Tag Archives: cold

Valley Forge: Washington’s Frost-bitten Army Encampment During the American Revolution

General George Washington at Valley Forge

General George Washington at Valley Forge

Facts About Valley Forge

 

“To see 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

 

  • General Washington's headquarters

    General Washington's headquarters

    g the winter of of 1777-1778 the prospect of more fighting during the war for Independence, was not possible because of the weather, and the poor condition of Washington’s troops. They had fought their last battle of 1777 at White Marsh, and he had decided to rest his troops at a relatively safe and secure position at Valley Forge.

  • 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 poorly fed, ill-equipped army, weary from long marches, struggled into Valley Forge, and the winds blew cold, as the 12,000 Continentals prepared for winter’s fury.
  • The first properly constructed hut appeared in three days. Within six weeks, more than a thousand huts were finished to provide shelter for the rag-tag army. But everything thing else, food, clothing, shoes, and medicines were left wanting.
  • Because of the harsh conditions, and lack of supplies, it is hardly remembered that over 2000 men died, without a shot being fired.
  • Disease at Valley Forge was rampant. Sanitary conditions in the 18th Century were very poor. Small pox, typhoid or typhus (known as putrid fever), pneumonia, and dysentery were some.
  • Valley Forge Arrival

    Valley Forge Arrival

    Most of the troops were inoculated for small pox at Valley Forge, but these men were usually on an inactive status because they were quarantined.

  • It is a little known fact, that more Americans died during this winter, than at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown combined.
  • It is also a little known fact, that over 5000 Americans of African descent served in Washington’s army. African American men were active members on the battlefield, a mixture of freed and enslaved men who took up arms.
  • After the war had ended, a resolution passed by Congress in 1779 decreed that any enslaved man serving with the Continental Army, upon the termination of their service, would be a freed man. And while a majority of men of African descent were freed, a large portion of them were not.
  • Also not widely known is the fact that a great number of Native Americans from the Oneida Indian Nation in particular had a crucial impact during the Valley Forge encampment.
  • Washington’s troops were the most racially integrated of any American army fielded, up until Vietnam.
  • So severe were conditions at times that Washington despaired that the army might have to be disbanded, and every man let go to forage for himself. But with the help of men like General Christopher Ludwig, Friedich Von Steuben, Henry Knox, and a host of Camp followers that consisted of the families, wives, children, mothers, and sisters of the soldiers, who were continually trying to help and raise the morale of Washington’s men, the army survived.
  • Huts for the soldiers

    Huts for the soldiers

    On June 19 1778, after training all winter and their ordeal finally over, they left Valley Forge to pursue the British, and continue the war for Independence.

  • One of Valley Forge’s first tourist attractions was the historic house now called Washington’s Headquarters, dedicated in 1879 by the Centennial and Memorial Association of Valley Forge.
  • One of the earliest people to come as a tourist (and write about the experience) was John Fanning Watson who visited in 1828.
  • The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania established its first state park at Valley Forge in 1893.
  • Valley Forge became a National Park in 1976, for the Bicentennial.

 

Special thanks to authorsden.com and ushistory.org

 

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The “Ice Bowl”: One of NFL’s Most Historic Games

 

A victorious Vince Lombardi is held above Lambeau Stadium

A victorious Vince Lombardi is held above Lambeau Stadium

Fun Facts About NFL’s “Ice Bowl”

 

Where and When?

January 1, 1967 at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

What was the significance of the game?

This was the 1967 National Football League Championship Game.  The winner of this would go on to play the winner of the American Football League (AFL) in Super Bowl II.

What was the final score?

Packers, 21, Cowboys, 17

What 2 famous future NFL Hall of Fame coaches were pitted against each other?

Tom Landry (Cowboys) and Vince Lombardi (Packers)

The Two Star Quarterbacks:  "Dandy" Don Meredith and Bart Starr

The Two Star Quarterbacks: "Dandy" Don Meredith and Bart Starr

The game became known as the “Ice Bowl” because the field was a sheet of ice and the air temperature at game time was -13 Fahrenheit. What extraordinary measure had been used to try to keep the field playable?

Warming it with an underground electric heating grid.  Packer coach Vince Lombardi had purchased a system of heating coils that were implanted six inches under the field. The coils were intended to keep the ground warm enough to ward off freezing. In “When Pride Still Mattered,” a biography of Lombardi, author Dave Maraniss suggested that the problem came about because of the tarpaulin covering the field. The warm air under the tarp formed condensation, which froze immediately upon exposure to the extremely cold air.

How did Cowboy receiver Bob Hayes help the Packer defense throughout the game?

He kept his hands in his pants. Varying accounts exist of whether Hayes kept his hands in his pants only when the Cowboys were running the ball, or for all plays for which he wasn’t the receiver. But whatever the account, Hayes was the Cowboys’ best receiver, he frequently kept his hands in his pants, and this would let the Packer defense know they didn’t need to worry about him for the play.

