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
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
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
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
Amazing Facts About Parachuting and Skydiving
- DaVinci sketched the design for the first parachute in 1485
Arian Nicholas' jump in DaVinci replica chute
- Leslie Irvin made the first parachute jump and free-fall on April 19th, 1919
- On June 26, 2000–over 500 years later , Adrian Nicholas jumped an exact replica of it…and it worked!
- The replica chute was built under the watchful eye of Dr. Martin Kemp, a Oxford University DaVinci expert. It was made of wood, canvas and rope. Its weight was 187 pounds. it was jumped from a balloon at 10,000 feet. Nicholas road it to 7,000 feet when he cut away from it and used a traditional parachute for landing.
- Benjamin Franklin, an early proponent of airborne warfare, while serving in Paris, was so enthused by the success of hot air balloons in 1784 that he posed this interesting military question. “Where is the prince who can afford to cover his country with troops for its defense as that ten thousand men descend from the clouds might not in many places do an infinite deal of mischief?”. He was to describe what Airborne is all about….back in 1784.
- The first proposed plan to drop the U.S. 1st Infantry Division from a Handley-Page Bomber on the German controlled city of Metz was devised by a young officer on General Billy Mitchell’s staff named Lewis H. Brereton . He presented the plan to General Billy Mitchell who supported it and took it to General “Black Jack” Pershing. The time was October 1918 and the armistice was less then 3 weeks away. General Pershing shelved the idea. The 1st Infantry was to be the first to use Airborne!
|“Phantom” Airborne Divisions of WWII. These are official U.S. Army Airborne Divisions that existed on paper. They had personnel wear these patches around and in towns. The object was to convince the spies in England that the American had had more Airborne Divisions than they really had. It worked.
- The highest parachute jump was from the very edge of space itself, almost 102, 800 feet above the earth. This drop included a free fall lasting more than an incredible 4 1/2 minutes, during which Captain Kittinger reached a falling speed of 714 miles per hour before his parachute finally opened at 18,000 feet.
- The lowest parachute use was submerged 10-20 feet. A British navy flyer, LT. Bruce Mackfarlane had an engine failure on takeoff, leading to an immediate ditching off the carrier HMS Albion. Surprisingly, he survived the water impact and was coherent enough to clearly recall seeing the water close over the canopy, and begin to darken as the aircraft began to descend into the depths. His training instincts took over and he yanked the canopy jettison handle with his left hand, and immediately fired the seat with his right. At this point, his memory becomes understandably blurred, but he recalls tumbling free of the seat, still underwater. He had the presence of mind to release his chute and activate his life vest. (He surfaced aft of the carrier, almost directly under the ‘Angel’ rescue helo, which had moved into a hover over the disturbance in the water from his aircraft splash. The helo crew reported seeing his aircraft pass in two pieces along either side of the hull of the carrier. This indicates that if the pilot had delayed his attempt to escape a few seconds later, he would likely have been killed when the bow of the ship sliced his bird in half. LT Mackfarlane is not the only aviator to have such an experience.
- The lowest recorded combat jump is the German paratroopers (Fallschirmjager) when then jumping into Crete (WWII). The Fallschirmjager jumped from 250 feet.
- The lowest mass tactical jump was performed by the 1st Battalion (ABN), 509th Infantry executed the lowest altitude mass parachute jump in history exiting the aircraft a 143 feet in England during June 1942 rehearsals.
- The longest combat airborne operation: 1-509th spearheaded the Allied invasion of North Africa. The longest Airborne operation occurred 8 November 1942. After a C-47 flight of over 1600 miles from England, the battalion seized Tafarquay Airport in Oran.
- The most jumps made by one person in a single 24 hour period was by Michael Zang. Mr. Zang broke the world record on 20 May 2001 at 1705 hours (5.:05pm) by completing 500 jumps in 24 hours. That is 21 jumps per hour or one jump every 2:45 minutes from 2100 feet. Mike did this event to get money for children in his program called JUMP4KIDS.
- To show that anyone from any age can sky dive, a 92 year old man sporting artificial knees did a solo jump in Cleveland, Ohio. He weighed a mere 105 pounds, had fake knees, and a hearing aid. He leaped at 3,500 feet. The oldest tandem skydiving jumper was a 100 year old in October 1999. A woman at the age of 90 wanted to dive for her birthday to prove that age is just a number. She jumped from 12,000 feet.
- The largest formation of jumpers took place on 6 February 2004, Takhli, Thailand 357-way – was completed on the 7th attempt of jumping and flew for exactly 6 seconds.
- Four-year-old skydiver: in a leap into the record books, four-year-old Toni Stadler became the youngest person to skydive! The tandem parachute jump took place at the Cape Parachute Club, 25 miles north of Cape Town, South Africa, on Oct. 27, just five days before Toni’s fifth birthday. The youngster was strapped to jumpmaster Paul Lutge’s chest as they leaped out of their single-engine plane 10,000 feet above the earth, freefalling for half a minute before opening the parachute.
- You don’t have to worry about the free fall creating that “heart attack-inducing” roller coaster drop feeling. The feeling is actually one similar to floating and the air resistance creates a degree of support. Free falling is like a human being taking flight. The air flow is constant and allows for aerial maneuvers that are a lot of fun.
- Approximately 2 million parachute jumps occur annually. The average number of fatalities is 35 and that is less than 1% of the jumps that take place.
- There is really no age requirement, but it is suggested that individuals be around the age of 18. It is also important that the sky diver is in reasonably good health.
- The jolt by the parachute is not painful and you can use the parachute controls to steer it to your desired landing spot. That way, if you somehow get off course, you can put yourself back on course.
- The landing is a soft landing. You gently land on your feet and step like you’re stepping off of a curb.
- It takes about 10 to 15 jumps before a student can jump without their instructor. Some may require more jumps than that before they are secure enough to take on the sky solo.