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Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was a onetime member of the elite General Staff of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. No longer in the Prussian Army, indeed without employment of any kind, von Steuben offered his military skills to the patriot cause. When he arrived at Valley Forge from France on February 23, 1778, he was armed with a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin. General Washington saw great promise in the Prussian and almost immediately assigned him the duties of Acting Inspector General with the task of developing and carrying out an effective training program.
Numerous obstacles threatened success. No standard American training manuals existed, and von Steuben himself spoke little English. Undaunted, he drafted his own manual in French. His aides often worked late into the night, translating his work into English. The translations were in turn copied and passed to the individual regiments and companies that carried out the prescribed drill the following day.
Von Steuben shocked many American officers by breaking tradition to work directly , with von Steuben's aid, had made an army of the Continental troops. With their French allies, the Americans could now proceed with the war.
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I found this character and his history really interesting. I was wondering why a place in the US was called "King of Prussia"!!
Valley Forge is a great place to enjoy Nature. For me, Europan city girl, such open spaces were just... amazing (I've no words!!)
The park has19.5 miles of designated hiking trails. In addition, hiking is permitted in most open areas of the park.
The 6.6 mile Joseph Plumb Martin Trail connects the key historic and interpretive sites, you can easily hike or bike it. A great way to learn history and enjoy nature at the same time.
No battles were fought at Valley Forge in southeastern Pennsylvania. This was a training ground for Washington's troops. Here, Washington trained his army into during the winter of 1777-78.
Each tiny log cabin, heated by a small fireplace, housed 12 men. Can you imagine that in winter? No wonder so many soldiers died due to illness and hunger.
The huts you can see are not originals but replicas. Interesting indeed.
Dr. W. Herbert Burk founded the Memorial in 1903. As per their website: "The Memorial stands in remembrance of those brave men and women who have given so much to insure and maintain our freedom in America. But especially we remember those who gave so freely of their time, talent, treasure, and lives to win our freedom in the American Revolution".
Nice place to stop when visiting the Park, and maybe you can get there to attend a carillon or organ concert.
At Stop #2 on the auto tour is the defensive line of the Muhlenberg Brigade, where today stand several reconstructed huts that effectively show the primitive shelters that protected our troops (or some fraction thereof) during the harsh winter. In season, park personnel in period costume answer questions concerning the park and the huts (even though a few years ago an arsonist torched a few of these shelters).
VT fact-finder zrim has since alerted me that the picture depicted is actually a line of soldiers' huts across from Washington's headquarters rather than that from the Muhlenberg Brigade. I believe he will concur though that the huts in both places are similar. . .
A simplified version of the Triumphal Arch of Titus in Rome, the Valley Forge National Memorial Arch signifies the entrance of Washinton's Continental Army into Valley Forge.
It was designed by Paul Cret, a University of Pennsylvannia professor. It was dedicated on June 19, 1917, 139 years after the evacuation of Valley forge.
The memorial is carved granite and is the most imposing if not slightly out of place structure in the park. There was some controversy when it was first erected due to the artists design.
On the north side of the arch the inscription reads: "To the officers and private soldiers of the Continental Army December 19, 1777 June 19, 1778"
On the south elevation:
"Naked and starving as they are we cannot enough admire incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery"
The arch sits at the corner of Outerline Drive and Gulph Roads. All the traffic goes by in a rush, I wonder just how many per day stop and think about these braves souls and what they did for our country?
Von Steuben offered his services to Washington in order to train the troops and to instill a regular military discipline into the ranks. In the center of the Valley Forge auto loop is the Grand Parade ground where von Steuben did his drilling. His commemorative statue stands near Stop #9 by General Varnum's quarters.
Though there was no action here during the conflict, the colonial troops set up prudent batteries to guard against a sudden move by the British troops quartered in nearby Philadelphia. Single cannon and rows of guns appear in various places throughout the park, such as Stops 6-8, the redoubts and battery park.
One of the neatest structures within the park is the former home of Isaac Potts, commandeered during the 1777 winter by Washington for his headquarters. Constructed of stone in two stories with a single prominent chimney, the house seems a perfect prototype for rural domiciles of the well-to-do in the colonial period.
Erected in 1917, the Memorial Arch is the most considerable monument at Valley Forge. Commemorating the "patience and fidelity" of the soldiers who wintered here in 1777, there is no more fitting memorial to our fallen heroes throughout the state of Pennsylvania (save the Pennsylvania Monument at Gettysburg).
"Mad" Anthony Wayne (as he became known) was one of Washington's more stalwart lieutenants, and while not as successful in his address or campaigns as Nathaniel Greene, Wayne deserves credit for his staunch support and energy during the Revolution. At Valley Forge, this bronze equestrian statue stands near where Wayne's troops were encamped during the awful winter of 1777.
Beautiful and moving sculpture, given by Stephen Heckscher, Esq., in. honor of the Mothers of the Nation and in memory of his. wife, Henrietta Brown Heckscher, who died died on childbirth on 1912.
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