Valley Forge - Pennsylvania Historic Site

General Washington (Portrayed by Carl Closs) at Valley Forge

Where is Valley Forge? The Park is in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania at 1400 North Outer Line Drive, King of Prussia, PA 19406.

Valley Forge Map

Did you know: General Washington and his Army spent a total of six months- from December 19, 1777 to June 19, 1778 at Valley Forge.

After the bombardment of Fort Mifflin and losing Philadelphia, General George Washington needed to regroup. The British preoccupation with Philadelphia had actually allowed him to successfully move much of his Army to safe, high ground on December 19, 1777 outside the city- Valley Forge. Named for early 18th century iron forges along Valley Creek, Valley Forge was a good place to regroup and re-think his strategy.

Washington knew the Winter could be rough on his Army, so he set them immediately to building crude cabins within which to live. Due to the abundance of timber nearby, this was not a problem. All along the hillsides, Washington’s troops constructed shelters of his design to accommodate 12 men each: “dimensions 14 by 16 feet, sides, ends and roof made of logs, the roof made light with split slabs, the sides made tight with clay…”

Even though his troops were able to construct shelters, many had no shoes, little clothing and nothing to eat. Each day brought new challenges with festering wounds and sickness among the men. Dysentery, diarrhea and other maladies plagued the majority of his Army. It is estimated that out of an original 12,000 troops, approximately 2,000 perished. Conditions became so horrible, on some nights men would begin yelling “No bread, no soldier!” As conditions continued to worsen, dozens of men began yelling out loud “No meat!! No meat!!” Washington was not far from them and he heard their cries.

Writing to the President of the Continental Congress on December 23rd, he begged for assistance. “The Army must inevitably be reduced to one or other of three things- starve, dissolve or disperse…” With only “fire cakes and water”, the men managed to hang on. It is truly a miracle that any survived. Yet Washington was a deeply religious man who believed in Divine Providence. He knew deep down inside that their cause was just and they must prevail. It appears God heard his pleas. In early January 1778 Washington got some good news- a letter from Baron Frederick von Steuben, offering his services as a volunteer. Von Steuben had served 25 years before on the staff of Frederick the Great of Prussia and promised to share his knowledge of military tactics and training with Washington’s Army. He came just in time.

More than anyone at Valley Forge, von Steuben was responsible for making this rag-tag, undersupplied and somewhat inexperienced Army into a disciplined fighting force. His regular drills and strict regimen of training helped re-kindle the patriotic fervor amongst the men, who desperately needed something to believe in. His rigorous tactics gave them the self-confidence and energy to survive- and they did, staying at Valley Forge for six months into the Spring of 1778.

Today Valley Forge is a National Park where you can walk the open fields which have replica structures from the encampment, Washington's Headquarters (original structure) and a visitor center containing a museum along with a film and gift shop.

Valley Forge National Memorial Arch Valley Forge - General Anthony Wayne Valley Forge - Washington's Headquarters