Wednesday, December 19, 2012
On December 19, 235 years ago, George Washington's Revolutionary Army troops completed an exhausting march from their quarters in White Marsh outside Philadelphia. British troops commanded by General Cornwallis had taken Philadelphia in September after a successful three pronged sweep through the countryside. White Marsh was no longer safe. Washington's destination was Valley Forge, a community named for a nearby iron forge on Valley Creek. Valley Forge is 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia, a distance that Washington considered safe for winter quarters, but close enough to counter any British move out of the city. Several days later snow began to fall in what would become a severe winter storm. Temperatures plummeted reaching a low of 6 degrees. Images of Washington's Valley Forge encampment endure - bloody footprints in the snow, men without proper clothing huddled in blankets, inadequate food. Washington sought money from the Continental Congress for provisions. Moral was terrible. Men suffered, men deserted, men died. Think about their travails as you shovel snow this week. Washington prevailed against these odds.