Perhaps the most basic document generated during the War for Independence was the orderly book, a daily compilation of all military orders. In the days following Lexington and Concord, New England militia companies were ordered to begin maintaining orderly books. The reason for recording all orders was a disciplinary one: to establish the rules and make them clear to all. The orderly books were the controlling document of day-to-day life within the Continental Army.
At his headquarters, General Washington dictated his general orders for the day, which were taken down in the Headquarters’ Orderly Book. In turn these orders were dictated and copied down by regimental adjutants. Valley Forge National Historical Park is honored to be the repository of the Headquarters’ Orderly Book for the time period January 1 to April 15 of 1778. Documents such as this provide greater insight and understanding of how the Continental Army operated and how the soldiers lived and behaved, and must be preserved for future generations.