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Why Valley Forge?

The series of maneuvers and engagements that led to the Valley Forge encampment began in late August 1777 when Sir William Howe, commander in chief of British forces in North America, landed his veteran army at the upper end of Chesapeake Bay. His objective was to take Philadelphia, the patriot capital. General Washington positioned his Continental Army to defend the city. Howe's skillful tactics, combined with errors made by Washington's army, led to a British victory at Brandywine, the flight of the Continental Congress to York, PA., the British occupation of Philadelphia, and a defeat at Germantown.

With winter setting in, General Washington looked for a place to rest and train his men. He selected Valley Forge, located 18 miles northwest of Philadelphia. It was an excellent choice. Named for an iron forge on Valley Creek, the area was close enough to the British to keep their raiding and foraging parties out of the interior of Pennsylvania, yet far enough away to halt the threat of British surprise attacks. The high ground of Mount Joy and Mount Misery, combined with the Schuylkill River to the north, made the area easily defensible.

Learn more about Valley Forge:

Why Valley Forge?
Setting Up Camp
Training a Fighting Force
Diversity of the Revolutionary Soldiers
Marching Out of Valley Forge
Visiting Valley Forge National Historical Park