Join our Mailing List
ECFA Accredited

Call to leave a prayer that will be heard around the nation.

Call to leave a prayer that will be heard around the nation.

×

Pray With Others

Record a prayer to share with others.

Dial 844-599-7729

Dial 844-599-7729

Up Next:

Headline Prayer

Categories:
Articles Videos Events
190 People Prayed
528 People have read this article

VALLEY FORGE: CRUCIBLE OF FREEDOM

Heavenly Father, we thank You for standing with America at a very critical time in our history!

The winter of 1777-1778 was one of the most important in our nation’s history, for that winter was the turning point of the American Revolution. During that winter the American Army faced as great an ordeal as any army in history.

Before the American Army moved into Valley Forge in December of 1777, it consisted of undisciplined men who had obtained few victories in their war with Britain, but the next spring they marched out as a well-disciplined band, committed more than ever to their General and the cause of liberty. They were now prepared to see victory through their efforts.

What was the ordeal this Army faced? How did such a change occur during the stay at Valley Forge? What was the cause behind this change?

As the American Army, under the command of George Washington, moved toward their wintering spot at Valley Forge, army troops had no clothes to cover their nakedness, nor blankets to lie on, nor tents to sleep under. Washington stated: “For the want of shoes their marches through frost and snow might be traced by the blood from their feet, and they were almost as often without provisions as with them.”1

Their situation even worsened after their arrival at Valley Forge on December 19th. Lack of food and provisions for his men was central to Washington’s appeals to Congress. In a letter to Congress dated December 23, 1777 Washington wrote, “Men are confined to hospitals, or in farmers’ houses for want of shoes. We have this day no less than two thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine men in camp unfit for duty, because they are barefoot and otherwise naked.”2

About one third of all his troops were unfit for service, and this number increased as winter progressed. “The unfortunate soldiers were in want of everything. They had neither coats, hats, shirts, nor shoes,” wrote Lafayette. “The men,” said Baron Von Steuben, “were literally naked, some of them in the fullest extent of the word.”3

Hunger was even a greater danger. “The army frequently remained whole days without provisions,” said Lafayette. “One soldier’s meal on a Thanksgiving Day declared by Congress was a ‘half a gill of rice and a tablespoonful of vinegar!’ In mid-February there was more than a week when the men received no provisions at all.”4

Dr. Waldo gives this description:

There comes a soldier, his bare feet are seen through his worn out shoes, his legs nearly naked from the tattered remains of an only pair of stockings; his breeches are not sufficient to cover his nakedness, his shirt hanging in strings, his hair dishevelled, his face meagre. His whole appearance pictures a person forsaken and discouraged. He comes and cries with an air of wretchedness and despair, “I am sick, my feet lame, my legs are sore, my body covered with this tormenting itch.”5

Due to this lack of food and clothing, hundreds of the troops fell sick. Many men’s “feet and legs froze till they became black, and it was often necessary to amputate them.”6 During most of January and February there were “constantly more than 4,000 soldiers who were incapacitated as a result of exposure, disease, and undernourishment.”7

And in the midst of all of this they persevered! Beyond this, the patient attitude with which they endured this misery was no less than supernatural. Washington wrote April 21, 1778 to a congressional delegate:

For, without arrogance or the smallest deviation from the truth, it may be said that no history now extant can furnish an instance of an army’s suffering such uncommon hardships as ours has done, and bearing them with the same patience and fortitude. Their submitting without a murmur is a proof of patience and obedience which in my opinion can scarce be paralleled.8

What could possibly have held this army together through this ordeal? Baron Von Steuben said no European army could have held together in such circumstances. How then could an inexperienced American Army stick together? Was it due to good discipline? “With regard to military discipline,” Von Steuben states, “no such thing existed.”9

Could it have been the financial reward they would receive? Not hardly, for their meager pay was already four to five months past due, and complete payment would never come. What was it then?

