I have been fighting a bout of the flu, so no hiking for a while. So yesterday I bundled up and spent a little time at Valley Forge Historical Park.
Hopefully everyone remembers their American history. But it might be a good thing to occasionally brush up on our knowledge. This trip prompted me to do just this. This was the first time I have ever visited Valley Forge.
Once I got there it just didn’t seem right to to take pictures or go walk on the cement walkways. The right thing to do seemed to just try and absorb what this place stands for. To think about the rag-tag army that struggled to get here, many without shoes who trudged in the snow with bloody feet to this place. To think about the army that battled to just stay alive; fighting their immediate enemy the weather — and knowing that defeating winter would lead to more battles against the British Army. To think about the families, women and children who came here in hopes of nursing our soldiers back to life. To think about the approximately 20% who did not make it through that winter. To think about the newly disciplined and competent army that left this place when winter ended. To think about how much we owe those who suffered and persevered in Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78. I found Valley Forge to be a very humbling hallowed place.
Maybe Armitt Brown said it best.
Oration of Henry Armitt Brown : on the one hundredth anniversary of the evacuation of Valley Forge, June 19, 1878
It is an honor to be here to-day. It is a privilege to behold this anniversary. This unusual spectacle, these solemn services, these flags and decorations, this tuneful choir, this mili- tary array, this distinguished company, this multitude darkening all the hill-side, proclaim the general interest and attest its magnitude. And it is proper to commemorate this time. One hundred years ago this country was the scene of extraordinary events and very honorable actions. We feel the influence of them in our institutions and our daily lives, and it is both nat- ural and right for us to seek, by some means, to mark their hundredth anniversaries. Those moments are passing quickly. Lexington, Bunker Hill, Germantown, Saratoga, have gone by already. Monmouth, Stony Point, Eutaw, and Yorktown are close at hand. It is eminently fit that we should gather here. I cannot add to what has already been said about this place. The deeds which have made it famous have passed into history. The page on which they are recorded is written. We can neither add to it nor take away. The heroic dead who suffered here are far beyond our reach. No human eulogy can make their glory greater, no failure to do them justice make it less. Theirs is a perfect fame, â€” safe, certain, and complete. Their trials here secured the happiness of a continent ; their labors have borne fruit in the free institutions of a powerful nation; their examples give hope to every race and clime; their names live on the lips of a grateful people; their memory is cherished in their children's hearts, and shall endure forever. It is not' for their sakes, then, but for our own, that we have assembled here to-day. This anniversary, if I understand it right, has i purpose of its own. It is duty that has brought us here. The spirit appropriate to this hour is one of humility rather than of pride, of reverence rather than of exultation. We come, it is true, the representatives of forty millions of free men by ways our fathers never dreamed of, from religions of which they never heard. We come in the midst of plenty, under a sky of peace, power in our right hand and the keys of knowledge in our left. But we are here to learn rather than to teach ; to worship, not to glorify. We come to contemplate the sources of our country's greatness; to commune with the honored past; to remind ourselves and show our children that joy can come out of sorrow, happiness out of suffering, light out of darkness, life out of death. Such is the meaning of this anniversary. I cannot do it justice. Would that there could come to some one in this multitude a tongue of fire, â€” an inspiration born of the time itself, that, standing in this place and speaking with the voice of olden time, he might tell us in fitting language of our fathers! But it cannot be. Not even now. Not even here. Perhaps we do not need it. Some of us bear their blood, and all alike enjoy the happiness their valor and endurance won. And if my voice be feeble, we have but to look around. The hills that saw them suffer look down on us ; the ground that thrilled beneath their feet we tread to-day ; their unmarked graves still lie in yonder field ; the breastworks which they built to shelter them surround us here I Dumb witnesses of the heroic past, ye need no tongues \ Face to face with you we see it all. This soft breeze changes to an icy blast ; these trees drop the glory of the summer, and the earth beneath our feet is wrapped in snow. Beside us is a village of log huts; along that ridge smoulder the fires of a camp. The sun has sunk, the stars crlitter in the inky sky, the camp is hushed, the fires are out, the night is still. All are in slumber save when a lamp glimmers in a cottage window, and a passing shadow shows a tall figure pacing to and fro. The cold silence is unbroken, save when on yonder ramparts, crunching the crisp snow with wounded feet, a ragged sentinel keeps watch for liberty! The close of 1777 marked the gloomiest period of the Revo- lution. The early enthusiasm of the struggle had passed away. The doubts which the first excitements banished had returned. The novelty of war had gone, and its terrors become awfully familiar. Fire and sword had devastated some of the best parts of the country, its cities were ruined, its fields laid waste, its resources drained, its best blood poured out in sacrifice. The strength now had become one of endurance, and while liberty and independence seemed as far off as ever, men began to appreciate the tremendous cost at which they were to be pur- chased. The capture of Burgoyne had, after all, been only a temporary check to a powerful and still unexhausted enemy. Nor was its effect on the Americans themselves wholly benefi- cial. It had caused the North to relax, in a great measure, its activity and vigilance, and, combined with the immunity from invasions which the South had enjoyed, to lull asleep two- thirds of the continent. While a few hundred ill-armed, half- clad Americans guarded the Highlands of the Hudson, a well- equipped garrison, several thousand strong, lived in luxury in the city of New York. The British fleet watched with the eyes of Argus the rebel coast. Rhode Island lay undisputed in their hands; Georgia, Virginia, and the Carolinas were open to their invasion, and as incapable of defence as Maryland had been ; when they landed in the Chesapeake. Drawn upon for the -) army, the sparse population could not half till the soil, and the savings of laborious years had all been spent. While the mis- erable paper currency which Congress, with a fatal folly never to be absent from the counsels of men, continued to issue and call money, obeyed natural rather than artificial laws, and fell four hundred per cent., coin flowed to Philadelphia and New York, and in spite of military orders and civil edicts, the scanty produce of the country followed it. Nor could the threatened penalty of death restrain the evil. Want began to be widely felt, and the frequent proclamations of the British, accompanied with Tory intrigue and abundant gold, to have effect. To some, even of the wisest, the case was desperate. Even the elements seemed to combine against the cause. A deluge prevented a battle at the Warren Tavern, a fog robbed Washington of vie- tory at Germantown, and at last, while the fate of America hung on the courage, the fortitude, and the patriotism of eleven thousand half-clothed, half-armed, hungry Continentals, who, discomforted but not discouraged, beaten but not disheartened, suffering but steadfast still, lay on their firelocks on the frozen ridges