The Winds of War

Life at Valley Forge--A Diary

Created by,
Chris Weber-Johnson

Curriculum Info  Meet the Author

Continental Soldier


The Continental Army, under the command of General George Washington, camped at Valley Forge from December 19, 1777 until June 9, 1778. With the arrival of the army, much changed in the community and in the lives of the residents of Valley Forge. Over the six months, the army also underwent a change. It arrived at Valley Forge as a ragged band of undisciplined soldiers in desperate need of clothing, shoes, food, and shelter. Those soldiers who didn’t die or become too sick left as part of a confident, well-trained, professional American Army.

You are to create and become a character (man or woman) that is involved with Valley Forge, either as a resident or as someone associated with the army. Visit the websites listed below. use the bacts and your imagination to create a "real" human being and authentically describe the setting, your daily routine, and your thoughts and concerns. Write at least 3 days of diary entires (more days can be completed for extra points). Each entry (day) must be at least one page long, historically correct, and accurately dated. This project must have:

1) A creative journal cover

2) Your name on the inside front cover

3) Character's name on the front cover.

Deciding on Your Character: Who Are You?
    •Amazing Women in War and Peace
Not all soldiers were men. Some women followed their husbands into battle and took their places when they fell. A few disguised themselves as men and enlisted. Learn about one who enlisted here.
    •National Park Service Museum Collections:
An exciting site which describes a lot about military life and has photos of the various artifacts that were used. Also describes the different types of soldiers (officers, riflemen, horsemen, artillery).
    •A Colonial Family and Community
At this site, you can be a “history detective” and investigate the daily lives of the Daggetts, a colonial family who lived in Connecticut in the 1700s. Many aspects of their lives are similar to those of the residents of Valley Forge since farming heavily influenced both communities.
This site, based on Colonial Williamsburg, describes a number of trades in which people in Valley Forge may have been involved.
Learning about the Setting
    •The First Hundred Years at Valley Forge
This site gives good descriptions of what the countryside in and near Valley Forge was like before and after Washington’s army stayed there in 1777-1778. It also describes the types of occupations that were done by the local inhabitants.
    •The Weather at Valley Forge
The Continental Army camped at Valley Forge from December 19, 1777 to June 9, 1778. This site has information that will help you to authentically describe the weather during the three-day period you choose to use for your diary entries.
    •The Story of Valley Forge
This site gives a lot of information about what life was like for the soldiers at Valley Forge. There are a number of links (words written in blue near the top of this site) to specific places within this long document. You can scroll through the web page or click on the link to go directly to that spot. Here are descriptions of four very informative links:

“Introduction” gives an overview of the suffering endured by the American solders during the first three months at Valley Forge.

“Suffering” takes you directly to the section that talks about housing, food, and transportation for the soldiers at Valley Forge.

“Unhealthy Life” describes the poor sanitation and health conditions at Valley Forge and the diseases and medical treatment the soldiers got.

“Things Improve” provides information on how the soldiers’ physical needs were better met once the harsh winter was over, and how their morale and military skills improved after von Steuben arrived in late February.
    •Valley Forge Tours
Photographs allow you to take a virtual tour of Valley Forge and the area around it. See Washington’s headquarters, recreations of the soldiers’ huts, and get a feel for how homes in the area, the countryside, and the vegetation look.
Military Life at Valley Forge
    •Valley Forge Commissariat
Three days after arriving at Valley Forge, Washington wrote a letter to Congress pleading for food and supplies. This site contains part of that letter and discusses the types of food and supplies requested and the difficulty in getting them.
    •Patriot Ordeal at Valley Forge
Check out what some students in Davis know about the soldiers’ lives at Valley Forge. Maybe one of your friends helped to create this page!
    •Rev War Musket Demonstration: Training the Army
After von Steuben arrived, the soldiers spent a lot of time drilling. This site contains the training commands for von Steuben’s musket drill. It also has a slide show of the drill and a short movie.
    •From the Diary of Albigence Waldo, Surgeon at Valley Forge, 1777
Seven short entries from this real life journal, written between December 6 and December 22, 1777, explain why the army camped at Valley Forge, and describe the miserable conditions, including sickness, poor food, and “hard lodging.”
Village Life
    •A Colonial Family and Community
This site was listed above. Read the description under “Deciding on your character: Who are you?”
    •Eliza’s Cookbook: Modern recipes for traditional dishes
While supplies lasted, the villagers had better food than most of the soldiers. Here are some modernized recipes for traditional dishes they may have eaten.

Last updated: October 11 2003, 12:51 pm
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