Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 2: Revolution
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A Soldier at Valley Forge
Segment 2
General Washington surveys his battle plan. Valley Forge, 1778

The war lasted nearly nine years. The Americans wouldn't quit, but it didn't seem as if they had a chance. Great Britain had the most feared army in the world.

In 1777 the British captured America's capital city, Philadelphia, and the congress had to flee. Eighteen miles from the city, Washington marched his army to a place called Valley Forge See It Now - Valley Forge. It was December and the ground was covered with snow. Doctor Albigence Waldo of Connecticut, a surgeon at Valley Forge, wrote in his diary about the Continental army's misery. "Dec 12th We are ordered to march over the river—it snows—I'm sick—eat nothing—no whiskey—no baggage—Lord—Lord—Lord."

Picture 2,000 dirt-floored, drafty wooden huts lined up in streets like a village, and you have an idea of Valley Forge. If you look at the ground, you may see blood. Some of the soldiers have no shoes See It Now - A Soldier at Valley Forge; their toes freeze and their feet leave bloody tracks. Dr. Waldo recorded the mounting suffering: Hear It Now  - Doctor Waldo "Dec 14th Poor food—hard lodging—cold weather—fatigue—nasty clothes—nasty cookery—vomit half my time.... I can't endure it.... Here comes a bowl of beef soup—full of burnt leaves and dirt Check The Source - The Diary of Doctor Waldo."

No battles are fought at Valley Forge. But something astounding happens there. The men who make it through that winter become a team: strong, confident, and proud of themselves, their country, and their leader, General Washington, who has shared his men's hardships.

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Did You Know?
Most of the soldiers the Americans fought were not even British. They were German—called Hessians—because many of them came from Hesse, a region of Germany. Remember, Europe had been fighting wars for centuries. Large numbers of men in Europe spent their whole lives fighting. That was the only profession they knew, and they didn't much care who they were fighting. Some men were professional soldiers, but not for a specific army, more "for hire." This kind of soldier is called a mercenary.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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