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The Birthplace of the Continental Army!

The Valley Forge National Historical Park preserves and enterprets the history of General Washington and his troops harsh winter encampment. This encampment was an important part of the Revolutionary War, though romanticized, it is a time that shows America's perserverence and the trainng that lead to the turning point of the war. Visit the park and experience the historical buildings, recreated encampment structures, memorials, museums and recreation facilities.

The Valley Forge National Historical Park includes 3,500 acres which include...

-historic structures

-reconstructed structures such as log cabins and monuments

-welcome center and museum including original artifacts

-programs, tours, activities available year round

-26 miles of hiking and biking trails

-wildlife watching, fishing and boating on the nearby Schulykill River


History of the Valley Forge Encampment

In 1777, the British planned to capture Philadelphia with 17,00 troops under the comand of Sir William Howe. To oppose the British, General Washington marched his 12,00 troops to New Jersey. This opposition did not prove sucessful- Washington's troops lost two battles in addition to Philadelphia. These loses and also winter's approach caused Washington to realize that his troops needed more training. Therefore, his troops with drew to camp and train at Valley Forge.

The troops encamped at Valley Forge by mid-December. Valley Forge was the perfect location for Washington and his troops because it was 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia, close enough to maintain pressure on the British, but far enough to prevent a surprise attack.

When arriving at Valley Forge, the men began to locate supplies, build log cabins, make clothing and gear and cook meals. The men built around 2,000 log cabins, trenches, 5 earthen forts as well as a bridge over the Schulykill River.

Life was not perfect however, many soldiers were threaten from disease, insuffiecient clothing and hunger. Disease proved to be the number one killer, killing 2/3 of nearly 2,000 men. Historians know that disease was the number one killer because most of those who died died in warmer months when food was more abundant. Influenza, typhoid, and dypentary were examples of diseases that affected the soldiers. Fortunately, surgeons, nurses, a smallpox inoculation program and camp sanitation regulations limited the number of potential deaths.

Although, the soldiers were weak from disease, the time of encampment allowed the troops to mature and train into a more proffesional force. Prussian army officer Von Steuben arrived in camp on February 1778 to train Washington's forces.

On June 28, Washington sent troops to the Battle of Monmouth where the troops demonstrated their much improved battle power.

"Valley Forge was not a dark hour of the Revolutionary War; it is a place where an already accomplished group of proffessionals stood their ground, honed their craft, and thwarted one of the major British offensives of the war" (http://www.nps.gov/vafo/historyculture/index.htm).

Valley Forge is also celebrated for its emense diversity at this time period. The troops included men from all 13 original states and regiments except South Carolina and Georgia. Men, women and children were all different ages, ethnic backgrounds, and religions.

The Park History

Valley Forge was the first state park of Pennsylvania in 1893 by the Valley Forge Commission. In 1923 VFPC brought under the Department of Forest and Waters and later incorporated the park into the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in 1971.

In 1976, Pennsylvania gave the park as a gift to the nation for the Bicentennial. Congress passed a law, signed by President Gerald Ford on July 4th, 1976, authorizing the addition of Valley Forge Park into the National Park System.


Valley Forge Today

The National Park Service administers the park. It is part of the Department of the Interior, which is funded by the United States taxpayers. Valley Forge offers ranger-led walking tours, trolley tours, school programs, and reenactments. Some of the yearly events include March-In reenactment each December, March-Out reenactment each June, French Alliance celebration each May, Washington's Birthday celebration each February, and 5-mile Revolutionary Run each April.Currently the park is finishing a new exhibit at Washington's Headquarters. In 2010, the Visitor Center will be updated. These projects are both funded by grants obtained through various organizations. Valley Forge website www.nps.gov is used as a place where people can find out all types of information about the park - everything from history to direction on how to get here may be found there. At Valley Forge ther is about 80 paid employees and 100 volunteers. In 2007, Valley Forge received 1.2 million recreational visitors. This number has remained about the same for the last 5 years. (Information taken from the Pete Maugle information)

Park Threats

An over population of deer are endangering the vegetation. Read more at.....http://www.ncpa.org/mid_atlantic/valley_forge/valley_forge-wildlife.html

A controversial proposal- the building of a new museum- is angering people who argue the construction will cover and destroy too much park land. Read more at.....http://www.ncpa.org/mid_atlantic/valley_forge/

Places To Visit

The Welcome Center

Before visiting any of the following sites, make sure to stop by the welcome center. The information desk should be the starting point for a visit to Valley Forge. Here you can get a map in english and three other languages. The map will help you on your self-guided tour. It also has information on special hikes, tours, events and educational programs.