of Whitemarsh, a British army nineteen thousand five hundred strong, of veteran troops, perfectly equipped, freshly recruited from Europe and flushed with recent victory, marched into winter-quarters in the chief city of the nation. THE OCCUPATION OF PHILADELPHIA. Philadelphia surely had never seen such gloomy days as those which preceded the entry of the British. On the 24th of August the American army marched through the length of Front Street ; on the 25th the British landed at the head of Elk. Days of quiet anxiety ensued. On the nth of Sep- tember, as Tom Paine was writing a letter to Dr. Franklin, the sound of cannon in the southwest interrupted him. From morning until late in the afternoon people in the streets listened to the dull sound like distant thunder. About six o'clock it died away, and the straining ear could catch nothing but the soughing of the wind. With what anxiety men waited, â€” with what suspense ! The sun sank in the west, and the shadows crept over the little city. It was the universal hour for the evening meal, but who could go home to eat? Men gathered about the State House to talk, to conjecture, to con- sult together, and the women whispered in little groups at the doorsteps and craned their necks out of the darkened windows to look nervously up and down the street. About eight o'clock there was a little tumult near the Coffee House. The story spread that Washington had gained a victory, and a few lads set up a cheer. But it was not traced to good authority, and disappointment followed. By nine in the evening the suspense was painful. Suddenly, far up Chestnut Street was heard the clatter of horses' feet. Some one was galloping hard. Down Chestnut, like an arrow, came at full speed a single horseman. He had ridden fast and his horse was splashed with foam. Hearts beat quickly as he dashed by; past Sixth Street, past the State House, past Fifth, and round the corner into Fourth. The crowd followed, and instantly packed around him as he drew rein at the Indian Queen. He threw a glance at the earnest faces that were turned toward his and spoke: "A battle has been fought at' the Birmingham Meeting-house, on the Brandywine; the army has been beaten; the French Marquis Lafayette shot through the leg. His Excellency has fallen back to Chester ; the road below is full of stragglers." And then the crowd scattered, each one to his home, but not to sleep. A few days followed full of contradictory stories. The armies are manoeuvring on the Lancaster pike. Surely Washington will fight another battle. And then the news came and spread like lightning, â€” Wayne has been surprised, and his brigade massacred at the Paoli, and the enemy are in full march for Philadelphia; the Whigs are leaving by hundreds; the authori- ties are going; the Congress have gone; the British have arrived at Germantown. Who can forget the day that followed? A sense of something dreadful about to happen hangs over the town. A third of the houses are shut and empty. Shops are unopened, and busy rumor flies about the streets. Early in the morning the sidewalks are filled with a quiet, anxious crowd. The women watch behind bowed windows with half- curious, half-frightened looks. The men, solemn and subdued, whisper in groups, " Will they come to-day?" "Are they here already?" "Will they treat us like a conquered people?" It was inevitable since the hot-bloods would have war. Some- times the Tory can be detected by an exultant look, but the general sentiment is gloomy. The morning drags along. By ten o'clock Second Street, from Callowhill to Chestnut, is filled with old men and boys. There is hardly a young man to be seen. About eleven is heard the sound of approaching cavalry, and a squadron of dragoons comes galloping down the street, scattering the boys right and left. The crowd parts to let them by and melts together again. In a few minutes far up the street there is the faint sound of martial music and something mov- ing that glitters in the sunlight. The crowd thickens and is full of hushed expectation. Presently one can see a red mass swaying to and fro. It becomes more and more distinct. Louder grows the music and the tramp of marching men as waves of scarlet, tipped with steel, come moving down the street. They are now but a square off, â€” their bayonets glancing in perfect line and steadily advancing to the music of " God Save the King." These are the famous grenadiers. Their pointed caps of red. fronted with silver, their white leather leggings and short scar- let coats, trimmed with blue, make a magnificent display. They are perfectly equipped, and look well fed and hearty. Behind them are more cavalry. No, these must be officers. The first one is splendidly mounted and wears the uniform of a general. He is a stout man, with gray hair and a pleasant countenance, in spite of the squint of an eye which disfigures it. A whisper goes through the bystanders, " It is Lord Cornwallis himself." A brilliant staff in various uniforms follows him and five men in civilian's dress. A glance of recognition follows these last like a wave along the street, for they are Joseph Galloway, Enoch Story, Tench Coxe, and the two Aliens, â€” father and son, â€” Tories, who have only dared to return home behind British bayonets. Long lines of red coats follow till the Fourth, the Fortieth, and the Fifty-fifth Regiments have passed by. But who are these in dark blue that come behind the grenadiers? Breeches of yellow leather, leggings of black, and tall, pointed hats of brass complete their uniform. They wear moustaches, and have a fierce foreign look, and their unfamiliar music seems to a child in that crowd to cry " Plunder ! plunder! plunder!" as it times their rapid march. These are the Hessian mer- cenaries whom Washington surprised and thrashed so well at Christmas in '76. And now grenadiers and yagers, horse, foot, and artillery that rumbles along making the windows rattle, have all passed by. The Fifteenth Regiment is drawn up on High Street, near Fifth ; the Forty-second Highlanders in Chestnut below Third ; and the artillery is parked in the State House yard. All the afternoon the streets are full, â€” wagons with luggage lumbering along, officers in scarlet riding to and fro, aides and orderlies seeking quarters for their differ- ent officers. Yonder swarthy, haughty-looking man dismount- ing at Norris's door is my Lord Rawdon. Lord Cornwallis is quartered at Peter Reeves's in Second, near Spruce, and Knyp- hausen at Henry Lisle's, nearer to Dock Street, on the east. The younger officers are well bestowed, for Dr. Franklin's house has been taken by a certain clever Captain Andre. The time for the evening parade comes, and the well-equipped regi- ments are drawn up in line, while slowly to the strains of mar- tial music the sun sinks in autumnal splendor in the west. The streets are soon in shadow, but still noisy with the tramping of soldiers and the clatter of arms. In High Street, and on the commons, fires are lit for the troops to do their cooking, and the noises of the camp mingle with the city's hum. Most of the houses are shut, but here and there one stands wide open, while brilliantly dressed officers lounge at the windows or pass and repass in the doorway. The sound of laughter and music is heard, and the brightly lit windows of the London Coffee House and the Indian Queen tell of the parties that are cele- brating there the event they think so glorious, and thus, amid sounds of revelry, the night falls on the Quaker City. In spite of Trenton, and Princeton, and Brandywine; in spite of the wisdom of Congress, and the courage and skill of the Com- mander-in-Chief; in spite of the bravery and fortitude of the Continental army, the forces of the king are in the Rebel capital, and the " all's well" of hostile sentinels keeping guard by her northern border passes unchallenged from the Schuyl- kill to the Delaware. What matters it to Sir William Howe and his victorious army if rebels be starving and their ragged currency be almost worth- less? Here is gold and plenty