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American Revolution
Valley Forge - Winter of 1777-1778

Valley Forge - Winter of 1777-1778
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.85

     challenging words:    outfought, sheds, bloody, retake, snowstorm, commander, costly, better, miserable, leading, ration, nonsense, extremely, army, defeat, rags
     content words:    United States, In September, General William Howe, General Washington, Valley Forge, Schuylkill River, Their Thanksgiving, Quartermaster General Thomas Mifflin, Baron Friedrich, Von Steuben

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Valley Forge - Winter of 1777-1778
By Jane Runyon

1     In 1777, the capital of the United States was Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The British army was convinced that the war they were engaged in with the colonial soldiers of America would be a short one. They had a superior army. The colonials were neither trained nor well equipped. In September of 1777, the British commander, General William Howe led his army of 15,000 to Philadelphia. He thought that if he captured the American capital, the war would be over. General Washington tried to stop the British troops at Brandywine, Pennsylvania, but he was outnumbered and outfought. Howe was able to capture Philadelphia without a fight.
2     Washington and his men tried to defeat the British at Germantown in October. Again they were defeated. It is easy to understand why. Washington had tried to surprise the British. His men had marched thirty-five miles to Germantown and fought a four hour battle all in one day. That was not an easy task at all.
3     By this time, it was getting late in the year. It was the practice in those days for an army to find a camp and stay there during the cold winter months. The British were warm and secure in the city of Philadelphia. Washington needed to find a place for his men. They were low on food. Their uniforms, the few there were, were torn and tattered. Many of the men had no shoes or boots. They had to find some place close so that they could regain their strength and try to get ready for the battles to come. Washington decided on Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. They arrived at Valley Forge on December 19. It had taken them eight days just to march thirteen miles. A snowstorm and icy rain had slowed their progress. They had to build a makeshift bridge to take the troops across the Schuylkill River. There are those who say that you could track the American army by the blood in the snow. The feet of those with no boots were cracked and bleeding. They tied rags around the bloody feet when they could. A day of Thanksgiving was declared by Washington when they were just a day away from Valley Forge. Their Thanksgiving feast consisted of a half cup of rice and a tablespoon of vinegar.

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