Most historians agree that the reason for their perseverance at Valley Forge can be attributed to their love of liberty and to their General George Washington, and his amazing quality of leadership. George Bancroft states that “love of country and attachment to their General sustained them under their unparalleled hardships; with any other leader, the army would have dissolved and vanished.”10

His character and encouragement inspired the army to follow his example. From the beginning he tirelessly traveled throughout the camp, his very presence bringing strength to the men. His heart was for his men as well as for his country. As Washington observed his naked and distressed soldiers, he said: “I feel superabundantly for them, and from my soul I pity those miseries which it is neither in my power to relieve or prevent.”11

Washington knew that the cause for which they fought was well worth any price — even the suffering at Valley Forge — for they purchased liberty, not only for them, but for the generations to come. While at Valley Forge, blood was not shed in battle, yet the American Army shed much blood. Henry Brown writes,

The blood that stained this ground did not rush forth in the joyous frenzy of the fight; it fell drop by drop from the heart of a suffering people. They who once encamped here in the snow fought not for conquest, not for power, not for glory, not for their country only, not for themselves alone. They served here for Posterity; they suffered here for the Human Race; they bore here the cross of all the peoples; they died here that freedom might be the heritage of all.12

It was Washington’s character that helped sustain the army, but what sustained Washington? This question could easily be answered by Washington’s troops or officers, for they knew his trust was completely in God. The army had frequently seen Washington order his men to attend church and to observe days of prayer and fasting and days of Thanksgiving.

Washington was also very instrumental in securing chaplains for the army. Rev. Henry Muhlenberg relates how General Washington “rode around among his army … and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away the wickedness that has set in and become so general, and to practice the Christian virtues.”13

It was said of Washington, in a sketch written by an American gentleman in London in 1779 that “he regularly attends divine service in his tent every morning and evening, and seems very fervent in his prayers.”14 General Knox was one among many who gave testimony of Washington frequently visiting secluded groves to lay the cause of his bleeding country at the throne of grace.

A number of people have recorded the story of how a Tory Quaker, Isaac Potts, came upon Washington while he was on his knees in prayer in the woods. Benson J. Lossing relates that Potts later made the following remarks to his wife:

If there is anyone on this earth whom the Lord will listen to, it is George Washington; and I feel a presentiment that under such a commander there can be no doubt of our eventually establishing our independence, and that God in his providence has willed it so.15

On May 6, 1982, President Reagan remarked on this event in his National Day of Prayer Proclamation:

The most sublime picture in American history is of George Washington on his knees in the snow at Valley Forge. That image personifies a people who know that it is not enough to depend on our own courage and goodness; we must also seek help from God, our Father and Preserver.

In this most difficult of times, General Washington constantly relied upon God and trusted in Him for success. God was faithful to answer his prayers, and through Washington He eventually established our independence and secured the beginning of the most free and prosperous nation the world has ever seen.

How did God answer Washington’s prayer? One miracle occurred that winter which helped eliminate their near-starving situation. Bruce Lancaster relates the event as follows:

One foggy morning the soldiers noticed the Schuylkill River seemed to be boiling. The disturbance was caused by thousands and thousands of shad which were making their way upstream in an unusually early migration. With pitchforks and shovels, the men plunged into the water, throwing the fish onto the banks. Lee’s dragoons rode their horses into the stream to keep the shad from swimming on out of reach. Suddenly and wonderfully, there was plenty of food for the army.16

God’s providence can again be seen as Baron Von Steuben, a veteran Prussian soldier, came to Valley Forge on February 23 and offered his services to the American Army. No one could have been more valuable at the time, for he trained the men to move together as a well-disciplined army.

His rigorous drilling and training of the troops gave them confidence in themselves as soldiers, even as Washington had given them confidence as men. Not only had godly character and strength been forged and tempered within the army, but military skill had also been imparted to them at last.

Another providential event occurred that winter when France became an ally to America. This meant much needed French money and troops would begin to pour into the new nation. The Continental Congress acknowledged this as the hand of God as they declared a National Day of Thanksgiving on May 7.

