Valley Forge, located in Pennsylvania, was a military camp site of American Continental Army during the 1777-1778 winter season. Just before the onset of winter season, George Washington, who was the General at that time, sought residence for his men. This was just after the troop had just finished fighting the last major battle of 1777 Revolutionary War at Edge Hill. Washington planned to shift his troops from the site which they were camping by then in the White Marsh to a more secure site for the approaching winter period. After several camping sites were proposed, he chose to pull the troops to Valley Forge, just 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia. The area was close to the British so as to keep their raiding out of the interior Pennsylvania. In addition to that, it was an ideal site to stop any threat of surprise attacks by the British.
The Skirmish at Valley Forge
Although Washington and his troop were close enough to the British, there was no battle which fought at Valley Forge. In fact, the Continental army was ready to quit and George Washington conceded. Contrary to that, the troops did not break up even after facing challenges like despair, hunger, and diseases at the camp. Some of the men died due to hunger and diseases. However, the weather got better somewhat by February, 1778. In the following months, General Nathanael Greene became appointed as head of the miserable Commissary Department. After this appointment, somehow they started to get food, and the supply continued slowly.
In April, a plot which was meant to remove General Washington from power was nullified for good. News of French Alliance reached the camp in May 1778, bringing financial and military aid from the French with it. In June, the troops were feeling ready to go to war. They streamed out of Valley Forge to fight the British toward New Jersey.
Drilling with Baron Friedrich von Steuben
Friedrich von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge camp on February 23, 1778. Steuben was a former member of Prussian General Staff, and had been recruited by Benjamin Franklin in Paris to the American cause. He taught and instructed 100 men in maneuver, drill and a simplified guide of arms. The men were then sent out to other units to reiterate the process over and over until the entire troop was fully trained. He also introduced a system of continuous training for recruits, teaching them basics of soldering. The training bore fruits, and on May 20, 1778, at Barren Hill the Continental Army fought on equal footing with the British army. In June 28, the two armies fought once again.
Departure from Valley Forge
Even though the stay at Valley Forge was trying for the troops and their commanders, the Continental Army got out as a stronger combating force. General Washington fortified himself as the military leader and spiritual leader, while his men, having received more training from von Steuben, emerged superior soldiers to the ones who arrived at Valley Forge on December 1777. With the announcement and arrival of the French on May 6 1778, the course of the war changed, prompting the British army to evacuate Philadelphia and go back to New York.