of good cheer. What whether they threaten to attack the British lines or disperse through the impoverished country in search of food ? The ten redoubts that stretch from Fairmount to Cohocksink Creek are stout and strongly manned, the river is open, and supplies and re- inforcements are on the way from England. What if the earth be wrinkled with frost? The houses of Philadelphia are snug and warm. What if the rigorous winter has begun and snow be whitening the hills? Here are mirth and music, and dancing and wine, and women and play, and the pageants of a riotous capital ! And so with feasting and with revelry let the winter wear away ! ANOTHER PICTURE. The wind is cold and piercing on the old Gulf road, and the snow-flakes have begun to fall. Who is this that toils up yon- der hill, his footsteps stained with blood? "His bare feet peep through his worn-out shoes, his legs nearly naked from the tat- tered remains of an only pair of stockings, his breeches not enough to cover his nakedness, his shirt hanging in strings, his hair dishevelled, his face wan and thin, his look hungry, his whole appearance that of a man forsaken and neglected." On his shoulder he carries a rusty gun, and the hand that grasps the stock is blue with cold. His comrade is no better off, nor he who follows, for both are barefoot, and the ruts of the rough country road are deep and frozen hard. A fourth comes into view, and still another. A dozen are in sight. Twenty have reached the ridge, and there are more to come. See them as they mount the hill that slopes eastward into the great valley. A thousand are in sight, but they are but the vanguard of the motley company that winds down the road until it is lost in the cloud of snow-flakes that have hidden the Gulf hills. Yonder are horsemen in tattered uniforms, and behind them cannon lumbering slowly over the frozen road, half dragged, half pushed by men. They who appear to be in authority have coats of every make and color. Here is one in a faded blue, faced with buckskin that has once been buff; there is another on a tall, gaunt horse, wrapped in a sort of dressing-gown made of an old blanket or woollen bed-cover. A few of the men wear long linen hunting-shirts reaching to the knee, but of the rest no two are dressed alike, â€” not half have shirts, a third are barefoot, many are in rags. Nor are their arms the same. Cow-horns and tin boxes they carry for want of pouches. A few have swords, fewer still bayonets. Muskets, carbines, fowling-pieces, and rifles are to be seen to- gether side by side. Are these soldiers that huddle together and bow their heads as they face the biting wind ? Is this an army that comes straggling through the valley in the blinding snow ? No mar- tial music leads them in triumph into a captured capital ; no city full of good cheer and warm and comfortable homes awaits their coming ; no sound keeps time to their weary steps save the icy wind rattling the leafless branches and the dull tread of their weary feet on the frozen ground. In yonder forest must they find their shelter, and on the northern slope of these inhos- pitable hills their place of refuge. Perils shall soon assault them more threatening than any they encountered under the windows of Chew's house or by the banks of Brandywine. Trials that rarely have failed to break the fortitude of men await them here. False friends shall endeavor to undermine their virtue and secret enemies to shake their faith ; the Congress whom they serve shall prove helpless to protect them, and their country herself seem unmindful of their sufferings; cold shall share their habitations and hunger enter in and be their constant guest ; disease shall infest their huts by day and famine stand guard with them through the night; frost shall lock their camp with icy fetters and the snows cover it as with a garment ; the storms of winter shall be pitiless, â€” but all in vain. Danger shall not frighten nor temptation have power to seduce them. Doubt shall not shake their love of country nor suffering overcome their fortitude. The powers of evil shall not prevail against them, for they are the Continental Army, and these are the hills of Valley Forge ! It is not easy to-day to imagine this country as it appeared a century ago. Yonder city, which now contains one-fourth as many inhabitants as were found in those days between Maine and Georgia, was a town of but thirty thousand men, and at the same time the chief city of the continent. The richness of the soil around it had early attracted settlers, and the farmers of the great valley had begun to make that country the garden which it is to-day ; but from the top of this hill one could still behold the wilderness under cover of which, but twenty years before, the Indian had spread havoc through the back settle- ments on the Lehigh and the Susquehanna. The most important place between the latter river and the site of Fort Pitt, " at the junction of the Ohio," was the frontier village of York, where Congress had taken refuge. The single road which connected Philadelphia with the western country had been cut through the forest to Harris's Block-House but forty years before. It was half a century only since its iron ore had led to the settlement of Lancaster, and little more than a quarter since a single house had marked the site of Reading. The ruins of Colonel Bull's plantation â€” burned by the British on their march â€” lay in solitude on the hills which are covered to-day with the roofs and spires of Norristown, and where yonder cloud hangs over the furnaces and foundries of Phcenixville a man named Gordon, living in a cave, gave his name to a crossing of the river. Nor was this spot itself the same. A few small houses clustered about Potts's Forge, where the creek tumbled into the Schuyl- kill, and two or three near the river-bank marked the beginning of a little farm. The axe had cleared much of the bottom- lands and fertile fields of the great valley, but these hills were still wrapped in forest that covered their sides far as the eye could reach. The roads that ascended their ridge on the south and east plunged into densest woods as they climbed the hill and met beneath its shadow at the same spot where to-day a school-house stands in the midst of smiling fields. It is no wonder that Baron de Kalb, as he gazed on the forest of oak and chestnut that covered the sides and summit of Mount Joy, should have described the place bitterly as " a wilderness." THE ENCAMPMENT. But nevertheless it was well chosen. There was no town that would answer. Wilmington and Trenton would have afforded shelter, but in the one the army would have been use- less, and in the other in constant danger. Reading and Lan- caster were so distant that the choice of either would have left a large district open to the enemy, and both, in which were valuable stores, could better be covered by an army here. Equally distant with Philadelphia from the fords of Brandy- wine and the ferry into Jersey, the army could move to either point as rapidly as the British themselves, and while distant enough from the city to be safe from surprise or sudden attack itself, it could protect the country that lay between and at the same time be a constant menace to the capital. Strategically, then, the General could not have chosen better. And the place was well adapted for the purpose. The Schuylkill, flowing from the Blue Hills, bent here toward the eastward. Its current was rapid and its banks precipitous. The Valley Creek, cutting its way through a deep defile at right angles to the river, formed a natural boundary on the west. The hill called Mount Joy, at the entrance of that defile, threw out a spur which, running parallel to the river about a mile, turned at length northward and met its banks. On the one side this ridge enclosed a rolling table-land ; on the other it sloped sharply to the great valley. The engi- neers under Duportail marked out a line of intrenchments four feet high, protected by a ditch si.K feet wide, from the entrance of the Valley Creek defile along