In December 1777 Gen. George Washington brought his troops to encamp at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, about twenty miles outside of British occupied Philadelphia. The large stone mill house beside an iron forge on the homestead of Quaker Isaac Potts became headquarters to the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, the "Pentagon" so to speak, and housing for himself, chief aids, officers, and advisers, etc. for the next six months. The house had an attached kitchen, downstairs parlors, bedchambers upstairs, and servants/additional sleeping quarters in the attic. There may have been a log annex beside the house to help accommodate up to the twenty five individuals who supported the General.
Washington used this hilly country at Valley Forge to his advantage, building defensive lines on the ridges overlooking Philadelphia to the east and nestling the camp against the Schuylkill River to prevent attack from the north. From here he also could protect the outlying regions, including York, where the Continental Congress had ﬂed. The area had abundant fresh water, trees for shelter and firewood, and food and forage from local farms. The move to Valley Forge prevented the British from making any inroads into Pennsylvania’s interior, still heavy with supplies. Washington and his troops remained at Valley Forge until June of 1778 during which time he trained his troops, boosted morale during the harsh conditions that developed, and maintained his status as head of the Continental Army.
Here I am, humbly smoothing my hand over the same wooden railing that George Washington touched many a time as he climbed the stairs to his bedchamber for rest. Or perhaps he simply leaned upon this post as he pondered the fate of our country.
How often did the great general pace this hallway, I wonder. From the door he could view some of the troops small log huts (see photo below), ever mindful of his soldiers. It is said that Gen. Washington would allow soldiers to come in out of the cold and rest on these very stairs.
General Washington's office is set up as it would have been as during his time at Valley Forge.
The photos below show the officer's parlor where they conducted their business.
The iron forge beside the mill house certainly was an advantage to have handy for the army.
To get an idea of what the entire encampment looked like click on this map to enlarge. You will see where Washington's headquarter's is located in the top area and area that inhabited the 11,000 plus troops.
If you'd like to see the general's bedchamber, please visit my post George Washington Slept Here.
Have you ever been to Valley Forge? Is there an historical location that you have been that ever left you awe struck? I really think this one was it for me on many levels.
New Englander CARLA GADE writes from her home amidst the rustic landscapes of Maine. With eleven books in print she enjoys bringing her tales to life with historically authentic settings and characters. An avid reader, amateur genealogist, photographer, and house plan hobbyist, Carla's great love (next to her family) is historical research. Though you might find her tromping around an abandoned homestead, an old fort, or interviewing a docent at an historical museum, it's easier to connect with her online at carlagade.blogspot.com.