Online Encyclopedia

VALLEY FORGE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V27, Page 864 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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VALLEY FORGE, a small village in Chester county, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., on the S. bank of the Schuylkill river, about 20 M. N.W. of Philadelphia. It is served by the Philadelphia & Reading railway. The village lies in part of the tract occupied in the winter of 1777–1778 by the American army (under General Washington), whose sufferings from cold, starvation and sickness made the place historic. On the 19th of December (after the battles of Brandywine and Germantown and the occupation of Philadelphia by the British) the army, numbering about ro,000, went into camp here, the site having been selected by Washington partly because the hilly ground was favourable for defence, and partly because the army was thus placed between the British forces and York, Pennsylvania (about 65 m. W. of Valley Forge), where Congress was in session. The camp was almost unapproachable from the west by reason of the precipitous hillsides and Valley Creek, a small stream flowing northward at their base into the Schuylkill river which afforded a barrier on the north; on the east a series of intrenchments and rifle-pits were built. In this vicinity the army remained encamped until the middle of June. As a result of the mismanagement and general incapacity of the Commissary Department, the army received little food or clothing during the winter months; in the latter part of December nearly 2900 men were unfit for duty on account of sickness or the lack of clothing, and by the 1st of February this number had increased by nearly I000, a state of affairs which Washington said was due to " an eternal round of the most stupid mismanagement [by which] the public treasure is expended to no kind of purpose, while the men have been left to perish by inches with cold and nakedness." There were many desertions and occasional symptoms of mutiny, but for the most part the soldiers bore their suffering with heroic fortitude. On the 27th of February Baron Steuben (q.v.) reached the camp, where he drilled and reorganized the army. In 1893 the state of Pennsylvania created a commission of ten members, which (with $365,000 appropriated up to 1911) bought about 475 acres (in Chester and Montgomery counties) of the original camp ground, now known as the Valley Forge Park, preserved Washington's headquarters (built in about the year 1758) and other historic buildings, and reproduced several bake-ovens and huts of the kind used by the army. The state has also erected (1908) a fine equestrian statue by Henry K. Bush-Brown to General Anthony Wayne, and a number of granite markers which indicate the situation of the camps of the different brigades. The state of Maine erected in 1907 a granite memorial to the soldiers from Maine who camped here, and in 1910 Massachusetts appropriated $5000 for a memorial to her troops. Valley Forge took its name from an iron forge (also called " Mountjoy forge ") built on the east side of Valley Creek, near its mouth, in about 1250, and destroyed by the British in 1777.
End of Article: VALLEY FORGE
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