the crest of this ridge until it joined the bank of the Schuylkill, where a redoubt marked the eastern angle of the encampment. High on the shoulder of Mount Joy a second line girdled the mountain and then ran northward to the river, broken only by the hollow through which the Gulf road descended to the Forge. This hollow place was later defended by an abatis and a triangular earth- work. A redoubt on the east side of Mount Joy commanded the Valley road, and another behind the left flank of the abatis that which came from the river, while a star redoubt on a hill at the bank acted as a tete-de-pont for the bridge that was thrown across the Schuylkill. Behind the front and before the second line the troops were ordered to build huts for winter- quarters. Fourteen feet by sixteen, of logs plastered with clay, these huts began to rise on every side. Placed in rows, each brigade by itself, they soon gave the camp the appearance of a little city. All day long the axe resounded among the hills, and the place was filled with the noise of hammering and the crash of falling trees. " I was there when the army first began to build huts," wrote Paine to Franklin. " They appeared to me like a family of beavers, every one busy: some carrying logs, others plastering them together. The whole was raised in a few days, and it is a curious collection of buildings in the true rustic order." The weather soon became intensely cold. The Schuylkill froze over and the roads were blocked with snow, but it was not until nearly the middle of January that the last hut was built and the army settled down into winter-quarters on the bare hill-sides. Long before that its sufferings had begun. The trials which have made this place so famous arose chiefly from the incapacity of Congress, It is true that the country in the neighborhood of Philadelphia was wellnigh exhausted. An active campaign over a small extent of territory had drawn heavily on the resources of this part of Pennsylvania and the adjacent Jersey. Both forces had fed upon the country, and it was not so much disaffection (of which Washington wrote) as utter exhaustion, which made the farmers of the devastated region furnish so little to the army. Nor would it have been human nature in them to have preferred the badly printed, often counterfeited, depreciated promise to pay of the Americans for the gold which the British had to offer. In spite of the efforts of McLane's and Lee's Light-Horse and the activity of Lacey, of the miHtia, the (ew suppHes that were left went steadily to Philadelphia, and the patriot army remained in want. But the more distant States, North and South, could easily have fed and clothed a much more numerous army. That they did not was the fault of Congress. That body no longer contained the men who had made it famous in the years gone by. Franklin was in Paris, where John Adams was about to join him. Jay, Jefferson, Rutledge, Livingston, and Henry were employed at home. Hancock had resigned. Samuel Adams was absent in New England. Men much their inferiors had taken their places. The period, inevitable in the history of revolutions, had arrived when men of the second rank come to the front. With the early leaders in the struggle had disappeared the foresight, the breadth of view, the loftiness of purpose, and the .self-sacrificing spirit belonging only to great minds which had marked and honored the commencement of the struggle. A smaller mind had begun to rule, a narrower view to influ- ence, a personal feeling to animate the members. Driven from Philadelphia, they were in a measure disheartened, and their pride touched in a tender spot. Incapable of the loftier senti- ments which had moved their predecessors, they could not overcome a sense of their own importance, and the desire to magnify their office. Petty rivalries had sprung up among them, and sectional feeling, smothered in '74, '75, and 'y6, had taken breath again, and asserted itself with renewed vigor in the recent debates on the confederation. But if divided among themselves by petty jealousies, they were united in a greater jealousy of Washington and the army. They cannot be wholly blamed for this. Taught by history no less than by their own experience of the dangers of standing armies in a free state, and wanting in modern history the single example which we have in Washington of a successful military chief retiring vol- untarily into private life, they judged the leader of their forces by themselves and the ordinary rules of human nature. Their distrust was not unnatural nor wholly selfish, and must find some justification in the exceptional greatness of his character. It was in vain that he called on them to dismiss their doubts and trust an army which had proved faithful. In vain he urged them to let their patriotism embrace, as his had learned to do, the whole country with an equal fervor. In vain he pointed out that want of organization in the army was due to want of union among them. They continued distrustful and unconvinced. In vain he asked for a single army, one and homogeneous. Congress insisted on thirteen distinct armies, each under the control of its particular State. The effect was disastrous. The personnel of the army was continually chang- ing. Each State had its own rules, its own system of organi- zation, its own plan of making enlistments. No two worked together, â€” the men's terms even expiring at the most delicate and critical times. Promotion was irregular and uncertain, and the sense of duty was impaired as that of responsibility grew less. Instead of an organized army, Washington commanded a disorganized mob. The extraordinary virtues of that great man might keep the men together, but there were some things which they could not do. Without an organized quartermaster's department the men could not be clothed or fed. At first mis- managed, this department became neglected. The warnings of Washington were disregarded, his appeals in vain. The troops began to want clothing soon after Brandywine. By November it was evident that they must keep the field without blankets, overcoats, or tents. At Whitemarsh they lay, half clad, on frozen ground. By the middle of December they were in want of the necessaries of life. THE SUFFERINGS OF THE SOLDIERS. " We are ordered to march over the river," writes Dr. Waldo, of Colonel Prentice's Connecticut Regiment, at Swedes* Ford, on December 12. " It snows â€” I'm sick â€” eat nothing â€” no whiskey â€” no baggage â€” Lord â€” Lord â€” -Lord. Till sunrise crossing the river, cold and uncomfortable. I'm sick," he goes on two days after, in his diary, ** discontented, and out of humor. Bad food â€” hard lodging â€” cold weather â€” fatigued â€” nasty clothes â€” nasty cookery â€” smoked out of my senses â€” I can't endure it. Here comes a bowl of soup, sickish enough to make a Hector ill. Away with it, boy â€” I'll live like the chameleon, on air." On the 19th of December they reached Valley Forge. By the 21st even such a bowl of soup had become a luxury. " A general cry," notes Waldo again, " through the camp this evening : ' No meat, no meat.' The distant vales echoed back the melancholy sound : ' No meat, no meat.' " It was literally true. On the next day Washing- ton wrote to the President of Congress : " I do not know from what cause this alarming deficiency, or rather total failure of supplies, arises, but unless more vigorous exertions and better regulations take place in that line immediately this army must dissolve. I have done all in my power by remonstrating, by writing, by ordering the commissaries on this head from time to time, but without any good effect or obtaining more than a present scanty relief Owing to this the march of the army has been delayed on more than one interesting occasion in the course of the present campaign ; and had a body of the enemy crossed the Schuylkill this morning (as I had reason to expect from the intelligence I received at four o'clock last night), the divisions which I ordered to be in readiness to march and meet them could not have