In Washington’s orders issued at Valley Forge, May 5, 1778, he proclaimed:

It having pleased the Almighty Ruler of the Universe propitiously to defend the cause of the United American States, and finally by raising up a powerful friend among the Princes of the earth, to establish our Liberty and Independence upon a lasting foundation; it becomes us to set apart a day for gratefully acknowledging the Divine Goodness, and celebrating the event, which we owe to His benign interposition.17

The troops’ survival, the molding of a disciplined army, Washington’s amazing leadership, and all the miraculous occurrences during the winter at Valley Forge can only be attributed to Almighty God. George Washington said following all this: “The hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligation.”18

 

End Notes

1. George Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol. 6, Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878, pp. 40-41.
2. Henry Armit Brown, “Centenial Oration of Valley Forge,” in The Christian History of the American Revolution, Consider and Ponder, Verna Hall, compiler, San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1976, p. 61.
3. Ibid.
4. Bart McDowell, The Revolutionary War, Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1970, p. 128.
5. William Wilbur, The Making of George Washington, Alexandria, VA: Patriotic Education, Inc., 1973, p. 196.
6. Brown, in Consider and Ponder, p. 61.
7. Wilbur, p. 195.
8. Bancroft, p. 50.
9. McDowell, p. 131.
10. Bancroft, p. 41.
11. Bancroft, p. 42.
12. Brown, p. 66.
13. Ibid., p. 68.
14. William J. Johnson, George Washington the Christian, reprinted by Mott Media, Milford, MI., 1976, pp. 120-121.
15. Ibid., p. 104.
16. Bruce Lancaster, The American Revolution, Garden City, NY: Garden City Books, 1957, p. 42.
17. Johnson, p. 113.
18. Johnson, pp. 119-120. (Used with permission by The Freedom Foundation and Stephen McDowell)

190 People Prayed
528 People have read this article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 Replies to “VALLEY FORGE: CRUCIBLE OF FREEDOM”

  1. Father, may you turn the hearts and minds of the people back to You and Your plan for our nation and the world. Guide us to pray for Your ways to direct us on the right paths. We look forward to that time when Your will will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven when Your righteousness will fill the earth. This will happen when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives. (Acts 1:9-11)(Zechariah 14:4)

    Many people may be interested in a book “Miracles In American History–32 Amazing Stories of Answered Prayer.” It is by Susie Federer, Adapted from William J. Federer’s “American Minute.” When one can see the hand of God throughout our nation’s history, one is motivated to ask Him for even greater intervention. Perhaps a revival of Christian harvest is waiting for us.

Share to My Groups

Login

Forgot password? Click here to reset it.

Don't have a login? Click here to create a new account.


Sign Up to Pray for
Your Elected Officials

You will receive our weekly e-alerts.



Already have a profile? Click here to login.

Privacy Policy/Terms of Use

Our policy and terms of use are applicable in any and all Intercessors for America related websites including but not limited to GetAmericaPraying.com and ifapray.org.  Use of this website indicates agreement with its terms of use policies.

We are concerned about and respect your privacy while visiting our web sites. Intercessors for America will never sell, lease or rent your confidential information, though non-confidential information (name and address) may be given to outside vendors. We always will endeavor to take steps to assure that financial information you provide to us will remain secure. We want you to feel safe in your online experience while visiting our site. We, therefore, request that you take a moment to review the following valuable information.

Collection of Information
Intercessors for America does not collect personal information without your knowledge while you are visiting our web site.

However, Intercessors for America allows you to provide personal information on our web site. The type of information we collect directly corresponds with the service you request. For instance, you can make donations, offer your thoughts, opinions, prayers, concerns, ideas, personal experiences, questions and/or suggestions. The type of information we collect is only voluntary and used for purposes of interacting with the website or with others viewing the website.  Also, the information may be necessary to facilitate our response to your specific request such as your name and contact information.

If you request to have a resource sent to you and/or make a donation, Intercessors for America will collect the information necessary to complete this transaction which may include your contact information, credit card number and other transaction information.

If you offer your thoughts, comments, opinions, concerns, ideas, personal experience testimonies, request prayer, ask questions, etc., Intercessor for America collects that information and may use the information in one of the ways set forth in the following section titled “Use of Information.”

Use of Information
Intercessors for America uses the information provided by you to:

Disclosure/Sharing of Information
As stated above, Intercessor for America does not sell, rent or lease your confidential information to others. On some occasions, vendors will approach Intercessor for America with a product that we determine might benefit our supporters. In that instance, we will provide non-confidential information.

