He and his army did not fight on the undulating terrain of Valley Forge,
but 2,000 of George Washington’s men died on the grounds. Today, the
3,500-acre Valley Forge National Historical Park remembers and honors
the dedicated and disciplined soldiers who lost their lives here at the
encampment of 1777-78, during America’s War for Independence. Protecting
the interior of the state of Pennsylvania from further British
occupation — the Redcoats had already captured the patriot capital,
Philadelphia, several miles to the south — Washington’s army trained
here for future battles.
Under the supervision of Prussian-born Baron Friedrich von Steuben, a
volunteer to the cause of the young country, a relatively inexperienced
group of men honed their skills and became the successful Continental
Army. These men came from each of the original 13 states, from all
professions, and from all ethnic groups, including African Americans and
American Indians. Working together, they built log cabins, miles of
trenches, forts and an impressive bridge across the Schuykill River.
Sadly, diseases such as typhoid and dysentery killed hundreds of men.
The National Park Service manages Valley Forge today; a
plethora of tours, activities, museums, hiking and biking trails and
“live history” are offered. Visitors may drive their vehicles through
the park, taking advantage of the cell-phone tour, which directs them to
stop at places of interest. A trolley tour is also available and can be
picked up at the well-stocked Welcome Center, which features an
18-minute film depicting life at the encampment in Washington’s day.
Highlights on either tour include Isaac Potts House (Washington’s
Headquarters), Artillery Park, National Memorial Arch, Varnum’s Quarters
and more. Although there is no camping allowed in the park, picnic
areas are offered. Nearby campgrounds are located in Coatesville.
The area around Valley Forge, including Montgomery, Bucks and Chester
counties, is certain to entice RVers to linger; outstanding golfing,
fishing and shopping call. The King of Prussia outlet mall, purported to
be the largest retail mall in the country, requires a full day to
explore — and, there is no sales tax on clothing!
For more information: http://www.nps.gov/vafo