Valley Forge is a national treasure and it is in Philadelphia’s backyard.
Valley Forge National Historical Park is nationally significant as the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army under General George Washington. Few places evoke the spirit of patriotism and independence, represent individual and collective sacrifice, or demonstrate the resolve, tenacity and determination of the people of the United States to be free as does Valley Forge.
The historic landscapes, structures, objects, and archeological and natural resources at Valley Forge are tangible links to one of the most defining events in our nation’s history. Here the Continental Army under Washington’s leadership emerged as a cohesive and disciplined fighting force. The Valley Forge experience is fundamental to both American history and American myth, and remains a source of inspiration for Americans and the world. In late 1777 while the British occupied the patriot capital of Philadelphia, Washington decided to have his troops winter at Valley Forge, a day’s march from Philadelphia. Valley Forge was a naturally defensible plateau where they could train and recoup from the year’s battles while winter weather, impassable roads, and scant supplies stopped the fighting.
On December 19th, 1777, 12,000 soldiers and 400 women and children marched into Valley Forge and began to build what would become the fourth largest city in the United States, with 1,500 log huts and two miles of fortifications. Lasting six months, from December until June, the encampment was as diverse as any city, with people who were free and enslaved, wealthy and impoverished, speakers of several languages, and adherents of several religions. Concentrating the soldiers in one vast camp allowed the army to protect the countryside and be better able to resist a British attack, but it became costly when lack of supplies and hunger a afflicted the inhabitants, and diseases like influenza and typhoid spread through the camp. While there was never a battle at Valley Forge, disease killed nearly 2,000 people during the encampment.
This “march in” marked what ultimately became the turning point of the Revolutionary War.
Valley Forge National Historical Park commemorates this date each year with candle-lit tours, musical performances, and an appearance by the Commander-in-Chief himself. Ranger-led walks along the Joseph Plumb Martin Trail lead to the Muhlenberg Brigade Huts. Tour the huts to learn about life during the encampment and hear tales from Continental soldiers. Meet General George Washington and learn about his experiences at Valley Forge. Be sure to get a photo with the Commander-in-Chief while you’re there. Additional programming at the Visitor Center includes live performances of 18th century music, great refreshments and more.
Residents of The Wynnewood can easily get to Valley Forge, especially since there is parking available at both locations.