moved." Hardly was this written when the news did come that the enemy had come out to Darby, and the troops were ordered under arms. " Fighting," re- sponded General Huntington when he got the order, " will be far preferable to starving. My brigade is out of provisions, nor can the commissary attain any meat." " Three days succes- sively," added Varnum, of Rhode Island, " we have been with- out bread, two entirely without meat." It was impossible to stir. " And this," wrote Washington, in indignation, " brought forth the only commissary in camp, and with him this melan- choly and alarming truth, that he had not a single hoof to slaughter and not more than twenty-five barrels of flour." " I am now convinced beyond a doubt that unless some great and capital change takes place in that line this army must inevita- bly be reduced to one of these three things, â€” starve, dissolve, or disperse in order to obtain subsistence." But no change was destined to take place for many suffering weeks to come. The cold grew more and more intense, and provisions scarcer every day. Soon all were alike in want. " The colonels were often reduced to two rations, and some- times to one. The army frequently remained whole days without provisions," is the testimony of Lafayette. " We have lately been in an alarming state for want of provisions," says Colonel Laurens, on the 2ist of February. "The army has been in great distress since you left," wrote Greene to Knox five days afterwards ; " the troops are getting naked. They were seven days without meat, and several days without bread. . . . We are still in danger of starving. Hundreds of horses have already starved to death." The painful testi- mony is full and uncontradictory. " Several brigades," wrote Adjutant-General Scammel to Timothy Pickering, early in February, " have been without their allowance of meat. This is the third day." " In yesterday's conference with the Gen- eral," said the committee of Congress sent to I'eport, writing on the 1 2th of February, " he informed us that some brigades had been four days without meat, and that even the common sol- diers had been at his quarters to make known their wants. Should the enemy attack the camp successfully, your artillery would inevitably fall into their hands for want of horses to remove it. But these are smaller and tolerable evils when compared with the imminent danger of your troops perishing with famine or dispersing in search of food." " For some days past there has been little less than a famine in the camp," writes Hamilton to Clinton ; " a part of the army has been a week without any kind of flesh, and the rest three or four days." Famished for want of food, they were no better off for clothes. The unfortunate soldiers were in want of everything. " They had neither coats, hats, shirts, nor shoes," wrote the Marquis de Lafayette. "The men," said Baron Steuben, "were literally naked, some of them in the fullest extent of the word." " 'Tis a melancholy consideration," were the words of Picker- ing, " that hundreds of our men are unfit for duty only for want of clothes and shoes." Hear Washington himself on the 23d of December: "We have (besides a number of men con- fined to hospitals for want of shoes, and others in farm-houses ~on the same account), by a field return, this day made, no less than two thousand nine hundred and eighty-nine men now in camp unfit for duty, because they are barefoot and otherwise naked. Our numbers since the 4th instant from the hardships and exposures they have undergone, numbers having been obliged for want of blankets to sit up all night by fires instead of taking rest in a natural and common way, have decreased two thousand men." By the 1st of February that number had grown to four thousand, and there were fit for duty but five thousand and twelve, or one-half the men in camp. " So," in the words of the Hebrew prophet, "they labored in the work, and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morn- ing till the stars appeared." NAKED AND STARVING. Naked and starving in an- unusually rigorous winter, they fell sick by hundreds. " From want of clothes their feet and legs froze till they became black, and it was necessary to ampu- tate them." "Through a want of straw or materials to raise them from the wet earth" (I quote again from the committee of Congress) " sickness and mortality have spread through their quarters to an astonishing degree. The smallpox has broken out. Notwithstanding the diligence of the physicians and sur- geons, the sick and dead list has increased one-third in the last week's return, which was one-third greater than the preceding, and from the present inclement weather will probably increase in a much greater proportion." Well might Washington ex- claim, " Our sick naked, our well naked, our unfortunate men in captivity naked ! Our difficulties and distresses are certainly great, and such as wound the feelings of humanity." Nor was this all. What many had to endure beside, let Dr. Waldo tell: "When the officer has been fatiguing through wet and cold, and returns to his tent to find a letter from his wife filled with the most heart-aching complaints a woman is capable of writing, acquainting him with the incredible difficulty with which she procures a little bread for herself and children ; that her money is of very little consequence to her, â€” concluding with expressions bordering on despair of getting sufficient food to keep soul and body together through the winter, and beg- ging him to consider that charity begins at home, and not suffer his family to perish with want in the midst of plenty, â€” what man is there whose soul would not shrink within him? Who would not be disheartened from persevering in the best of causes â€” the cause of his country â€” when such discouragements as these lie in his way which his country might remedy if it would?" Listen to his description of the common soldier : " See the poor soldier when in health. With what cheerfulness he meets his foes and encounters every hardship. If barefoot, he labors thro' the mud and cold with a song in his mouth, extolling war and Washington. If his food be bad he eats it notwithstand- ing with seeming content, blesses God for a good stomach, and whistles it into digestion. But harkee ! Patience a moment ! There comes a soldier and cries with an air of wretchedness and despair, * I'm sick ; my feet lame ; my legs are sore ; my body covered with this tormenting itch ; my clothes are worn out ; my constitution is broken ; my former activity is exhausted by fatigue, hunger, and cold ; I fail fast ; I shall soon be no more ! And all the reward I shall get will be, ' Poor Will is dead !' " And in the midst of this they persevered ! Freezing, starving, dying, rather than desert their flag they saw their loved ones suffer, but kept the faith. And the American yeoman of the Revolution remaining faithful through that winter is as splendid an example of devotion to duty as that which the pitying ashes of Vesuvius have preserved through eighteen centuries in the figure of the Roman soldier standing at his post, unmoved amid all the horrors of Pompeii. " The Guard die, but never surrender," was the phrase invented for Cambronne. " My comrades freeze and starve, but they never forsake me," might be put into the mouth of Washington. '' Naked and starving as they are," writes one of their officers^ " one cannot sufficiently admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiers that have not been ere this excited by their sufferings to a general mutiny and desertion." " Nothing can equal their sufferings," says the committee, " except the patience and fortitude with which they bear them." Greene's account to Knox is touching: "Such patience and moderation as they manifested under their sufferings does the highest honor to the magnanimity of the American soldiers. The seventh day they came before their superior officers and told their sufferings as if they had been humble petitioners for special favors. They added that it would be impossible to continue