When We ‘Winter’ At Valley Forge

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TheDiscipleMD

Several years ago my brother, Father, and I walked around the sacred grounds of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. A blessing you get by visiting such sites is gaining perspective of historical events. In the case of Valley Forge I learned that not only did the Continental Army suffer through the winter of 1778-1779 with disease, famine, and cold, but that they came out of that horrible experience a better army. Not only had the army bonded by shared suffering but for the first time they were trained in the art of war. Carrying a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin, Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, no longer in the Prussian Army, offered his services to General Washington who had chosen Valley Forge as winter quarters.

“Washington saw great promise in the Prussian and almost immediately assigned him the duties of Acting Inspector General with the task of developing and carrying out an effective training program. He was a drill instructor, he was full of energy, and he taught the soldiers how to fire their guns faster.
Von Steuben shocked many American officers by breaking tradition to work directly with the men. One officer wrote of Von Steuben’s “peculiar grace” as he took “under his direction a squad of men in the capacity of drill sergeant.” From dawn to dusk his familiar voice was heard in camp above the sounds of marching men and shouted commands. Soon companies, regiments, and then brigades moved smartly from line to column, column to line; loaded muskets with precision; and drove imaginary redcoats from the field by skillful charges with the bayonet…Washington, with Von Steuben’s aid, had made an army of the Continental troops.” (Wikipedia).

The training and preparation of the army was invaluable and became a turning point in the war for independence. Prior to this I had known of the great suffering that the army had endured at Valley Forge but it was news to me of the invaluable services given by Baron Von Steuben in training the army.

I mention the above account because we often know of “miracles” that occur in history, like the independence of our country, but we seldom dig deeper into the background of the miracle. When we do so, we usually find that, while God does work miracles in the founding of countries, or the lives of individuals, it is often after great sacrifice, suffering, and effort by the recipients. In this case, The Continental Army suffered much, yet they didn’t just suffer at Valley Forge; they worked through and overcame their pain! They did it by having faith in their leaders, and following their inspired leadership. In the end they were victorious, but only after years of faith and devotion. For many however, death came first. They understood that God requires all that we have, before He will intervene. I am sure that prayers were plentiful from both the leaders and the enlisted men.

As we celebrate our independence this week, let us remember that miracles were wrought by the hand of the Lord in bringing forth our Nation. However, never let us forget that much sacrifice and blood was given in order to bring that miracle to pass. On an individual basis, each of us will symbolically spend winters holed up in a “Valley Forge.” When that cold winter comes upon us may we learn from those men who endured and came out of their dark days, better trained and prepared for the long war ahead! May we too come out stronger and better prepared for our lives, when we find ourselves ‘wintering’ at Valley Forge.

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