How cold were conditions that day?

All of these (CBS sportscaster Frank Gifford said, “I think I’ll take another bite of my coffee”, An official tore the skin off his lip when his metal whistle froze to it, The halftime show was cancelled when the marching band scheduled to play found that its instruments were unplayable). After several officials had problems with their whistles, the officiating crew stopped using them and relied only on voice commands. At least Gifford was in a broadcast booth, and the halftime musicians got to go home early.

Which uncharacteristic miscues by the Packers led to the first 10 points for the Cowboys?

Fumbles. The warm-weather Cowboys eventually adjusted to the cold better than the Packers did. After Green Bay had built a 14-0 lead on two Bart Starr passes to Boyd Dowler, the Cowboys’ George Andrie recovered a Starr fumble and ran it seven yards for the Cowboys’ first touchdown. Later in the second quarter, the Packers’ Willie Wood fumbled a punt and the Cowboys recovered, leading to a field goal that sent them into the warm locker room at halftime trailing only 14-10.

How did Cowboys’ halfback Dan Reeves figure in the touchdown that put his team ahead 17-14?

He threw a pass for the touchdown. Reeves, later a successful NFL coach, threw a 50-yard halfback option pass to Lance Rentzel in the end zone, giving the Cowboys a 17-14 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.

A month after the game, Vince Lombardi announced his retirement from coaching, making this the last game he coached in Green Bay. For what Packer player was this the last game he played in Green Bay?

Fuzzy Thurston. After playing for two seasons for the Baltimore Colts, Thurston played the remainder of his NFL career from 1959-67, for Green Bay. Hornung was picked up from Green Bay by New Orleans in the 1967 expansion draft, but retired before ever playing for the Saints. Kramer and Starr retired from the Packers and the NFL in 1968 and 1971 respectively. Besides Thurston, this was also the last game in Green Bay for receiver Max McGee and kicker Don Chandler, two other players who played vital roles in the Packers’ title teams.

The Packers won the game on Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak. The play called in the huddle was “31 Wedge.” As the “31 Wedge” play was written, who was intended to carry the ball?

Chuck Mercein. The play was designed to be a handoff to Mercein. This is another moment from the Ice Bowl for which accounts differ as to what actually happened. David Maraniss writes in, “When Pride Still Mattered”, that Starr fearing Mercein slipping before he could take the ball, decided to keep the ball himself but didn’t tell anyone else. Accounts by Jerry Kramer and others described Starr announcing a quarterback sneak in the huddle. No matter what though, as written in the Packers’ playbook, the “31 Wedge” play was designed to be a handoff to the fullback, who on that play was Mercein.

In the famous photograph of Bart Starr’s winning touchdown, Chuck Mercein can be seen with both hands in the air. He later said that he was not signaling a touchdown. Why did he say his hands were in the air?

To show that he did not push Starr. It would have been illegal to assist Starr by pushing him, so Mercein threw his hands in the air as if to say “look ref, no hands!”

What was later shown to have happened on Starr’s touchdown that could have changed the game’s outcome?

Jerry Kramer was offside. In a frame by frame analysis of that play, Kramer can be seen lifting his hand while the ball remains on the ground awaiting the snap. Even Kramer wrote “I wouldn’t swear that I wasn’t actually offside on the play.” Many Packer fans argue though that Donnie Anderson made it into the end zone on the previous play (the officials spotted the ball about two feet outside the end zone though). In fact, Jethro Pugh, the Cowboy blocked to make room for Starr’s score, supported this theory, saying that most of the Cowboys thought Anderson had scored.

The dramatic ending of the game helped provide the name of the book that Jerry Kramer and Dick Schaap wrote, based on Kramer’s diary of the season. What was the book’s title?

Instant Replay. The replays of Starr’s touchdown, and of Kramer’s block on the play, helped make Kramer much more of a celebrity than linemen usually get to be. “Instant Replay” was released the following year and became one of the best-selling sports books in history. In the locker room after the game, Kramer dissuaded center Ken Bowman, also instrumental in the block, from joining him on camera for a television interview. Kramer argued that he was old and that Bowman’s day of glory would come. Little did Bowman realize how rare such recognition is for a center, or that after that season’s Super Bowl, he would play in exactly one more playoff game in his career.

VIDEO:  The Story of the Ice Bowl

Special thanks to funtrivia.com and wikipedia.com

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Pluto: The former planet still fascinates and intrigues

Pluto with moons:  Charon, Nix and Hydra

Pluto with moons: Charon, Nix and Hydra

Fun Facts About Pluto

 

1. Pluto has an atmosphere

Even though Pluto’s average temperature averages a mere 44 degrees above absolute zero, the dwarf planet has an atmosphere. Not an atmosphere as we know it, but an atmosphere, none the less.