The Muhlenberg Brigrade

Open Saturday and Sunday 11 - 3:30

Visit the Muhlenberg Brigrade where the staff interprets the daily lives of the soldiers as well as the women. This tour stop also shows the log cabins of a general and a soldiers fully equiped and furnited.


Behind the Name

The Muhlenberg Brigrade is named after Peter Muhlenberg who was a clergyman, a soldier and a politician of the Colonial, Revolutionary and Post-Revolutionary eras.In 1777, Peter Muhlenberg as well as his division, the Eighth from Virgina, was sent north to join Washington's army at Valley Forge. He was made a Brigradier General of the Virgina Line and commanded the Brigrade in Nathanael Greene's division at Valley Forge. Peter Muhlenberg served in the Battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth.

George Washington's Headquarters

Within a week of the army's arrival at Valley Forge, General Washington recognized that he would need a place to organize and orchestrate the plans for the entire army that, in addition to the troops at Valley Forge, were spread throughout the colonies to the north and south of the encampment. Although the majority of the troops residing at Valley Forge through the winter of 1777 and spring of 1778 lived in huts, many of the General Officers shared or rented local farm houses. This practice was customarily done to accomodate the needs of a general's staff and aides.General Washington rented this house, owned by Isaac Potts, from its occupant, Mrs. Deborah Hewes. Here the General and his staff received local officials and foreign dignitaries, in addition to coordinating the daily operations of the of the entire continental army.

Washington's Headquarters Area in the outside

The earthen mound on the left is a railroad embankment with a station designed to fit in with the surrounding buildings. In the days of train travel, passengers would disembark here and tour the Isaac Potts house, Washington's headquarters. Here Washington lived and worked, dealing with numerous problems, including othe theaters of war, discipline, supply, and keeping his job. The Schuylkill River is beyond the embankment, and Valley Creek, which flows into it, is visible on the right. A grist mill and saw mill were just upstream, and further were the lower and upper sites of the Valley Forge, one of many iron making facilities in the region. Obscured by the trees and outbuilding is the David Potts house. At the foot of the hillside behind the headquarters (not visible) were the huts of Washington's guards. On the opposite side of Valley Creek is thought to have been the location

of McIntosh's North Carolina brigade. The North Carolinians were used to warmer weather and built their huts like they would have back home, completely above ground, and they suffered as a result. http://www.apimag/Content/thumbnail/2007/20070105/18/00b56ce493d94854a6fb2ed7914b452e.jpg


Varnum's Quarters

Open Saturday and Sunday 12 pm to 4 pm

Visit Varnum's Quarters to see the life of James Varnum during the Revolutionary War.


For decides the house (above) served as the main house for David and Elizabeth Stepheas family farm. But during the Valley Forge encampment, General Varnum and the family both used the house. General Varnum used the house as his headquarters. General Varnum was an officer of considerable

military experience and highly regarded among the Continental Army. During the Valley Forge encampment he commanded the Rhode Island brigade. His administrative skills caused Goerge Washington to refer to Varnum as "The Light of the Camp." General Varnum served from 1771-1779. http://www.lincolnbittner.com/varnums_quarters.html

The Outside of Varnum's Quarters

Varnum's Quarters has been restored and furnished to reflect the appearance at that time. (Interview with Pete)

The Inside of Varnum's Quarters

It is unknown how the inside of the house looked during the Valley Forge encampment. Today the inside of Varnum's Quarters is all an estimament. It includes a place to cook, one bedroom for the family's son and once up starirs it inculdes two bedrooms. One for the David and Elizabeth and one for Gerneal Varnum. In Gerneral Varunm bedroom it also includes his work area. The slide below shows the inside of Varnum's Quarters. (Interview with Pete)

Meet Two Park Rangers

George Matlack

George Matlack is a park ranger, working in the division of interpretation at Valley Forge. His basic responsibilities are to plan, present and take part in programs that interpret the various aspects of Valley Forge's history to the visitors. George Matlack education includes 4 years of BS degree in Forest Science and 7 years working for Pennasylvania. State Parks. He has been working 25 years for the National Park Service. George Matlack is a lifelong resident of southeast Penna, with a strong interest in Revolutionary War history. With this strong interest Valley Forge was a great place for him to be able to work. Presenting programs to the public about Revolutionary War history is his favortive part about his job.

Why should Valley Forge be preserved for future Generations?

