• Log huts are coated in a fresh layer of snow

    Valley Forge

    National Historical Park Pennsylvania

There are park alerts in effect.
hide Alerts »
  • Upcoming Visitor Center Construction Projects

    Beginning April 22, improvements to the Visitor Center complex will be made and periodic closures will occur over a two-week period. Plan your visit with this information in mind. Further details and dates will be made available as possible. More »

Tench Tilghman

Tench Tilghman was from a well-known, influential Maryland family. He graduated from the College of Philadelphia in 1761, and then went into business in that city. His involvement in commerce and trade fostered anti-British sentiments and made him an early revolutionary. In 1776, he was elected as a lieutenant of a Philadelphia militia company. Later he was a captain in the Pennsylvania battalion of the Flying Camp.

Tilghman was present during the New York campaign of 1776, and in August he joined Washington’s staff as a volunteer. It is believed this was arranged due to Washington’s relationship with the Tilghman family before the war. As a volunteer aide-de-camp, however, Tench would not be paid or receive the rank of lieutenant colonel until 1780. Despite this lack of compensation, Tilghman became Washington’s longest-serving aide and remained with the Commander in Chief until almost the end of the war.

At Valley Forge, almost 30% of the correspondence that came out of Washington’s headquarters was written by Tilghman. In February, Tilghman was sent to Trenton, New Jersey to coordinate a massive foraging expedition for the army.

After the war, Tilghman returned to the mercantile business in Baltimore and frequently corresponded with Washington. Unfortunately, Tilghman died just three years after the war. Perhaps the inscription on his gravestone sums him up best:

Col. Tench Tilghman

Who died April 18, 1786 in the 42nd year of his age,

Very much lamented

He took an early and active part

In the great contest that secured

The Independence of the United States of America

He was an Aide-de-Camp to

His Excellency General Washington

Commander in Chief of the American Armies,

And was honored with his friendship and confidence,

And he was one of those whose merits were distinguished

And honorably rewarded by the Congress

But still more to his Praise

He was a good man.

Did You Know?

Volunteers repaint artillery on National Public Lands Day

The tradition of citizen stewardship began in the 1870s and continues every day, as park volunteers and partners participate in the ongoing work of preservation and interpretation. Each of them shares the vision of the Park as a meaningful place.