Six Months as a Continental Soldier: Surviving and thriving during the winter of 1777-78
This series of seven lesson plans was developed by local history teacher and Teacher-Ranger-Teacher for Valley Forge NHP, Cam Hopkins. In this unit students will evaluate and understand the winter encampment site at Valley Forge (1777-78) by taking part in the life of a member of the Continental Army as it marched into Valley Forge, was challenged by multiple elements, and then potentially exited to continue the war for independence against the British.
Click on the learning module links below for the full lesson plans.
Download the Overview and Curriculum Standards Outline.
From the march in to Valley Forge to the march out -- Where does your story begin as a member of the Continental Army? How does your story end?
LM 1: The March In
Why did General George Washington choose Valley Forge as the site for the Army's winter encampment? This module focuses on examining the choices made by the leader of the Continental Army as he determined where to place his army in 1777.
LM 2: Washington's Orders
Build those huts…this module focuses on exploring what may have been one of the most important orders given by General Washington during the winter encampment.
LM 3: Breakfast…Lunch…Dinner?
The men have to eat…but how and what? This module focuses on introducing students to the hardships of the encampment, specifically related to the daily food needs of the soldiers.
LM 4: Keeping the Doctor Away
Approximately 2,000 men perished from disease and health-related issues during the winter of 1777-78. This module focuses on examining the critical issue of a soldier's health during the six month encampment.
LM 5: The Daily Routine
If the Continental soldiers were confined to Valley Forge for several months in the heart of the cold winter, what exactly did they do every day? This module focuses on the introducing students to the daily life of the Continental soldiers while they were encamped at Valley Forge.
LM 6: Successful "Sogering"
General von Steuben was the man in charge of turning Washington's Army into a more highly trained fighting force, but how did this all happen? This module focuses on taking students through the basic steps toward becoming a "professional" soldier in 1777. The term "sogering" comes from Private Joseph Plumb Martin's memoirs when he referred to "soldiering", or being a soldier.
LM 7: The March Out
The summer of 1778 was a joyous time for the army as it left the confines of Valley Forge, but what happened from here? This module focuses on showing students that the war for independence did not end at Valley Forge, but instead, continued for several more years…the question: if you survived Valley Forge what happened after?