Thought for the Day: Valley Forge

Suffering at Valley ForgeJunior Ranger Day patch

In the past, when I’ve traipsed the fields of Valley Forge, even in the summertime I felt cold and hungry and sick. For Valley Forge was a place of great suffering. George Washington’s bedraggled Army wasn’t fit to fight. But they did fight.

Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben

Baron Steuben by Peale, 1780.jpgFriedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, onetime member of the elite General Staff of Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, turned the tide for Washington’s Army. He spoke no English, wrote field manuals in French which Washington’s staff hastily translated into English, and unlike other generals, he mingled with the troops, giving them firsthand training.

Crossing the Delaware River

ImageOn December 19, 1777, when Washington’s army marched into camp at Valley Forge, tired, cold, and ill-equipped, it was lacking in much of the training essential for consistent success on the battlefield. Because of Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, on June 19, 1778, after a six-month encampment, this same army emerged to cross the Delaware River, pursue and successfully engage Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Clinton’s British army at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey.

Now that it is very cold, if you live not too far from the Valley Forge National Historical Park, go over there and hike around. See what you feel.

Be So Ever Grateful!

John

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