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The Valley Forge campaign is undoubtedly one of the major milestones in the history of the American Continental army which fought against the British colonial army in North America. The continental army arrived Valley Forge camp on the 19th of December, 1777. The army of about 11000 soldiers was led by George Washington. Following the results of the last battle in the year 1777 (the battle of white marsh), there was need for change of tact in the operations of the continental army. The winter climate also prompted a change of site for camping. Several suggestions were made but the army finally settled on Valley Forge after a decision made by Washington.
After arriving at the camp site, the soldiers began building shelters amidst various challenges such as inadequate tools for preparing building materials. Fighting did not take place right inside the valley. However, the most important plans and strategies that would later earn the army total victory over the British army were made during the period of camping in Valley Forge. Therefore, the period spent in Valley Forge turned out to be an important step in the race of liberating America from British colonialism.
The conditions in the camp were probably the most trying especially during the first three months of camping period. It was winter and the climatic condition that dominated over the other conditions was the cold weather. The soldiers arrived at the camp and started building hurts to protect them from the harsh cold of winter. However there was scarcity of building materials such as timber and inadequate building tools such as axe. Stronger timber for building stronger shelter had to be transported from far places. Therefore it had to take the soldiers a long time to build the shelters that they urgently needed.
The army troops also lacked adequate clothing. In a letter written by one leader of the troops to George Washington, he describes that a half of the army were necked. Most of the soldiers had tattered shirts and did not have coats. Some very essential clothes such as blankets were very few in the camp. A head of a troop also reports that majority of the soldiers did not have shoes. In fact, it is reported the y left behind foot prints of blood whenever they walked in and outside the camp.
In addition there was shortage food in the camp. The soldiers did not get enough food to eat and after a short period of time it was clearly evident on them. They started getting emaciated and tired. Some also lacked guns while others had to acquire guns on their own. Some soldiers were not paid salaries because the continental congress did not have adequate funds. They therefore extended the suffering at the camp to their dependent families at home because they were not able to support them. In deed the soldiers endured hardship conditions at Valley Forge but made the hard decision to press on.
The hardships were as a result of inadequate finances to support the activities of the army. At some point Washington thought that the army would dissolve if the situation continued. He emotionally presents a report to the continual congress regarding the hardships that the soldiers underwent on the ground. He is seriously moved by the conditions that were described in the reports sent to him. However, the soldiers endured the conditions and encouraged themselves that their course is worth suffering for.
Valley Forge marked a significant difference in the history of discipline in the American continental army. The soldiers had portrayed discipline by enduring hardship in a respectful manner. However, there was a disciplinary transformation that took place in the camp. This time round professional aspects of discipline were put in place and the soldiers had to change their view concerning military discipline. In fact the changes were too drastic and demanding.
Disciplinary transformation commenced by the arrival of Baron Friedrich von Steuben at the camp in Valley Forge. Steuben was skilled in professional military discipline having worked as a soldier in the Prussian Army and a member of the elite General staff of the king of Prussia called the Great King Frederick. Steuben was recruited into the camp from Paris in France by Benjamin Franklin. Franklin wrote for him a letter which he took to George Washington and was allowed to offer his military training skills to the continental army. He trained the soldier on military discipline that majorly emphasized on response to commands. He drilled them on military parade which is the major platform for instilling discipline among soldiers. It was reported in a written work by one of the soldier trainees that his voice was heard in the camp throughout the day shouting commands to the soldiers. The commands were followed by organized responses from the soldiers’ side. This was a testimony of the high level of discipline that had been attained among the soldiers. The climax of showcase of military discipline was on the 6th of May, 1778 when France officially joined the continental army in the war towards liberation of America. Washington’s men showed high levels of military skills during the celebration parade. This was a culmination of various sessions of disciplinary training in the camp.
Change of tact was one of the major reasons why the American continental Army moved to Valley Forge. Their performance in the immediate last engagement against the British forces was not good. Therefore the continental army needed to adopt more superior tactics in order to win against The British colonial army. One of the tactics that was used by George Washington was the location of the army camp. It was located in Pennsylvania, about 20 miles from Philadelphia the biggest town in the region. This location enabled along distance from Philadelphia hence could not be easily reached by the British army forces in the town. This position also enabled them to keep the British forces out of the interior of Pennsylvania.
Another change of tact that was significant during this period was the military training. It was sure that after the training, they would be better in their fighting abilities. This was evident in the subsequent battle engagement against the British forces. There was tremendous improvement and success. After the training the soldiers were able to fire their guns with higher speed. They could also organize themselves in a better way during the battle.
The continental army also sort support of France. After merging with the French forces on May 1778, the joint became strong and warn in most battles against British forces. The continental army also used the strategy of controlling strategic places. Washington kept watch over the British forces and whenever he heard that British were moving to a place that would earn them advantages; he lined up the continental army to intercept them.
In conclusion, the Valley Forge camp was a turning point in life of the battle against colonialism. It was during at Valley Forge that winning strategies for the continental army were drafted and enforced. It is at Valley Forge that the liberation soldiers went through transformation and came out ready to conquer liberation and accepted nothing else. Indeed it is at Valley Forge the army that was originally as a group of rebels turned into a trained army of American People.