Log Huts

Valley Forge National Historical Park, PA

Valley Forge National Historic Park preserves the site of the Continental Army's infamous winter camp of 1777-78. After another disastrous year of campaigning which had culminated in the loss of Philadelphia to the British, General Washington had led his army of 12,000 men to the northwest of the city. From this highly defensible position along the Schuylkill River, Washington was in a strategic position to harass the British without serious threat of being attacked. Despite beliefs to the contrary, the winter at Valley Forge was not unusually harsh from a weather standpoint, rather the hardships experienced here were the result of a breakdown in supply and an almost criminal disregard of the needs of the army by the Continental Congress. Living primarily in tents to start the winter, the army immediately set about constructing the nearly 2,000 log huts which would provide a better measure of protection from the elements. Conditions were more often wet than wintery and the constant dampness was the primary cause of disease that was the scourge of the army through the encampment. Somewhere around 2,500 soldiers died during the six months at Valley Forge. Much good came of the stay here, however. With the arrival of Prussian Baron von Steuben, Washington's Army gained badly needed experience in the conduct of European war. Von Steuben immediately set about training small groups of soldiers which, in turn, would train others. Through this method the Continental Army which marched out of Valley Forge in the spring of 1778 was a much better disciplined and organized force than what had marched into camp six months before. No longer would the British Army find them quite so easy to push around. Through amazing determination and courage, the experience of Valley Forge transformed a demoralized army on the verge of collapse into a fighting force that would remain a threat to the British for the remaining three years of the conflict, when they ultimately claimed victory.

The National Park itself is huge by Revolutionary War standards, encompassing some 3,500 acres. We had a paltry two hours to rush through it so the album that follows is understandably brief, hitting highlights along the auto tour loop that winds through the park. I could easily have spent a day or more here which I recommend you do if you're planning a visit. Enjoy...

  • kw

    on June 19, 2013

    awesome! what a history our nation has!