Today in History
Headquarters - Valley Forge
Have you ever wondered why they make so much of Valley Forge?
victories follow the winter Washington’s army spent there? Perhaps
this was the turning point in the war. Or maybe the war was almost
ended. Why do historians revere Valley Forge? It was, and is, only a
small place located near Philadelphia, where the "blackest
night" had been preceded by a very dark morning. The winter of 1778
wasn’t a pleasant place to be.
Americas Christian History,
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The wind is cold and piercing on the old Gulf
Road, and the snowflakes have begun to fall. Who is this that toils
up yonder hill, his footsteps stained with blood? "His bare
feet peep through his worn-out shoes, his legs nearly naked from the
tattered remains of an only pair of stockings, his breeches not
enough to cover his nakedness, his shirt hanging in strings, his
hair disheveled, his face wan and thin, his look hungry, his whole
appearance that of a man forsaken and neglected." On his
shoulder he carries a rusty gun, and the hand that grasps the stock
is blue with cold. His comrade is no better off, nor he who
follows....and the ruts of the rough country road are deep and
frozen hard. A fourth comes into view, and still another.... (M)ore...
come.... A thousand are in sight, but they are but the vanguard of
the motley company that winds down the road until it is lost in the
cloud of snow-flakes that have hidden the Gulf hills. (Henry
Armitage Brown, 1878)
Trials, that rarely have failed to break the
fortitude of men, await them here. False friends shall endeavor to
undermine their virtue and secret enemies to shake their faith....
Cold... and Hunger enter ...be their constant guest; Disease shall
infest.., and Famine stand guard.... (But) danger shall not frighten
nor temptation have power to seduce them. Doubt shall not shake
their love of country nor suffering overcome their fortitude. The
powers of evil shall not prevail against them, for they are the
Continental Army, and these are the hills of Valley Forge!
While this was going on Providence was at work.
Amazingly, this was the very time the colonies were called by Congress
to a day of thanksgiving!
The first national Thanksgiving was written by
the "Father of the American Revolution" at its turning
point, translating an ancient regional custom into America’s most
beloved tradition sanctified by the sufferings of Washington’s
army outside Valley forge.
As the army at Valley Forge was preparing for their
winter trial-and survival, Congress’ proclamation reached Washington
who, on December 17th, issued the following order:
Tomorrow being the day set apart by the Honorable
Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling us devoutly
to express our grateful acknowledgments to God for the manifold
blessings he has granted us, the General directs that the army
remain in its present quarters, and that the Chaplains perform
divine service with their several Corps and Brigades. And earnestly
exhorts, all officers and soldiers, whose absence is not
indispensably necessary, to attend with reverence the solemnities of
Although they didn’t learn of it until February 6th,
1778, it was on this very day when Washington and
his army were honoring God with their Thanksgiving that France
signed the treaty.
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