The Valley Forge Winter: Civilians and Soldiers in War

Author:   Wayne Bodle (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
Publisher:   Pennsylvania State University Press
Edition:   New edition
ISBN:  

9780271025261


Pages:   352
Publication Date:   15 October 2002
Format:   Paperback
Availability:   Out of stock   Availability explained
The supplier is temporarily out of stock of this item. It will be ordered for you on backorder and shipped when it becomes available.

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The Valley Forge Winter: Civilians and Soldiers in War


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Overview

2003 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Of the many dramatic episodes of the American Revolution, perhaps none is more steeped in legend than the Valley Forge winter. Paintings show Continentals huddled around campfires and Washington kneeling in the frozen woods, praying for his army's deliverance. To this day schoolchildren are taught that Valley Forge was the turning point of the Revolution -the event that transformed a ragged group of soldiers into a fighting army. But was Valley Forge really the crucible of victory it has come to represent in American history? Now, two hundred and twenty-five years later, Wayne Bodle has written the first comprehensive history of the winter encampment of 1777-78. The traditional account portrays Valley Forge in the 1770s as a desolate wilderness far removed from civilian society. Washington's army was forced to endure one of the coldest winters in memory with inadequate food and supplies, despite appeals to the Continental Congress. When the mild weather of spring finally arrived, the Prussian baron Friedrich von Steuben drilled the demoralized soldiers into a first-rate army that would go on to stunning victories at Monmouth and, eventually, at Yorktown. Bodle presents a very different picture of Valley Forge-one that revises both popular and scholarly perceptions. Far from being set in a wilderness, the Continental Army's quarters were deliberately located in a settled area. And although there was a provisions crisis, Washington overstated the case in order to secure additional support. (A shrewd man, Washington mostly succeeded at keeping his army supplied with food, clothing, and munitions. Farmers from the interior provided food that ensured that the army didn't starve.) As for Steuben's role in training the soldiers, Bodle argues that it was not the decisive factor others have seen in the army's later victories. The freshness of Bodle's approach is that he offers a complete picture of events both inside and outside the camp boundaries. We see what happens when two armies descend on a diverse and divided community. Anything but stoically passive, the Continentals were effective agents on their own behalf and were actively engaged with their civilian hosts and British foes. The Valley Forge Winter is an example of the new military history at its best-a history that puts war back into its social context.

Full Product Details

Author:   Wayne Bodle (Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
Publisher:   Pennsylvania State University Press
Imprint:   Pennsylvania State University Press
Edition:   New edition
Dimensions:   Width: 14.60cm , Height: 2.40cm , Length: 23.50cm
Weight:   0.522kg
ISBN:  

9780271025261


ISBN 10:   0271025263
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   15 October 2002
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Professional & Vocational
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Availability:   Out of stock   Availability explained
The supplier is temporarily out of stock of this item. It will be ordered for you on backorder and shipped when it becomes available.

Table of Contents

Contents Introduction: The Myth and the Map 1. The Seat of War 2. The Campaign for Pennsylvania 3. Doing What We Can 4. Learning to Live With War 5. Starve, Dissolve, or Disperse 6. Trublesum Times for Us All, but Worse for the Solders 7. The Stone Which the Builders Have Rejected 8. The Lord's Time to Work 9. The Chapter of Experiments 10. As the Fine Season Approaches 11. The Seated War Notes Bibliography Index

Reviews

An excellent book by a scholar who has written extensively on the Middle Colonies and served for some years on the staff of the National Park Service at Valley Forge.... Bodle rescues Washington and his comrades-in-arms by looking at Valley Forge in the context of a nine-month campaign that began with British General Sir William Howe's invasion of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1777 and American reversals at Brandywine and Germantown.... As Wayne Bodie says, Valley Forge may offer fewer morality lessons for schoolchildren than previously believed, but it 'forged a temporal - and especially a spatial - template for the rest of the war in the north.' - Don Higginbotham, William and Mary Quarterly; [The Valley Forge Winter] is not a retelling of the quintessential American morality play of military virtue, stoicism, self-sacrifice, and eventual moral and battlefield triumph set against the backdrop of previous defeats and civilian neglect. Rather, it is a model study of war and society that argues convincingly for the Continental Army's service 'as a partial proxy for faltering civilian political legitimacy' in Revolutionary Pennsylvania.... This book is a welcome contribution that should be considered seriously by scholars and interested readers. - Ricardo A. Herrera, The Journal of Military History


Author Information

Wayne Bodle is Assistant Professor of History at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. His articles have appeared in numerous journals, including Pennsylvania History, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, and The William and Mary Quarterly.

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