in camp any longer without" support," In March, Thomas Wharton wrote in the name of Pennsylvania : " The unparalleled patience and magnanimity with which the army under your Excellency's command have endured the hardships attending their situation, unsupplied as they have been through an uncommonly severe winter, is an honor which posterity will consider as more illus- trious than could have been derived to them by a victory obtained by any sudden and vigorous exertion." " I would cherish these dear, ragged Continentals, whose patience will be the admiration of future ages, and glory in bleeding with them," cried John Laurens in the enthusiasm of youth. "The patience and endurance of both soldiers and officers was a miracle which each moment seemed to renew," said Lafayette in his old age. But the noblest tribute comes from the pen of him who knew them best :/f^ Without arrogance or the smallest deviation from truth, it may be said that no history now extant can furnish an instance of an army's suffering such uncommon hardships as ours has done, and bearing them with the same patience and fortitude. To see men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie upon, without shoes (for the want of which their marches might be traced by the blood from their feet), and almost as often without provisions as with them, marching through the frost and snow, and at Christmas taking up their winter-quarters within a day's march of the enemy without a house or a hut to cover them till they could be built, and submitting without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience which in my opinion can scarce be paralleled.") Such was Washington's opinion of the soldiers of Valley Forge. HOLY GROUND. Americans, who have gathered on the broad bosom of these hills to-day, if heroic deeds can consecrate a spot of earth, if the living be still sensible of the example of the dead, if cour- age be yet a common virtue and patience in suffering be still honorable in your sight, if freedom be any longer precious and faith in humanity be not banished from among you, if love of country still find a refuge among the hearts of men, "take your shoes from off your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground." And who are the leaders of the men whose heroism can sanctify a place like this? Descend the hill and wander through the camp. The weather is intensely cold and the smoke hangs above the huts. On the plain behind the front line a few gen- eral officers are grouped about a squad whom the new inspector, the German baron, is teaching some manoeuvre. Bodies of men here and there are dragging wagons up-hill (for the horses have starved to death) or carrying fuel for fires, without which the troops would freeze. The huts are deserted save by the sick or naked, and as you pass along the street a poor fellow peeps out at the door of one and cries, " No bread, no soldier!" THE TROOPS AND THEIR LEADERS. These are the huts of Huntington's brigade, of the Connecti- cut line ; next to it those of Pennsylvanians under Conway. This is the Irish-Frenchman soon to disappear in a disgraceful intrigue. Here in camp there are many who whisper that he is a mere adventurer, but in Congress they still think him " a great military character." Down towards headquarters are the Southerners, commanded by Lachlin Mcintosh, in his youth " the handsomest man in Georgia." Beyond Conway, on the hill, is Maxwell, a gallant Irishman, commissioned by New Jersey. Woodford, of Virginia, commands on the right of the second line, and in front of him the Virginian Scott. The next brigade in order is of Pennsylvanians, â€” many of them men whose homes are in this neighborhood, â€” Chester County boys and Quakers from the valley turned soldier for their country's sake. They are the children of three races : the hot Irish blood mixes with the colder Dutch in their calm English veins, and some of them â€” their chief, for instance â€” are splendid fighters. There he is at this moment riding up the hill from his quarters in the valley. A man of medium height and strong frame, he sits his horse well and with a dashing air. His nose is promi- nent, his eye piercing, his complexion ruddy, his whole appear- ance that of a man of splendid health and flowing spirits. He is just the fellow to win by his headlong valor the nickname of " The Mad." But he is more than a mere fighter. Skilful, ener- getic, full of resources and presence of mind, quick to comprehend and prompt to act, of sound judgment and extraordinary cour- age, he has in him the qualities of a great general, as he shall show many a time in his short Hfe of one-and-fifty years. Pennsylvania, after her quiet fashion, may not make as much of his fame as it deserves, but impartial history will allow her none the less the honor of having given its most brilliant sol- dier to the Revolution in her Anthony Wayne. Poor, of New Hampshire, is encamped next, and then Glover, whose regiment of Marblehead sailors and fishermen manned the boats that saved the army on the night of the retreat from Long Island. Learned, Patterson, and Weedon follow, and then at the corner of the intrenchments by the river is the Virginian brigade of Muhlenberg. Born at the Trappe, close by, and educated abroad, Muhlenberg was a clergyman in Virginia when the war cjame on, but he has doffed his parson's gown forever for the buff and blue of a brigadier. His stalwart form and swarthy face are already as familiar to the enemy as they are to his own men, for the Hessians are said to have cried, " Hier kommt teufel Pete !" as they saw him lead a charge at Brandywine. The last brigade is stationed on the river-bank, where Varnum and his Rhode Islanders, in sympathy with young Laurens, of Carolina, are busy with a scheme to raise and enlist regiments of negro troops. These are the commanders of brigades. The major-generals are seven, â€” portly William Alexander, of New York, who claims to be the Earl of Stirling, but can fight for a republic bravely nevertheless; swarthy John Sullivan, of New Hampshire, a little headstrong but brave as a lion ; Steuben, the Prussian martinet, who has just come to teach the army; De Kalb, â€” self-sacrificing and generous De Kalb, â€” whose honest breast shall soon bear eleven mortal wounds received in the service of America; Lafayette, tall, with auburn hair, â€” the French boy of twenty with an old man's head, â€” ^just recovering from the wounds of Brandywine ; and last and greatest of them all, Nathaniel Greene, the Quaker blacksmith from Rhode Island, in all great qualities second only to the Chief himself Yonder is Henry Knox, of the artillery, as brave and faithful as he is big and burly, and the Pole, Pulaski, a man " of middle stature, of sharp countenance and lively air." Here are the Frenchmen, Duportail, Dubryson, Duplessis, and Duponceau. Here are Timothy Pickering and Light-Horse Harry Lee, destined to be famous in Senate, Cabinet, and field. Here are Henry Dearborn and William Hull, whose paths in life shall one day cross again, and John Laurens and Tench Tilghman, those models of accomplished manhood, destined so soon to die ! Does that silent boy of twenty, who has just ridden by with a message from Lord Stirling, imagine that one day the doc- trine which shall keep the American continent free from the touch of European politics shall be forever associated with the name of James Monroe ? Does yonder tall, awkward youth, in the Third Virginia, who bore a musket so gallantly at Brandywine, dream, as he lies there shivering in his little hut on the slopes of Mount Joy, that in the not distant future it is he that shall build up the jurisprudence of a people, and after a life of usefulness and honor bequeath to them, in the fame of John Marshall, the precious example of a great and upright Judge? Two other youths are here, â€” both of small stature and lithe, active frame, â€” of the same rank and almost the same age, whose ambitious eyes alike look forward already to fame and power in law and politics. But not even his own aspiring spirit can foretell the splendid rise, the dizzy elevation, and the sudden fall of Aaron Burr â€” nor can the other foresee that the time will never come when his countrymen will cease to admire the genius and lament the fate of Alexander Hamilton ! THE DARKEST HOUR. And what shall I say of him who bears on his heart the weight of all? Who can measure the anxieties that afflict his mind? Who weigh the burdens that he has to bear? 