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The Friends of Valley Forge

Our mission is to advocate for Valley Forge National Historical Park, to enhance the visitor experience and to promote public appreciation of the Park’s historic, environmental and recreational resources.

Brandywine – Meet the Author & Book Signing

Saturday, December 27 1 pm The Encampment Store, located in the Visitor Center
Brandywine cover

Brandywine is the first complete study to merge the strategic, political, and tactical history of this complex operation and important set-piece battle into a single compelling account. More than a decade in the making, Michael C. Harris’ sweeping prose relies almost exclusively upon original archival research and his personal knowledge of the terrain. Enhanced with original maps, illustrations, and modern photos, and told largely through the words of those who fought there, Brandywine will take its place as one of the most important military studies of the American Revolution ever written.

Michael C. Harris

About the Author: Michael C. Harris is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and the American Military University. He has worked for the National Park Service in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at Brandywine Battlefield. He has conducted tours and staff rides of many east coast battlefields. Michael is certified in secondary education and currently teaches in the Philadelphia region. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Michelle and son, Nathanael.

Join the Continental Army!

First Saturday of the month Jan–Apr 11 am – noon Register @ Visitor Center by 10:45
Participants must be 7 years or older
Join the Army

Activities will take place outdoors. Please dress accordingly and wear sturdy shoes. Event is weather dependent.

Children are invited to Join the Continental Army and experience a day in the life of the continental soldier. Recruits will be mustered, or registered, and receive enlistment papers and continental currency. Using wooden (dummy) muskets, participants learn how to stand, march, and carry their musket as one of Washington’s soldiers would have done. Park rangers dressed in continental uniform will train the recruits in a full musket drill.

Move up the Ranks! To advance in skills and be promoted within the ranks of the Continental Army, attendees are encouraged to participate in the four-part training sessions that occur from January – April. A different topic will be addressed each month.

Army Essentials: Children who cannot participate in the four-part Join the Continental Army series can participate in Army Essentials where they learn the basic drills and commands of the Continental Army. Army Essentials is open to children of all ages.

For additional program questions contact Bill Troppman, 610-783-1075.

Note: A special Join the Continental Army program will take place on President’s Day Monday during the park’s celebration of Washington’s Birthday. “Soldiers” will receive a formal inspection by the Commander-in-Chief, General Washington himself, in addition to taking part in a multitude of special birthday activities.

Friends Speaker Series

Tuesday, January 6 7 pm Washington Memorial Chapel
“My Dear”: Officers’ Letters from
the Valley Forge Encampment

While at the Valley Forge encampment the Continental Army officers often picked up their quill pens to write letters home, on many subjects. Most officers wrote to their wives about conditions at camp – although, in truth, this information should not have been shared. Many officers also wrote of their devotion to their wives and concern about the children. Few officers, however, wrote home about such things as postal challenges or even personal finances. It is also clear from the correspondence that, in an age when wives were considered to be property, some women were loved and cherished. Major Samuel Ward penned passionate letters to his “Dearest Phebe” from Valley Forge. (Ward had been married for only a month when he arrived at camp.) It seems, however, that Lt. Col. John Cropper was less enamored with his own wife, pronouncing Peggy to be a “keen ground razor.”

The officers’ letters to their wives from Valley Forge – and the letters from the wives to the officers – give us an up-close-and-personal view of 18th century marriage and a fresh look at the Valley Forge encampment itself. These were not cookie-cutter soldiers, but flesh-and-blood men who were dedicated to fighting for their country’s freedom until, as one officer wrote his wife, “death part us.”

About the Speaker

Nancy Loane

Nancy Loane is the author of Following the Drum: Women at the Valley Forge Encampment (recipient of the American Revolution Round Table of Philadelphia’s “Book of the Year Award”), as well as several articles about the Valley Forge encampment. A popular speaker, she has given almost 200 presentations throughout the country (including at the Library of Congress and Colonial Williamsburg) on the letters from the soldiers at Valley Forge, Martha Washington, the women at camp, and the Valley Forge encampment itself. Her second book, Beneath the Snow: Myths and Realities of the 1777-78 Valley Forge Encampment is forthcoming – hopefully soon.

A former seasonal park ranger at Valley Forge National Historical Park, Nancy currently serves as a volunteer costumed interpreter at the park. She is a board member of The Friends of Valley Forge Park, an honorary life-time member of the Society of the Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge, and a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). A former Pennsylvania Commonwealth Speaker (2006–07), Nancy has appeared on several radio shows and cable network shows, including Pennsylvania Cable Network and C-Span. Nancy was featured in C-Span’s program on Martha Washington in their series on the First Ladies (2013).

Valley Forge Legacy: The Muster Roll Project

muster roll

The Valley Forge Muster Roll is dedicated to the memory of those who were at the Valley Forge encampment from December 19, 1777 to June 19, 1778. The Continental Army used monthly muster rolls to track the army’s strength. Each roll contains names, ranks, dates of enlistment, and other notes on soldiers’ assignments, activities, or conditions. In addition, the names officers, camp followers, civilians and others present at the Valley Forge encampment are included. You may be surprised at the wide array of people who were at Valley Forge.

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