The Battle of Valley Forge

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The Battle of Valley Forge

The American Revolution era was one of the most significant time periods in the history of America. As America became more popular and gained more states they had to somehow break free from British rule. The thirteen colonies joined together to slowly gain freedom from Britain and become it’s own independent country. They began to decline British rule and eventually lead to war, to what is now known as the American Revolutionary War. The British sent invasion forces into New England in order to try and regain its power over the states, but they failed and were driven out by Washington and his army. After, George Washington, the general of the troops at the time, moved his troops to a more secure location for the soon coming winter. This location was known as Valley Forge. The times in Valley Forge were known to be very difficult for the soldiers fighting. According to more traditional sources, the soldiers lacked food, shelter and warmth and were also in need of more men. According to Robert Middlekauff’s text from “The Glorious Cause”, the times at Valley Forge were indeed miserable and the troops suffered greatly. Jack Rakove’s text from “Revolutionaries” agrees with Middlekauff’s view, and adds that over two thousand soldiers died that winter. However, Ray Raphael takes on the less traditional view and states that the soldiers did not in fact have such great difficulty. When you compare and contrast the other sources, Ray Raphael has a more persuasive document, as opposed to the more traditional accounts.

Robert Middlekauff’s “The Glorious Cause” takes on the traditional story of Valley Forge, one that it was of extreme suffering and conditional, careless decisions, yet one of bravery and hope. Valley Forge was a difficult time for the soldiers fighting for their country. The conditions were severe and there were no buildings, as the troops had to put up their own. The troops lacked shoes, clothing and soap and frequently had nothing to eat. The soldiers were starving and many were cold and sick. The water for all uses had to be carried for considerable distances. These are only few of the problems the soldiers faced day by day. George Washington, the leader of the troops, did his best to find food and get it to Valley Forge. Although Congress encouraged Washington to seize food that troops needed, Washington resisted suggestions. He recognized that relief of his troops hunger would undercut principles of revolution, and political support of people. Instead, he sent commissary in search of provisions, seized supplies, and attempted to protect seller's interest as much as possible. Washington’s orders suggest that he did not overlook many ways of maintaining discipline. The soldiers were absolutely miserable. They lacked everything an army needs for survival, from clothing to food to shelter. They had been hungry for weeks and suffering for months. After all of agony and distress, the soldiers pulled through with hope, and continued to fight.

“Revolutionaries”, by Jack Rakove, as well, speaks about the great hardships and suffering that the soldiers went through at Valley Forge. George Washington was somewhat of a tough leader who knew his priorities. “We have not more than three months to prepare a great deal of business in, and if we let these slip or waste, we shall be labouring under the same difficulties all next campaign as we have done this.” He explains that although George Washington understood the difficult circumstances that the men were going through, they had to continue in order to prevent from a cycle of the same things happening again. According to Rakove, when the winter at Valley Forge began, the soldiers were “barefoot, huddled in the snow around flickering fires”, while the enemy was sleeping warm, well fed, in nearby Philadelphia. In mid February, the men were lacking meat, and drenching rains washed out roads, swelled rivers, and badly disrupted the flow of...
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