Today in Military History: Dec. 19, 1777, Washington settles at Valley Forge

Washington at Valley Forge /E. Percy Moran. Courtesy, Library of Congress

On December 19, 1777, General George Washington, Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, settles his troops at Valley Forge, Pa., for the winter. The soldiers of the Continental Army had suffered hardships along the way including lack of food, weapons and clothing. Washington and his troops were also under physical and mental exhaustion from a tough campaign against the British that fall.

The winter was so harsh that out of the 12,000 plus men, 4,000 were deemed unfit for duty because of malnutrition and other sicknesses. The soldiers were surviving on a flour and water mixture and clothed in tattered, battle-worn uniforms. Log cabin shelters were built by order of Gen. Washington but did little to keep out the cold.

Six months later, the Continental Army left Valley Forge when Washington heard word of the British Army departing Philadelphia, heading towards New York. Washington and his troops met the British at the Battle of Monmouth in New Jersey. The Continental Army’s revived spirit and new skills were attributed to the struggle at Valley Forge.