'Who but himself can ever know the responsibilities that rest upon his soul ? Behold him in yonder cottage, his lamp burning steadily through half the winter night, his brain never at rest, his hand always busy, his pen ever at work; now counselling with Greene how to clothe and feed the troops, or with Steuben how to reorganize the service ; now writing to Howe about exchanges, or to Livingston about the relief of prisoners, or to Clinton about supplies, or to Congress about enlistments or promotions or finances or the French Alliance ; opposing foolish and rash councils to-day, urging prompt and rigorous policies to-morrow ; now calming the jealousy of Congress, now soothing the wounded pride of ill-used officers ; now ansvvering the complaints of the civil authority, and now those of the starving soldiers, whose sufferings he shares, and by his cheerful courage keeping up the hearts of both ; repressing the zeal of friends to-day, and overcoming with steadfast rectitude the intrigues of enemies in Congress and in camp to-morrow; bearing criticism with patience and calumny with fortitude, and, lest his country should suffer, answering both only with plans for her defence, of which others are to reap the glory; guard- ing the long coast with ceaseless vigilance, and watching with sleepless eye a chance to strike the enemy in front a blow ; a soldier subordinating the military to the civil power; a dictator as mindful of the rights of Tories as of the wrongs of Whigs ; a statesman, commanding a revolutionary army; a patriot, for- getful of nothing but himself; this is he whose extraordinary virtues only have kept the army from disbanding and saved his country's cause. Modest in the midst of pride, wise in the midst of folly, calm in the midst of passion, cheerful in the midst of gloom, steadfast among the wavering, hopeful among the despondent, bold among the timid, prudent among the rash, generous among the selfish, true among the faithless, greatest among good men and best among the great, â€” such was George Washington at Valley Forge. But the darkest hour of night is just before the day. In the middle of February Washington described the dreadful situation of the army and "the miserable prospects before it" as " more alarming" than can possibly be conceived, and as occasioning him more distress " than he had felt" since the commencement of the war. On the 23d of February he whom we call Baron Steuben rode into camp ; on the 6th, Franklin signed the Treaty of Alliance at Versailles. STEUBEN AND FRANKLIN. Frederick William Augustus, Baron von Steuben, was a native of Magdeburg, in Prussia. Trained from early life to arms, he had been Aide to the Great Frederick, Lieutenant-General to the Prince of Baden, Grand Marshal at the Court of one of the Hohenzollerns, and a Canon of the Church. A skilful soldier, a thorough disciplinarian, a gentleman of polished manners, a man of warm and generous heart, he had come in the prime of life and vigor to offer his services to the American people. None could have been more needed or more valuable at the time. Congress sent him to the camp, Washington quickly discerned his worth, and in a little time he was made Major- General and Inspector of the army. In an instant there was a change in that department. A discipline unknown before took possession of the camp. Beginning with a picked company of one hundred and twenty men, the Baron drilled them carefully himself on foot and musket in hand. These when they became proficient he made a model for others, and presently the whole camp had become a military school. Rising at three in the morning, he smoked a single pipe while his servant dressed his hair, drank one cup of coffee, and with his star of knighthood gleaming on his breast was on horseback at sunrise, and with or without his suite galloped to the parade. There all day he drilled the men, and at nightfall galloped back to the hut in which he made his quarters, to draw up regulations and draft instructions for the inspectors under him. And thus day after day, patient, careful, laborious, and persevering, in a few months he transformed this untrained yeomanry into a disciplined and effective army. There have been more brilliant services ren- dered to America than these, but few perhaps more valuable and worthier of remembrance. Knight of the Order of Fidelity, there have been more illustrious names than thine upon our lips to-day. Like many another who labored for us, our busy age has seemed to pass thee by. But here, at last, when, after a century, Americans gather to review their country's history, shall they recall thy unselfish services with gratitude, and thy memory with honor. And surely at Valley Forge we must not forget what Frank- lin was doing for his country's cause in France. It was a happy thing for the Republican Idea that it had a distant conti- nent for the place of its experiment. It was a fortunate thing for America that between her and her nearest European neigh- bor lay a thousand leagues of sea. That distance â€” a very dif- ferent matter from what it is to-day â€” made it at the same time difficult for England to overcome us, and safe for France to lend us aid. From an early period this alliance seemed to have been considered by the Cabinet of France. For several years secret negotiations had been going on, and in the fall of 1777 they became open and distinct, and the representatives of both nations came face to face. There was no sympathy be- tween weak and feeble Louis and his crafty Ministers on the one side and the representatives of Democracy and Rebellion on the other, â€” nor had France any hopes of regaining her foot- hold on this continent. The desire of her rulers was simply to humiliate and injure England, and the revolution in America seemed to offer the chance. Doubtless they were influenced by the fact that the cause of America had become very popular with all classes of the French people, impressed to a remark- able degree with the character of Dr. Franklin, and stirred by the contagious and generous example of Lafayette. Nor was this popular feeling merely temporary or without foundation. Long familiar as he had been with despotism in both politics and religion, the Frenchman still retained within him a certain spirit of Liberty which was stronger than he knew. His sym- pathies naturally went out toward a distant people engaged in a gallant struggle against his hereditary enemies, â€” the English; but besides all that, there was in his heart something, he hardly knew what, that vibrated at the thought of a freedom for others, which he had hardly dreamed of and never known. Little did he or any of his rulers foresee what that something was. Little did France imagine, as she blew mto a flame the spark of liberty beyond the sea, that there was that within her own dominions which in eleven years, catching the divine fire from the glowing West, would set herself and Europe in a blaze. Accordingly, after much doubt, delay, and intrigue, during which Franklin bore himself with rare ability and tact, treaties of amity, com- merce, and alliance were prepared and signed. The indepen- dence of America was acknowledged and made the basis of alliance, and it was mutually agreed that neither nation should lay down its arms until England had conceded it. A fleet, an army, and munitions were promised by the King, and, as a consequence, war was at once declared against Great Britain. THE DAWN AT LAST. We are accustomed to regard this as the turning-point in the Revolutionary struggle. And so it was. But neither the fleet of France nor her armies, gallant as