A “vict'ry of will, not weapons”,*
A winter of suff'ring, disease,
Encamped for the winter American men
Surviving, but just by degrees.
Congress had previously promised
Provision and shelters prepared,
But no support for these twelve thousand men,
But faith in their leader declared.
Their clothing in tatters, no shoes on bare feet,
No shelters and blankets too few,
Land stripped by the British, so little was spared,
But courage would carry them through.
Provisions lacking, they ate “fire cakes”,
Just flour and water they baked,
Looking ahead, independence they sought
And shivered while bellies still ached.
Humbled but proud, Washington praised
The men who chose to endure,
Diseased yet valiant, they remained firm,
Facing a victory obscure:
“Naked and starving as they are
We cannot enough admire
The incomparable Patience and Fidelity of the Soldiery.”*
In the elements, the freezing rain,
Men hunkered down to wait,
No food to feed the hungry,
No warmth to celebrate.
Ravaged by sickness,
Laid waste by disease,
Unfit for duty,
One-third on their knees.
This winter of suff'ring,
Laid the foundation
For this independent nation
Established with representation.
Washington wrote, "that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place... this Army must inevitably... starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can."**
“Do not underestimate the capacity of the rebels for suffering. They will not melt away with the next winter storm. If anything, that will toughen them and make us weaker.”
-VALLEY FORGE, Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen
“To see the men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie upon, without shoes...without a house or hut to cover them until those could be built, and submitting without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience which, in my opinion, can scarcely be paralleled.”
-George Washington at Valley Forge, April 21, 1778**
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