It was first discovered back in 1985, when astronomers watched as Pluto passed in front of a star. They were able to calculate a slight dimming as its atmosphere passed in front of the star, before Pluto itself blocked the star entirely. From those observations, they were able to calculate that it has a thin envelope of nitrogen, methane and carbon dioxide.

As Pluto moves away from the Sun, this atmosphere gets so cold that it freezes onto the surface. And then as the dwarf planet warms again, the atmosphere evaporates again, forming a gas around it.

2. Pluto has 3 moons

You might have heard that Pluto has a large moon called Charon, but did you know that it actually has 3 moons in total. Charon is the large one, with a mass of roughly half that of Pluto’s.

Two additional moons, Nix and Hydra, were discovered by astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope on May 15, 2005. They were originally called S/2005 P1 and S/2005 P2, and then given their final names on June 21, 2006.

They took a long time to discover because they’re so tiny. Nix is only 46 km across, while Hydra is 61 km across.

3. Pluto hasn’t cleared out its orbit

Although Pluto orbits the Sun and it’s round, it’s not a planet. And that’s because Pluto hasn’t cleared out its orbit of material. This was the reason that the International Astronomical Union chose to demote it from planet to dwarf planet in 2006.

Just to give you an idea, if you added up the mass of all the other objects in Pluto’s orbit, Pluto’s mass would only be a tiny fraction of that total. In fact, it would only be 0.07 times as massive as everything else. For comparison, if you did the same thing with all the other material in the Earth’s orbit, our planet would be 1.5 million times as massive.

And that’s why Pluto’s not a planet.

4. Pluto is actually a binary system


You’d think that Charon orbits Pluto, but actually, Pluto and Charon orbit a common point in space. In the case of the Earth and the Moon, we actually orbit a common point, but that spot exists inside the Earth. In the case of Pluto and Charon, however, that common point is above the surface of Pluto.

Before Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet, astronomers were thinking of classifying it as a binary planet system. And then as a binary dwarf planet system. Perhaps that will help it recover some of its lost glory.

5. Pluto is named after a god, not a dog

If you think Pluto is named after a Disney character, you’re wrong. It’s actually named after the Roman god of the underworld. And Charon is the ferryman who carries souls across the river Styx.

When it was first discovered, Pluto was just given the name Planet X, but then the discoverers needed to come up with something better and more permanent. The name Pluto was suggested by Venetia Burney, an 11-year old school girl in Oxford, England. She thought it was a good name for such a cold, dark world. It was passed along to the discoverers and they liked it enough to make it official.

6. Pluto can be closer than Neptune

For most of its orbit, Pluto is more distant than Neptune, reaching out as far as 49 astronomical units (49 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun). But it has such an eccentric, elliptical orbit that it gets much closer, reaching a mere 29 AU. And during that time, it’s actually orbiting within the orbit of Neptune. The last time Pluto and Neptune made this switch was between February 7, 1979 and February 11, 1999. And give it another couple of hundred years and it’ll happen again.

7. Pluto is smaller than any planet, and even 7 moons

Pluto is small. How small? Astronomers recently calculated that its mass is 1.31 x 1022 kg (less than 0.24% the mass of Earth). And its diameter is only 2,390 km across.

At this point, it’s smaller than Mercury, and seven other moons including: Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, Io, Earth’s Moon, Europa, and Triton.

And now astronomers know that it’s even smaller than the recently discovered dwarf planet Eris. Here’s more information about how big Pluto is.

8. If it were closer to the Sun, Pluto would be a comet

Although this isn’t officially a reason for losing its planet status, Pluto wouldn’t last long if it got much closer to the Sun. It’s comprised of about half rock and half ice. This is a similar ratio to many rocky comets in the Solar System.

If you could somehow bring Pluto closer to the Sun, it would sprout a tail, becoming a spectacular comet. And over millions of years, the solar wind would blast away its icy structure, causing it to lose mass.

It’s lucky Pluto lives in such a cold, dark part of the Solar System.

9. Charon might have geysers

In the last few years, astronomers have discovered that several objects in the Solar System have ice geysers, including Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and maybe several others as well. But Pluto’s moon Charon could have this happening too.

Astronomers using the Gemini Observatory in Mauna Kea in Hawaii recently turned up evidence that geysers on Charon are spreading ammonia hydrates and water crystals across the surface of the moon.

Is this really happening? We’ll know soon, because… here’s the last Pluto fact.

10. There’s a spacecraft going to Pluto right now

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is making its way to Pluto right now. The spacecraft launched in 2005, and its expected to reach the dwarf planet in 2015. It will pass right through the system, imaging the surface of Pluto and its moons, and finally answering questions that have puzzled astronomers for nearly a hundred years.

 

Special thanks to www.universetoday.com

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