Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, is an area along the Schuylkill River. It is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia. General George Washington and his troops camped there in the winter of 1777 and 1778, during the American Revolution. These months were difficult for the Americans. The Continental Army endured months of suffering.
Washington led his troops to Valley Forge after defeats at Brandywine and Germantown, Pennsylvania. Many of the 10,000 soldiers lacked shoes and other clothing. They also suffered from a severe shortage of food. By spring 1778, nearly a fourth of the soldiers had died. Many soldiers deserted because of the miserable conditions.
The winter at Valley Forge tested the loyalty of the American troops. Only dedicated patriots stayed with the Continental Army. Many people criticized Washington, but he held his position at Valley Forge throughout the winter and spring. He improved his troops with the help of Baron von Steuben, a former Prussian soldier. Steuben drilled the soldiers in a system of field formations. By spring, Washington had a disciplined, well-trained army.
Today, Valley Forge National Historical Park covers the site of Washington’s camp. The old stone house he used as headquarters still stands there.
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