Sunday, Feb. 22, 1778 dawned dank and chill in southeast Pennsylvania. His instruction helped turn Washington’s citizen army into a professional fighting force. Letter From George Washington to Henry Laurens, December 23, 1777, National Archives. As Washington described in a December 23, 1777 letter to Henry Laurens, “...we have, by a field return this day made no less than 2,898 Men now in Camp unfit for duty because they are bare foot and otherwise naked…”. Philadelphia and New York were certainly the largest cities in Revolutionary America, with an estimated 40,000 and 25,000 residents respectively. That changed everything! The general and his staff corresponded with state governors and legislators, senior military officers stationed throughout the former colonies, congressional delegates, and even Ben Franklin and other American diplomats abroad. Valley Forge National Historical Park is nationally significant as the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. With a rump faction of Congress virtually unable to function while in exile in York, Pennsylvania, Washington and his staff would temporarily assume the awesome responsibility of keeping the wheels of governance turning until the elected civilians could resume their leadership roles. Only Washington’s superior political instincts, heretofore vastly underrated, allowed him to maintain his position as he deftly outmaneuvered the Gates cabal with a series of actions that rallied an influential faction of statesman and military officers to his side. Counterintuitively, this meteorological phenomenon only added to the Continental Army’s suffering. Two authors have dug into the story of Valley Forge. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Pulaski, like scores of other foreigners including the hulking Bavarian volunteer. Generations of Americans have been raised on tales of the hardship, suffering and sacrifice of that winter at Valley Forge. Having suffered a string of defeats that fall, including losing the capital of Philadelphia to the British, the Americans made camp for the winter outside of the city. Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window), Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window), Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window), Life and Death at Valley Forge — 10 Surprising Facts About the Revolutionary War’s Darkest Winter. These are the REAL Revolutionary War cannons! While many historians consider the Battle of Monmouth a tactical draw, the Continental Army fought for the first time as a cohesive unit, showing a new level of confidence, according to the American Battlefield Trust. Valley Forge: Overview of history and significance. Valley Forge, but it was the turning point of the Revolutionary War. “In the old days,” writes archivist and author John Buchanan, “the Continentals probably would have fled.” But, as Wayne Bodle writes in The Valley Forge Winter: Civilians and Soldiers in War, after their six months of training in the mud and snow of Valley Forge, Washington’s troops became imbued with “a deeper identification with and pride in their craft.”. Because Washington knew the ravages of the disease firsthand, he understood that the ...read more, From 1774 to 1789, the Continental Congress served as the government of the 13 American colonies and later the United States.