Autumn was wearing its brightest apparel on my vacation to southeast Pennsylvania two weeks ago, as you can tell from this photo I took. But the setting—Valley Forge—might come as a great surprise to my readers—though I doubt if they would be more surprised than Continental Army soldiers, in the winter of 1777-78, facing a gray, muddy landscape, might be at the thought that joggers, walkers, families, and couples would one day enjoy the grounds where they waited patiently, often starving, for what might be an enemy attack.
I intend to write about that legendary, but often misunderstood, episode in American history two months from now. But for now, let’s just say that the service personnel here, badly clothed for the weather they faced, would have looked askance at the word “finery,” even when used for poetic (or quasi-poetic) purposes, as I’m doing here. They would have substituted “foppery” for “finery,” as it reminded them of a world of corruption being perpetrated by the mother country without their consent.
Approximately 1,800 enlisted men—roughly 10% of George Washington’s force—died here in the five months of this third winter encampment of the Continentals. It was one of the early sacrifices for this country that we remember—and honor—on Veterans Day.