20 May 2010

Vacation: Valley Forge

A dreary, rainy, cold day greeted us for our drive into Pennsylvania. When we arrived at Valley Forge it had gotten even colder and was raining even harder.

Valley Forge has been transformed into a lovely park since it became an historic site.

The first thing Mom and I learned was that Valley Forge was not the worst winter the army spent during the war – that was in Morristown – but it is the most well-known.

The second thing we learned was the the “winter” in Valley Forge was actually from December of 1777 to June of 1778. We both always thought it was November to March.

The final thing we learned was that almost 2,000 wooden huts were built by the soldiers for use by the army during that winter. When George Washington was there during the American Revolution, the site would have been much more barren and less green. The trees in the area in 1777-78 would have been cut down for firewood and the huts.

The weather turned truly sour on us at Washington’s Headquarters. He leased the home from Isaac Potts and used it as the “Pentagon of its time.”

Most of the furniture is replicas, but the bannister is original. Imagine how much history that wood has seen? George Washington’s hand used that bannister … and Martha … and Alexander Hamilton.

And then I used it on my own way upstairs. Wow.

We left his headquarters and walked over to the “lifeguard huts.”

These were the cabins of the men whose job it was to protect George Washington – his life guard. The tradition of this unit continues as the soldiers who serve at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

By the time we returned to the car, Mom and I were soaked clean through and completely frozen. Imagining the soldiers in little wooden huts with one fireplace during the long winter of 1777-78 gave me a renewed appreciation for the men and women who fought in the American Revolution.

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