– Revolutionary War Series –
Valley Forge is by far the most famous of the Continental Army’s winter encampments during the Revolutionary War. Just a day’s march from British-occupied Philadelphia, Valley Forge hosted thousands of George Washington’s soldiers during the winter of 1777-78; here the temporary residents endured brutal cold and disease, as well as the constant threat of a potential British assault. While the attack never came, the elements contributed to the death of around 2,500 American soldiers. The upside? The long winter contributed to Army that—with the training of former Prussian officer Baron von Steuben and others—coalesced into a formidable fighting force that would eventually go on to defeat the British at Yorktown in 1781.
Today, Pennsylvania’s Valley Forge National Historical Park covers much of the land occupied by Continental troops and preserves a handful of historic structures from the time period. The best way to explore the park is by foot or by bike, but if time and energy are running low, the 10-mile Encampment Auto Tour offers a fine introduction to the park. Highlights include reconstructed army huts, old redoubts and artillery parks, a massive Visitor Center, and the National Memorial Arch.