A Soldier's Life
The day-to-day lives of the Continental soldiers and followers who, along with General George Washington, encamped at Valley Forge in 1777-78 are central to educational programs offered at Valley Forge National Historical Park.
Designed to enhance third through eighth grade students' knowledge of the Revolutionary War, emphasis is placed on the Continental Army's pivotal struggle from downtrodden men to the formidable fighting force.
"Soldier Life" offers a 90-minute glimpse. Some children don practical 18th century soldier and camp follower garb, including tri-corner hats and buttoned uniforms, and utilize knapsacks, canteens, cartridge boxes, muskets and more. Classes march a quarter mile uphill from the Visitor Center to the furnished and unfurnished replica soldier huts where up to 12 men would have slept. Children can step inside and envision life in these cramped 12 ft. by 6 ft. quarters.
During the two-hour "Riding through History," students line up in formation outside the Visitor Center and march with costumed interpreters uphill to the Muhlenberg Brigade. Rangers demonstrate the utensils, clothing and supplies used daily by Washington's men. The children investigate the cabins and ride the bus with the rangers to Washington's original Headquarters, considered the pentagon of its day, where the general coordinated daily army operations and met with local and foreign dignitaries. Stops at other park monuments include Washington Memorial Chapel.
As an introduction, the short film "Valley Forge, A Winter Encampment" can be viewed every 30 minutes in the Park Theater. The museum exhibit "Determined to Persevere" inside the Visitor Center features an array of artifacts and details about life at the encampment.
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