease and starvation but was a vital time in the preparing to meet the British forces
|1400 North Outer Line Drive King of Prussia, PA 19406||The park is open from 7:00 am to Dark (30 minutes after sunset) all year. Park buildings are closed, but park grounds remain open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.||Entrance to Valley Forge is free.|
The state of Pennsylvania is the cradle of historical events that shaped the United States of America. Philadelphia was established as the nation’s first capital, but before that the country had to fight for its independence from Great Britain.
On our road trip through Pennsylvania we discovered a National Park that we were totally unfamiliar with. Valley Forge, located 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia, had a very important role in the War of Independence, but unlike many monuments this was not the site of a battle. Valley Forge is the location of the 1777-1778 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. Here the Continental Army, a collection of disparate colonial militias, emerged under Washington’s leadership as a cohesive and disciplined fighting force.. On December 19th, 1777, 12,000 soldiers and 400 women and children marched into Valley Forge and began to build what would become the fourth largest city in the United States, with 1,500 log huts and two miles of fortifications. Concentrating the soldiers in one vast camp allowed the army to protect the countryside and be better able to resist a British attack, but it became costly when lack of supplies and hunger afflicted the inhabitants, and diseases like influenza and typhoid spread through the camp. While there was never a battle at Valley Forge, disease killed nearly 2,000 people during the encampment.
What’s left today is an interpretation area where there are several huts that represents how the troops lived over that winter of 1777. To get a better appreciation of the events that took place at Valley Forge we joined a Park Ranger tour. This took us around several of the cabins which were fitted out as they were believed to be at the time of the occupation of the Continental Army. Also, there were some docents dressed as militia men who explained how their muskets worked and demonstrated the use of the canon. This is always a big hit with the children!
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Valley Forge National Park. It gave us a wonderful insight into a period of history that we were not too familiar with, especially the significance of the winter of 1777 and the role it played in preparing the Continental Army for the challenges it faced in the war for independence.