PrologueWhat we are doing, and why we're doing it!
Valley Forge. This log entry might very well be the only one without photographs. It's not that we didn't take any pictures, though. The reason for the lack of pictures is that the laptop computer that they were on was stolen from a rental car. In fact, we lost 2 laptops and Barb's purse. While it was a lot of work canceling credit cards, changing bank accounts and getting new computers, we did end up putting everything back together again with the exception of some pictures that hadn't been posted to the Web or backed up. There are some things that simply can't be replaced.
While we were camped in the Philadelphia area, we made a day trip to Valley Forge.We went through the visitor center, which displayed a very complete chronology of the revolutionary war and specifically the winter camp of 1777-78 at Valley Forge.
This particular winter was not the horrendous season so often depicted in textbooks. Rather, it was a typically cold Pennsylvania winter. Certainly, hardship did occur at Valley Forge, but the encampment experience could be characterized as "suffering as usual". The men, unit by unit, built a city of more than 2,000 log huts with filler of mud and hay. Disease, not cold or starvation was the true scourge of the camp.2,000 troops from a total of 12,000 died from influenza, typhus, typhoid and dysentery.
The informative displays introduced the elements of how that period was so difficult because (1) there was no single form of currency within the states so the soldiers were often unable to buy personal supplies even if they did have money issued from their own colony as the local farmers and suppliers didn't accept 'foreign' currency; and (2) each state supplied, and paid, their own soldiers differing amounts and with differing consistency. Some units were well clothed while others wore whatever they could scrounge up and used whatever gear they could forage.
Washington pleaded the Continental Congress for the creation of the office of a Quartermaster General. Congress promptly took action and appointed a Quartermaster General in the spring of 1778.
Perhaps the most important outcome of the encampment was the army's maturation into a more professional force. Former Prussian army officer, Friedrich Wilhelm Baron von Steuben, arrived in camp in February 1778 and created a hands-on training program. Ultimately, Valley Forge was not the darkest hour of the Revolutionary War; it is a place where an already accomplished group of professionals stood their ground and honed their craft.
The self-guided driving/walking tour was well worthwhile. Our timing missed the seasonal bus tours that originate at the Welcome Center.
Ian took the time to use the national park computer to search for Hattons that served in the civil war and found four Hattons, their state of origin and battle unit designation. Of these four, one died in battle, two were injured and/or diseased and were hospitalized and the fourth was a deserter. How interesting to think of the possibility of tracing their histories to our family. All in all, the site was a worthwhile day long trip into the past.