Best stories about Valley Forge
November 7, 2008 1:28 PM   Subscribe

I am looking for the best, most powerful, most engaging stuff on the internets about the Valley Forge encampment.

This is for an exercise in frameshifting. I am going to use this piece of history as part of a blog post designed to motivate a team that's recently suffered a setback and needs to kick it up a notch.

General and personal narratives about the encampment welcome.
posted by By The Grace of God to Society & Culture (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have any specific advice, but I think you should contact some of the people who like to reenact the Revolutionary War.

The only group I can send you to is the one my brother belongs to: 2nd Albany.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:45 PM on November 7, 2008

Best answer: One of the biggest motivational turning points of the war was the reading of Thomas Paine's pamphlet "The American Crisis" to the troops at Valley Forge. Written at the fort by Paine while he was with the soldiers, it was credited by contemporary observers with revitalizing the spirit of the troops in one of the bleakest hours after the Continental Army's initial setbacks. You may be familiar with the opening lines:

These are the times that try men's souls...Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value...

Lots of sites, including Wikipedia, provide basic info, but for real inspiration you may want to check the details from Scott Liell's great little book 46 Pages:

Working in Washington's camp, Paine had senses the mood of his compatriots and wrote the American Crisis to reassure and re-inspire them with some of the spirit of the preceding summer...

At 2 a.m. on December 26, upon the banks of the Delaware River, Washington ordered that copies of Paine's new pamphlet be distributed throughout the ranks and that these words be read to his men as they were packed into the flat-bottomed Durham boats that would take them across the river to the battle of Trenton. Marching all night, Washington's cold and fatigued troops attacked the town and its unsuspecting garrison of Hessian mercenaries at 8 o'clock in the morning. The sounds of the first shots were mingled with the cries of the Americans shouting lines from the American Crisis as they ran through the sleeping streets. By 9:30 the British garrison had surrendered.

...The American people would begin the New Year with a new spark of hope in their cause. They read accounts of the Battles of Trenton and Princeton just as the American Crisis was being distributed throughout the colonies--hardening their determination and sharpening their sense of what they were fighting for. Once again, exactly a year after the publication of Common Sense, Paine's writing seized the consciousness of the people and played an important role in the critical events of the day.

If the thought of cold, starving Continental soldiers shouting out "THESE ARE THE TIMES THAT TRY MEN'S SOULS!" as they attack the garrison at Trenton through sleet and snow with their feet wrapped in rags doesn't "kick it up a notch" for your team, I don't know what would.
posted by mediareport at 11:43 PM on November 7, 2008

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