To preserve a site, for those future generations, thats symbolic of the sacrifice and dedication that the soldiers of the Continental Army displayed, in order to win independence for the new nation. -George Matlack

Pete Maugle

Pete Maugle is an Interpretive Park Ranger. His responsibilities include giving tours, working at historic buildings, conducting living history programs (dressed in 18th century clothing), leading school field trips, responding to visitor requests for information, working at the Vistor Center information desk, and other various administrative duties.He recieved a Bachelor's degree in History from Penn State University. Before becoming a ranger at Valley Forge, he worked at the park bookstore. Pete Maugle always had a particular interest in American history and military history, and Valley Forge combines both these things. He found the National Park Service was an agency and saw hecould make a career out of what I likehe likedIs this a volunteer or paid position? I am paid by the United States government. What Pete likes most about his job is conducting tours, connecting people to the history here, especially kids.

Why should Valley Forge be preserved for Future Generations?

What happened at Valley Forge is very important for Americans to understand and appreciate their history and to know how this nation evolved. If this place is not preserved, this valuable lesson could be lost. -Pete Maugle

Interview with a Volunteer

Amy Shea-

She volunteers at Valley Forge Park and enjoys her service

She believes that the park is set up as a historical monument, a remembrance to the troops who were encamped there in the winter of 1777.

What was it like for the men that year?

There was 12000 men survived a cold winter. Many of the men were poorly equipped and ill prepared. Poor communication and lack of supplies caused some of problems. Often men had to share coats and boots. Of the 2000 men who died, it was mostly due to the disease. Each men was rationed 1 loaf of bread per day. Later, civilians were added and new military came so 20,000 men left on June 19, 1778.

I was really surprised by that I didn't know that before. So, what was there when they arrived?

At the time there were 18 farms, not the park that is seen today. There were also 2 forges, a grist mill and about 80 bakeries were established to feed the men.

I start to ask her about Washington's Headquarters and it was already there?

She said yes, but it was a house rented from Isaac Potts . Washington needed this house to conduct the business of war, plan future strategies, deal with local society and hold some entertainments. These activities informed locals so they would help contribute to their efforts.

Valley Forge Park can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Most young kids and teenagers do not have the desire to walk around a park and listen to older people talk to them about history. Thats all going to change. Valley Forge has a great new attraction for the younger generation. Instead of paying attention to an adult describe to them about what went on at valley forge, they can simply listen to their cell phones. Whether you are driving, biking or walking you can simply dial the number that is posted on any site at the park and you will be informed about it. This is a fun thing to do and is also very convenient for teenagers who always have their cellphone on them.

A volunteer at valley forge park Mike Saunders explains why keeping the park alive is important.

When asked the simple question, Why should people continue to visit this park? Mikes first answer was because it is history and everything that exist today is a result of history, we as a society are nothing without history. Mike brings up an important point. People often do not realize that if it was not for what went on in history things would not be the same today. It is important for people of all ages to visit Valley Forge park and other important historical places. Something that i found very interesting about mike was that he did not have any degrees in history, he was just an average american. Mike explains how over the years he grew to understand the importance of what went on at valley forge. He explains that this was the place were our ancestors, our soldiers that fight and die for us, rested. Mike volunteers at valley forge whenever they need people, which is always. Mike is constantly trying to get new crowds into the park to help volunteer. He is asking people to just try it once and he promises you will get alot out of it. Mike first started volunteering at the park when he realized one of his ancestors stayed there and was part of the 8th regiment. Mike explains that learning about what went on at valley forge will really move you and give you a new perspective on it, as it did on himself. Give it a chance, mike said and you will be amazed on how much you learn.

Problem Solving Component

It is very important for people to continue to visit and learn about Valley Forge Park to ensure that our history is preserved. One way to attract visitors is to get them involved and to interact witht the history of the park. This can be done by involving the visitors in re-enactments of the training that the soldiers did. The use of toy guns and other equipment will keep the visitor's attention. Volunteers dressed as generals can lead the training and actively teach the visitors. Volunteers are sometimes hard to find and hiring people is costly, therefore getting a nearby school involved is a good solution. A programe can be established with the school and the park to ensure volunteers as a mandatory school requirement. This way the park will have volunteers and students will complete community service.

Support Valley Forge!

To continue to ensure that Valley Forge remains a historical park, the non-profit organization, Friends at Valley Forge, is dedicated to the perservation and promotion of the park. Vist www.friendsofvalleyforge.org to help!

URLS for pictures at top from right to left:

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