Various scenes from our June trip: Virginia and Valley Forge
July 07, 2008
We had our picnic lunch at Otter Lake, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, just off of our route. It's called a "lake," but you can see the other end of it in the picture. It's really more of a pond. The sunlight was beautifully clear because it wasn't very humid (unlike where we live).
Sunset over the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Reconstructed cabins at Valley Forge National Historic Park. The ranger we listened to in one of the cabins told us about the role of women at Valley Forge (yes, they were there, had jobs, and some eventually got army pensions). They took care of the cooking, etc., so that the soldiers could drill. She also explained, among many other things, the purposes of stays (right). Along with the obvious bra-ish purpose, stays, if tied tightly, provided back support for the heavy work that women had to do. Poorhouses in England, at the time, had their major funding going to food, but the second item on the budget was for stays for the women - necessary for respectability. Prostitutes were the only women who didn't wear stays - the lack of stays made them "loose" (that's where we get the term).
I won't tell you all the interesting things we heard, but if you're in the Philadelphia area, I highly recommend Valley Forge!
Covered bridge at the edge of the park.
Washington's Headquarters at Valley Forge. It is next to the site where the actual forge was located. The owner of the forge, Isaac Potts, didn't want the colonial troops to store anything at his forge because he feared retribution by the British. He was told that it was too out of the way for the British to bother (this was before the famous winter encampment). He relented, and when the British did come to get the "rebel stores," they burned his forge. He later asked the U.S. Congress for reimbursement, but "there is no record that he ever received it."
The aides' room in Washington's Headquarters.
"General von Steuben drilling Washington's Army at Valley Forge"
We hear so much about the misery at Valley Forge that it's easy to forget that other things, such as military training, went on there. Although the winter was difficult, of the 2,000 men that died there, 2/3 died of diseases such as typhoid and influenza - in the spring months.
General (and Baron) von Steuben trained the soldiers at Valley Forge and molded them into a more professional fighting force. Von Steuben wrote to a friend that, in Europe, "You say to your soldiers, 'Do this,' and he doeth it; but [to the Continental soldiers] I am obliged to say, 'This is the reason why you ought to do that;' and then he does it."
I didn't realize how beautiful Valley Forge would be. Of course, at the time of the Revolution, this field was probably mostly mud from military drilling, but it's beautiful now. You drive around it the entire time you're at the park.
Another view of the field.
This walking/biking trail runs around the park next to the road, and it had been tempting me all afternoon. It wasn't far until our next stop so I decided to walk (that's our van on the road). Daughter's foot was sore so, unfortunately, she couldn't join me. Of course, I realized that, if older son had been along (he stayed home for work and "Music Man" rehearsals), he would have walked with me...
[Okay, I got teary (grin).]
The deer there could care less about people.
The artillery park was our last stop which was good since a rainstorm was moving in.