Sunday, September 12, 2010

Valley Forge

Early on Sunday morning we met traveled to

Valley Forge National Historic Park.

Have I mentioned that I don't do mornings?

No, we didn't get to go in here.

Meet our tour guide, David.

David has a PhD in History.

Apparently, with such a prodigious degree,

one can either become a museum curator,

a college professor or a tour guide.

David has chosen to become a tour guide*.

*As far as you know.

As you can see, at least some of Valley Forge

inhabits the high ground.

But, at that time in warfare,

this was not really an issue.

The logistics of trying to move an army through

the mires of winter-logged roads just made

fighting war in winter impracticable.

Thus, armies hunkered down for the winter back then.

Here are the remains of a military redoubt.

In this incarnation it is a simple earthen embankment,

meant to protect the colonial soldiers from the British

who were stationed fifteen miles away in Philadelphia.

These are reproductions of the huts that the

soldiers lived in at Valley Forge.

David explains the daily life of the colonial soldier.

This is a replica of how the soldiers' huts are supposed to be built.

An earthen oven was built to feed the soldiers.

The soldiers were taught that they could hold their

arm in the oven for "X" number of seconds and the

oven was hot enough.

More or less and it was too hot or not hot enough.

Not exactly a roomy abode by today's standards.

Twelve enlisted men were expected to stay in here.


What if you were sick?

Or if it were raining?

No, thought not.

An interesting tidbit was that at one point

1/3 of the soldiers were sent back to their huts

due to nakedness.

A touristy arch.

More touristy statues.

And now a lesson in how not how to build your quarters.

Apparently, some soldiers thought that they would save time and energy
by digging their quarters into the hillside
(straight down the hill next to the cabin).

Alas and alack,

they did follow the rest of the regulations

for their quarters

in that they were to put their latrine behind

the house.

Well, what do you know?

Things do run downhill.

Not good.

Not good at all.

Again I am sorry about the poor picture,

but we. were. on. a. mission.

This is a statue of Mad Anthony Wayne.

It seemed that he gained that nickname

because his answer for every problem was,


Now, Mad Anthony is also important

in both Ohio and Indiana history.

He marched through the Great Black Swamp

in Ohio, fought the native Americans

and later gave his name

(with or without his permission)

to Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

And now a word from our sponsor.

Your government at work (or play):

once, the drop-off point for Pott's House

(Washington's Headquarters)
was right next to the house.

But now it is at the top of the hill.

And thus an elaborate handicapped

walkway has been built.

But guess what?

It ends at a grassy field.

That's right folks.

You have to walk across the grass

to get to the house.

Give a hand to

"Your Government at Play"

(and all with your money).

Yeah, it's historic.

You need to spend my money.

I got it.


Not a walkway in sight.

Yep, this was a good plan.

And remember,

we still have to go back up the hill.

Half a year later,

we reach the house.

From the rear.

Is that an entrance or what?

We're waiting for our guide to let us in the house.


Who's that on that man's shoulder?

I think there's a "story" involved there.

Sorry about the quality of the pictures here,

but I was trying to get out of everyone else's way.

Anyway, it is thought that much of the planning for the war

was done in this room.

Or in this room.

And in this room.

Take your pick.

This room was most likely originally the dining room.

An interesting side note:

we learned that despite what was often depicted

in history books or movies,

Washington's Headquarters

was in the center of an eighteenth century industrial village

not in the middle of nowhere.

Up the narrow stair case.

In colonial times,

stair cases were often considered a waste of space

and they would often try to squeeze them

into a minimum of space.

Thus they were often narrow and steep.

This is the room where they believed that Washington slept.

However, none of the furniture is original to the house.

Dang, it was darn difficult to get a good pic of this room.

Another upstairs room.

No, Washington did not get this house to himself.

Several people actually stayed here during the winter

at Valley Forge.

Another side note:

Washington originally did not stay here,

but lived in a tent like his men.

He vowed to live like them until they all

had permanent houses.


he made the mistake of allowing his

officers to build their huts first.

Of course, once the officers had their huts built,

they had no impetus to make sure that the

common soldiers' huts were built.

Eventually, in mid December,

Washington decided that enough was enough

and moved into these headquarters.

The parks service has tried to replicate the experience

as best they could.

I guess a short person slept here?

George Washington touched this handrail.

And so did I.

Across the breeze way is the kitchen.

In olden days the kitchen had to be separated from

the main house due to the threat of fire.

Just let me loose.

The beehive oven from the outside.

The breezeway between the kitchen and the main house.

History lesson!

Aparently we were on a schedule.

And you will hear more about that later.

This is a statue of Baron Freidrich von Steuben,

who really wasn't a baron and was embroiled in

personal scandal.


it wasn't a good thing to be thought to be gay

back in the 1700's.


he was brought in to whip the disparate colonial

militia into shape.

He did so and earned his place in American history.

The parade grounds.

It seems that the "Baron" was known for his temper.

The troops liked to set him off.

And he liked to play it up.

All in all,

a good time was had by all.

The cathedral at Valley Forge.


we are on a schedule.

Next up -


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