On This Day, Dec 19, 1777 – Gerorge Washington Sets Up Camp at Valley Forge


1777 – General George Washington led his army of about 11,000 men to Valley Forge, PA, to camp for the winter.

For his winter encampment, Washington selected Valley Forge on the Schuylkill River approximately 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia. With its high ground and position near the river, Valley Forge was easily defensible, but still close enough to the city for Washington to maintain pressure on the British. Despite the defeats of the fall, the 12,000 men of the Continental Army were in good spirits when they marched into Valley Forge on December 19, 1777.

Under the direction of the army’s engineers, the men began constructing over 2,000 log huts laid out along military streets. In addition, defensive trenches and five redoubts were built to protect the encampment. To facilitate re-supply of the army, a bridge was erected over the Schuylkill.

These 100 men were in turn sent out to other units to repeat the process and so on until the entire army was trained. In addition, von Steuben introduced a system of progressive training for recruits which educated them in the basics of soldiering.

Though the winter at Valley Forge had been trying for both the men and the leadership, the Continental Army emerged as a stronger fighting force. Washington, having survived various intrigues, such as the Conway Cabal, to remove him from command, cemented himself as the army’s military and spiritual leader, while the men, stiffened by von Steuben, were superior soldiers to those that had arrived in December 1777.

1154 – Henry II became King of England.

1562 – The Battle of Dreux was fought between the Huguenots and the Catholics, beginning the French Wars of Religion.

1732 – Benjamin Franklin began publishing “Poor Richard’s Almanac.”

1776 – Thomas Paine published his first “American Crisis” essay.

1842Hawaii‘s independence was recognized by the U.S.


1843 – Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” was first published in England.

1871 – Corrugated paper was patented by Albert L. Jones.

1903 – The Williamsburg Bridge opened in New York City. It opened as the largest suspension bridge on Earth and remained the largest until 1924. It was also the first major suspension bridge to use steel towers to support the main cable.

1917 – The first games of the new National Hockey League (NHL) were played. Five teams made up the league: Toronto Arenas, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, the Montreal Canadiens and the Montreal Wanderers.

1918 – Robert Ripley began his “Believe It or Not” column in “The New York Globe“.

1932 – The British Broadcasting Corp. began transmitting overseas with its “Empire Service” to Australia.

1972Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific, ending the Apollo program of manned lunar landings.

1978 – Indira Gandhi was expelled from the Lok Sabha for contempt and imprisoned.

1984 – Britain and China signed an accord returning Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty on July 1, 1997.

1985 – ABC Sports announced that it was severing ties with Howard Cosell and released ‘The Mouth’ from all TV commitments. Cosell continued on ABC Radio for another five years.

1986 – The Soviet Union announced it had freed dissident Andrei Sakharov from internal exile, and pardoned his wife, Yelena Bonner.

1986 – Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh was appointed to investigate the Iran-Contra issue.

1989U.S. troops invaded Panama to overthrow the regime of General Noriega.

1990 – Bo Jackson (Los Angeles Raiders) became the first athlete to be chosen for All Star Games in two sports.

1996 – The school board of Oakland, CA, voted to recognize Black English, also known as “ebonics.” The board later reversed its stance.

1998President Bill Clinton was impeached on two charges of perjury and obstruction of justice by the U.S. House of Representatives.

2008 – President George W. Bush signed a $17.4 billion rescue package of loans for ailing auto makers General Motors and Chrysler.


Source: Militaryhistory.about.com; On-This-Day.com