My wife and I had to travel a bit on Saturday, so on the way we decided to spend some time a Valley Forge National Park. We’ve been to the park several times, but always enjoy going back and exploring parts which we may have missed 1.
We didn’t have a lot of time to stop, but we were able to explore the memorial arch, and take a tour of Washington’s Headquarters. The latter structure has never been open to the public during my other visits, so this was quite a treat.
The arch is a beautiful memorial, though it’s adorned with a typical blend of civil and Christian religions which causes my brain to twitch 2. Still, the arch was an impressive structure and worth seeing.
On our way down to Washington’s Headquarters we encountered a story-teller. He invited us to sit in some benches and listen to a story or two which he had to share about the Revolution. We requested a tale about “Women in the Revolution,” and this gentleman went into a wonderful yarn highlighting many of the woman who were part of the larger world of the Continental Army. Some, like Martha Washington, were officers wives who joined their husbands during Winter encampments. Others were camp followers, staying near their husbands and earning a living by doing laundry, cooking, and tending to the wounded 3. Still more managed to find their way into combat, taking up the musket and even serving in artillery crews. He ended mentioning the apocryphal “Molly Pitcher,” and highlighted how she was an amalgamation of many women who served in the Army — most of whose names we’ll never know. There were several of these storyteller around the park, and I felt it was an excellent way to make the story of the place come alive.
Washington’s Headquarters itself was a treat. The building is 80% original, and the rooms were set up much as they would have been during the encampment. The house itself was a rental property, owned by some of the people who ran the businesses along the steam 4. Typically it would have been rented by workers from the local businesses, but the British had come through and demolished the forges the September before Washington’s army arrived, so the house was empty and waiting tenants when he arrived in the area. The structure is not large, and would have houses over 25 people during the encampment. “Personal space” was much different back then!
All told, it was a good way to spend an afternoon.
- Especially when our previous visits included lugging two kids along. Both of whom wanted to be done so they could continue on to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. ↩
- Civil religion and any other religion should not be mixed. Ever. Look at the “Evangelicals” who are bending over backwards to justify supporting Donald Trump and you’ll see why this is so. The blend pollutes both contributing parties, and has a terrible corrupting influence the non-civil religion. ↩
- And who were also forbidden to march with the army through Philadelphia on the way to Brandywine. They had to travel with the baggage. ↩
- Including the forges which gave Valley Forge its name. ↩