Regarding links to third-party web sites
Intercessors for America’s Privacy Statement does not govern any exchange of information between you and any third party web site. IFA does not monitor, and is not responsible for, the privacy and data use policies of its corporate sponsors. We recommend you review their policies (likely to be found on their web sites) prior to accessing, but especially before sharing any personally identifiable information. Similarly, this Privacy Statement does not govern the privacy practices of any third party web site to which you might link from the IFA website.

Ability to Edit and Delete
If you would like to correct, update, add, or delete personal information, simply let us know by calling us at (800) USA-PRAY or write to us at Intercessors for America  P.O. Box 915  Purcellville, VA 20134 and we will respond promptly to your request.

Changes
Intercessors for America reserves the right to make changes to this privacy policy at any time and requests that you review this policy for updates.

Content Disclaimer
Please understand that all postings, messages, text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, or other materials ( “Content”) posted on, transmitted through, or linked from this website, are the sole responsibility of the person from whom such Content originated. More specifically, each person is entirely responsible for each individual item (“Item”) of Content that they post, email or otherwise make available via the Service. Please understand that IFA does not control, and is not responsible for Content made available through the Service, and that by using the Service, you may be exposed to Content, as much as we try to prevent it, that is offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. For the health of the IFA community you must agree that you will evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of any Content, and that under no circumstances will IFA be liable in any way.  Be wise and understand that IFA does not pre-screen or approve Content generated by our community of website users, but IFA does have the right (but not the obligation) in its sole discretion to refuse, delete or move any Content that is available via the Service, for violating the letter or spirit of the terms of understanding or for any other reason. If you ever find objectionable material please contact us at 800-USA-Pray or use our contact form to notify us.

Questions or Suggestions
Please direct all questions or comments regarding this privacy policy to Intercessors for America at  Intercessors for America P.O. Box 915  Purcellville, VA 20134

This web site may provide links to external web sites maintained by individuals or organizations external to Intercessors for America. Once you access information that links you to another web site, you are subject to the privacy policy of the web site containing the information you have linked to.

Online Personal Safety
We hope and pray that all intercessors involved in Intercessors for America are trustworthy, well-meaning, and have a heart for prayer for our nation.

However, please take the same common sense precautions online as you would offline. People online are not necessarily who they say they are or seem to be. Never give out passwords, credit card information, or other private data. Be very wary of disclosing private information to a stranger you meet via prayer messaging. Even apparently innocent information, like the name of your employer, can be used against you by scammers.

When meeting with someone for the first time to gather to pray or establish a prayer group in your local area, please remember to:

Taking these precautions will help make your online experience safer. Any risk in using Intercessors for America’s online web tools to connect with others is assumed by you. Intercessors for America disclaims any liability or responsibility for acts, omissions, or conduct by you or any other party using its online web tools.

For more information about online personal safety, check out these resources:

Statement of Use
All of the content, images, logos and photos appearing on this website are copyrighted and are the property of Intercessors for America. Other images, brands or logos are copyright of their respective owners. Information and images found on the site cannot be reproduced either in print or electronically without express written permission from Intercessors for America.

The IFA or GAP Web Site may contain links to third party web sites such as those posted by members of the Get America Praying website.  These third party web sites are not controlled by IFA. The links to these web sites are provided for convenience. IFA is not responsible and assumes no liability for the contents of any of these web sites, and unless expressly stated does not endorse these web sites or their contents, products, or services. IFA is not responsible for the content of any sponsor’s Web page linked to the IFA web site, and the opinions and views expressed on the sponsor’s Web pages do not necessarily reflect those of IFA. The contents of the sponsor Web pages are not reviewed in any way before they are linked to the IFA web page. Intercessors for America reserves the exclusive right to remove any links, posts or members that it deems necessary for any reason. The intended usage of the website is for the facilitation of prayer groups.  Requests for donations other than for the owner of the site, posting of blogs and misuse of site is expressly forbidden.  Inactivity of any group or site for more than 90 days will constitute an automatic removal of the member or group from the site.

Skip to toolbar
Share