Shelter at Valley Forge

illustration, candle, lantern, virtual march-in
Virtual March-In programming, December 14-19, 2020.

NPS Image / Gregory Purifoy

Welcome to Virtual March-In!

We are commemorating the 243rd anniversary of the arrival of the weary Continental Army to Valley Forge with a whole week of featured activities and videos like this one!

DIY Housing

Have you ever used duct tape or bubble gum to put something together? At Valley Forge, soldiers didn't have either of those items, but necessity was often the mother of invention during the American Revolution—and sometimes it did not always go according to plan…

General George Washington knew that at Valley Forge, the Continental Army would have difficulty roofing their quarters with proper boards. So, prior to their arrival, he offered “one hundred dollars to any officer or soldier” who developed the best roofing solution for their huts. Much to Washington’s dismay, however, many soldiers began using canvas cut from their tents. Tents they needed for the next campaign season. Ill-supplied soldiers had to think about their immediate needs, but Washington had to consider the army’s long-term strategy. He had to act quickly to ensure that commanders sent the remaining tents to the Quartermaster General for cleaning and storage. Once soldiers finished building their quarters, of course.

To learn more about shelter at the Valley Forge encampment, watch the video below!

“General Orders, 18 December 1777,” Founders Online, National Archives, [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 12, 26 October 177725 December 1777, ed. Frank E. Grizzard, Jr. and David R. Hoth. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2002, pp. 626–628.]

“General Orders, 6 January 1778,” Founders Online, National Archives, [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Revolutionary War Series, vol. 13, 26 December 177728 February 1778, ed. Edward G. Lengel. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2003, pp. 158–160.]

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4 minutes, 32 seconds

Although the Continental Army benefitted from Valley Forge’s natural defenses, a lack of housing meant that soldiers had to construct their own. Learn about the different types of shelter present in the encampment, and who would have used them.

Click to watch on YouTube!


Last updated: April 20, 2021

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