Tag: George Washington

The Valley

Washington's HQ
Washington’s HQ at Valley Forge

All have read about George Washington’s army spending the winter of 1777-1778 at the village of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. At long last, I got to see the famous place, and get an idea of what our ancestors had to do to survive in that environment.

Crossing the Delaware River the day before, and putting-up with the incessant commands from Mrs Garmin, our aptly named GPS unit, we wound our way across Southeastern Pennsylvania to the location just northwest of Philadelphia. The country side is beautiful, and Valley Forge National Park is a natural beauty in itself, showcasing the beautiful, green rolling hills of the rich Pennsylvania countryside.

We were transported to the late eighteenth century to a time when my North Carolina ancestors, Jeremiah and Henry, were encamped with George Washington’s army. The film at the Visitor’s Center at the Park told the story of what transpired. Most of the men didn’t have shoes or boots, and many of the approximately 12.000 encamped there were without adequate clothing. Their officers described their state as being virtually naked in the winter elements.

Over 2,000 men died that winter of sickness, and most of those were the ones sent to local hospitals to receive medical attention. It was no accident that more men died while under medical care than those who refused medical care. Such was the state of medical science in 1777.

All the units built log huts to weather the winter. It was not a particularly hard winter, but it was a wet winter with snow and lots of rain, compounding efforts to bring in food and other supplies. According to the introductory film at the Park, the best equipped soldiers were from Connecticut, where the colonial government was able to collect supplies and money for their care.

North Carolina Regiments Marker at Valley Forge
North Carolina Regiments Marker at Valley Forge

The worst supplied men were from North Carolina, the colony of my ancestors. The men were cold, hungry, naked to a good extent, and had no shoes. Their guns were not adequate, and their food was touch and go all winter.

As spring came to Pennsylvania, George Washington started training the army with a newly arrived professional Prussian soldier, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. von Steuban taught the men to handle rifles, bayonets, field drills, and general soldiering. With the help of interpreters, he also wrote a training manual. When the soldiers left Valley Forge in the spring, they were a new army.

Log Huts Similar To Those Built By American Continental Soldiers
Log Huts Similar To Those Built By American Continental Soldiers

The British army decided to vacate Philadelphia, and Washington pursued them into New Jersey. The Brits were not in a mood to fight, but were moving their army to New York. Washington’s army caught up with the British rear guard close to Monmouth, New Jersey, and attacked. It was a hot and deadly chase. It was also the first time an American army had fought the professional British soldiers toe-to-toe with rifles and bayonets, and did not back down. The British were the ones that left the battle field.

The Battle of Monmouth was a victory for the Americans, and I had two ancestors in that proud army.

As we celebrate another anniversary of the founding of our country, we cannot forget what George Washington and his army of men from the American back-woods managed to do. It was by the will and perseverance of those men that we became a country.

I pray it is God’s will that we can spread our message of freedom to the world for another 237 years.

Happy Who Dat Day!

Why do we have a President’s Day holiday?

picture of New Orleans Saints "Who Dat" fan
Who Dat?

Why should we celebrate the existence of all past leaders of our nation? So many were mediocre leaders, or just objectionable characters. Some of those Presidents we admired in our youth have turned out to be nothing short of trashy people.

A case in point was John F Kennedy, a man who was shot down in the prime of his event filled life. With formerly confidential information coming out, it is evident that Kennedy was a womanizer of the first order. His historic affair with Hollywood beauty Marilyn Monroe would have been laudable if it were not for his cheating on one of the most popular, and attractive, first ladies in history, Jackie Kennedy. There were many more JFK dalliances in the Whitehouse, and the Secret Service did their job, well.

Then, there was Bill Clinton. I think you get the idea.

You can go down the list of Presidents. From Washington to Lincoln, FDR to JFK, and Bush to Bush. These men were good men with the best intentions for our nation. Out of all these men, only two of them merit serious consideration for a national holiday.

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln stand out from the crowd. Both of these men lived in times when their principled actions made the difference between a free nation, or no nation at all.

Two great men deserve highest honors, and therein lies the problem. The idea of a single President’s day grew out of a conflict in the wish to honor both Washington and Lincoln, each on their birthdays. The solution became obvious to our Congress.

Congress established President’s day to honor all of those  rascals who had ever served. In other words Congress did what they do best. They established a meaningless holiday fit only for retail sales targeted towards a populace ignorant of why there should be a holiday, at all.

President’s Day? We have no idea who we are honoring. Why not enlist the linguistic abilities of our Cajun friends in New Orleans, and co-opt their Super Bowl slogan.

Let’s rename President’s Day, “Who Dat?” day. It makes more sense that what we have now.