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DAR hears of suffering at Valley Forge

Staff Reports

The John C. Fremont Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution met at the home of Lori Bagwell in Carson City earlier this month. After a short meeting, Regent Janet Hawkins introduced Jim Higgins, a retiree from the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office in the Child’s Support Division, as the program speaker.

His topic was “Christmas at Valley Forge.”

According to Higgins, “In the winter of 1777-78, Washington and the main column of his troops of 2,800 men were at Valley Forge, 25 miles north of Philadelphia.

“1777 was an unusually severe winter. Icy roads were impassable. Heavy cannon and equipment could not be moved. Troops shivered in front of campfires, barefoot and coatless. Their daily rations sat nearby, consisting of 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar, 1/2 cup of flour and one pound of meat. For shelter, huts accommodating 18 men in close quarters had been built and stood behind them no heat nor blankets, as they had been thrown away during the summer’s intense heat.

“Because of the cold weather, 1,500 horses had died, creating a health problem and, if that weren’t enough, small pox ran rampant. Codfish swam in plentiful supply during fall and spring, but now the streams were icy and frozen. However, loyal colonial dames had driven a herd of oxen to the headquarters to be slaughtered for food, providing a meagre supply for the holidays.

“Word circulated throughout camp that the General’s wife would be spending Christmas with him at the local tavern, his headquarters. The soldiers waited anxiously for the arrival of a splendid coach pulled by a team of fine horses. They expected to see a richly dressed lady alight from her coach. To their amazement, Martha approached riding her own personal horse and dressed in simple winter attire. When she called the General “the old man,” she won the hearts and support of all the men.

“Early Christmas morning, Washington ordered three rounds of volley to be fired, commemorating the day and honoring the brave and courageous soldiers at Valley Forge. There would be no gifts.”

Regent Hawkins thanked Jim Higgins for his presentation and reminded the members how blessed they are to be living in a time of peace and plenty.

The meeting concluded with the announcement of next month’s program to be held Saturday, Jan. 17, at the home of Loralee Silk in Gardnerville. Debbie Kane will do a presentation of “The Indian Prayer Stick.” For details, call 265-1917.