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The Battle Of Valley Forge Helped Create A Combat Ready Army

2132 words - 9 pages

In a time of change and rebellion from the Queens ruling, a small and relatively undeveloped country fought to achieve her independence. A smaller, less equipped force, the Continental Army began its conquest to relieve its people once and for all of tyranny and allow it to be ruled under new found principles and foundations in what was named the Revolutionary war. The Revolutionary war in many ways marked the beginning of this conquest, an overall fight for freedom and justice. While the much better equipped English Army sat in idle comfort a band of Continental volunteers survived a grueling winter under the command of General George Washington and under the strict drills of Baron Von Steuben proved to create a hardened more resolved fighting force than Britain ever imagined. The events that took place at Valley Forge and the individuals that survived the grueling winter of 1777-1778 successfully completed the transition from civilian to soldier, educated to leader, and created a combat ready force that set forth on a victorious campaign against the British forces.
The time was December of 1777 and General George Washington’s 12,000 man army had just met defeat in the city of Philadelphia to the hands of British General Howe. To the credit of the Continental army Howe’s execution of his battle plan has been referred to as perfect textbook tactics and there was not much that the relatively untrained Continentals could do to defend against it. The men had made approximately a 20 mile tactical march from Philadelphia to the open grounds of Valley Forge. The area was chosen for its clear ability to observe British movement and battle formations as well as the ability to create a network of defensive and retreat positions. With winter closing in fast and the area barren with little to no shelter the Continental army was force to construct rickety wooden structures using little in the way of tools to create proper shelter. Since the force was poorly supplied the men had very little in the way of clothing food or medical supplies to treat and prevent disease. The winter meant no crops could be planted and food would be in short order for the already starving men. As the cold set in the tattered clothing and lack of boots led to many casualties. The Marquis de Lafayette wrote: "The unfortunate soldiers were in want of everything; they had neither coats nor hats, nor shirts, nor shoes. Their feet and their legs froze until they were black, and it was often necessary to amputate them." During these harsh times Washington would lose approximately 2000 men to the cold, disease and starvation. This was an obvious crush to the Generals already low numbers. This would also cause some men to desert; those caught were either hung or lashed. James Sullivan Martin, a Connecticut soldier at Valley Forge, wrote about the hard winter;
Most soldiers lived in tents and were not only shirtless and barefoot, but destitute of all order of clothing,...

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