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Valley Forge National Historical Park
Valley Forge National Historical Park Review
Valley Forge National Historical Park, administered by the National Park Service, is the location of the 1777-78 winter encampment of General George Washington and the Continental Army. Stop first at the Valley Forge Welcome Center to see the 18-minute orientation film (shown every 30 minutes) and view exhibits. In summer you can take a narrated trolley tour for $16 person and a free shuttle that makes a continuous loop around the park. Stops include reconstructed log huts of the Muhlenberg Brigade and the National Memorial Arch, which pay tribute to the soldiers who suffered through the brutal winter. Other sites are the bronze equestrian statue of General Anthony Wayne, in the area where his Pennsylvania troops were encamped; Artillery Park, where the soldiers stored their cannons; and the Isaac Potts House, which served as Washington's headquarters.
The park is quiet today, but in 1777 the army had just lost the nearby battles of Brandywine, White Horse, and Germantown. While the British occupied Philadelphia, Washington's soldiers were forced to endure horrid conditions here—blizzards, inadequate food and clothing, damp quarters, and disease. Although no battle was fought at Valley Forge, 2,000 soldiers died here.
The troops did win one victory that winter—a war of will. The forces slowly regained strength and confidence under the leadership of Prussian drillmaster Friedrich von Steuben. In June 1778 Washington led his troops away from Valley Forge in search of the British. Fortified, the Continental Army was able to carry on the fight for five years more.
The park contains 6 mi of jogging and bicycling paths and hiking trails, and you can picnic at any of three designated areas. A leisurely visit to the park takes no more than half a day.
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