they were, nor the sup- plies and means with which she furnished us, were as valuable to the cause of the struggling country as the moral effect, at home as well as abroad, of the alliance. Hopes that were built upon the skill of French sailors were soon dispelled, the ex- pectation of large contingent armies was not to be fulfilled, but the news of the French alliance carried into every patriotic heart an assurance that never left it afterward, and kept aroused a spirit that henceforward grew stronger every year. Says the historian Bancroft : " The benefit then conferred on the United States was priceless. And so the flags of France and the United States went together into the field against Great Britain unsup- ported by any other government, yet with the good 'wishes of all the peoples of Europe." And so illustrious Franklin, the Philadelphia printer, earned the magnificent compliment that was paid him at the French Academy : " Eripuit fulmen coslo, sceptrumque tyrannis." And all the while, unconscious of the event, the winter days at Valley Forge dragged by, one after another, with sleet and slush and snow, with storms of wind, and ice and beating rain. The light-horse scoured the country, the pickets watched, the sentinels paced up and down, the men drilled and practised, and starved and froze and suffered, and at last the spring-time came, and with it stirring news. Greene was appointed Quarter- master-General on the 23d of March, and under his skilful man- agement relief and succor came. The conciliatory bills, offering all but independence, were received in April, and instantly rejected by Congress, under the stirring influence of a letter from Wash- ington, declaring with earnestness that " nothing short of inde- pendence would do," and at last, on the 4th of May, at eleven o'clock at night, the news of the French treaty reached the headquarters. On the 6th, by general orders, the army, after appropriate religious services, was drawn up under arms, salutes were fired with cannon and musketry, cheers given by the soldiers for the King of France and the American States, and a banquet by the General-in-Chief to all the officers in the open air completed a day devoted to rejoicing. "And all the while," says the English satirist, " Howe left the famous camp of Valley Forge untouched, whilst his great, brave, and perfectly appointed army fiddled and gambled and feasted in Philadelphia. And by Byng's countrymen triumphal arches were erected, tourna- ments were held in pleasant mockery of the Middle Ages, and wreaths and garlands offered by beautiful ladies to this clement chief, with fantastical mottoes and poesies announcing that his laurels should be immortal." On the i8th of May (the day of that famous festivity) Lafayette took post at Barren Hill, from which he escaped so brilliantly two days afterwards. At last, on the 1 8th of June, George Roberts, of Philadelphia, came galloping up the Gulf road covered with dust and sweat, with the news that the British had evacuated Philadelphia. Six brigades were at once in motion, â€” the rest of the army pre- pared to follow with all possible despatch early on the 19th. The bridge across the Schuylkill was laden with tramping troops. Cannon rumbled rapidly down the road to the river. The scanty baggage was packed, the flag at headquarters taken down, the last brigade descended the river-bank, the huts were empty, the breastworks deserted, the army was off for Mon- mouth, and the hills of Valley Forge were left alone with their glory and their dead. The last foreign foe had left the soil of Pennsylvania forever. Yes, the last foreign foe ! Who could foretell the mysteries of the future? Who foresee the trials that were yet to come ? Little did the sons of New England and the South, who starved and froze and died here in the snow together, think, as their eyes beheld for the last time the little flag that meant for them a common country, that the time would come when, amid sound of cannon, their children, met again on Pennsylvania soil, would confront each other in the splendid agony of battle ! Sorrow was their portion, but it was not given them to suffer this. It was theirs to die in the gloomiest period of their country's history, but certain that her salvation was assured. It was theirs to go down into the grave rejoicing in the belief that their lives were sacrifice enough, blessedly unconscious that the liberty for which they struggled demanded that three hundred thousand of their children should with equal courage and devotion lay down their lives in its de- fence. Happy alike they who died before that time and we who have survived it! And, thank God this day, that its shadow has passed away forever. The sins of the fathers visited upon the children have been washed away in blood, â€” the sacrifice has been accepted, â€” the expiation has been com- plete. The men of North and South whose bones moulder on these historic hill-sides did not die in vain. The institutions which they gave us we preserve, â€” the freedom for which they fought is still our birthright, â€” the flag under which they died floats above our heads on this anniversary, the emblem of a redeemed, regenerate, reunited country. The Union of these States still stands secure. Enemies within and foes without have failed to break it, and the spirit of faction, from whatever quarter or in whatever cause, can no more burst its holy bonds asunder thnn can we separate in this sacred soil the dust of Massachusetts and that of Carolina from that Pennsylvania dust in whose embrace it has slumbered for a century, and with which it must forever be indistinguishably mingled. THE GLORY OF VALLEY FORGE. Such, then, is the history of this famous place. To my mind it has a glory all its own. The actions which have made it famous stand by themselves. It is not simply because they are heroic. Brave deeds have sanctified innumerable places in every land. The men of our revolution were not more brave than their French allies, or their German cousins, or their English brethren. Courage belongs alike to all men. Nor were they the only men in history who suffered. Others have borne trial as bravely, endured with the same patience, died with as perfect a devotion. But it is not given to all men to die in the best of causes or win the greatest victories. It was the rare fortune of those who were assembled here one hundred years ago that, having in their keeping the most momentous things that were ever intrusted to a people, they were at once both faithful and vic- torious. The army that was encamped here was but a handful, but what host ever defended so much ? And what spot of earth has had a farther reaching and happier influence on the human race than this ? Is it that which the traveller beholds when from Pentelicus he looks down on Marathon ? The life of Athens was short, and the liberty which was saved on that immortal field she gave up ingloriously more than twenty centuries ago. The tyranny she resisted so gallantly from without she practised cruelly at home. The sword which she wielded so well in her own defence she turned as readily against her children. Her civilization, brilliant as it was, was narrow, and her spirit selfish. The boundaries of her tiny state were larger than her heart, whose sympathy could not include more than a part of her own kindred. Her aspirations were pent up in herself, and she stands in history to-day a prodigy of short-lived splendor, â€” a warning rather than example. Is it any one of those, where the men of the forest cantons fell on the invader like an ava- lanche from their native Alps and crushed him out of exist- ence ? The bravery of the Swiss achieved only a sterile inde- pendence, which his native mountains defended as well as he, and he tarnished his glory forever when the sword of Morgarten was hawked about the courts of Europe, and the victor of Grandson and Morat sold himself to the foreign shambles of the highest bidder. VALLEY FORGE AND WATERLOO. Or is it that still more famous field, where the Belgian lion keeps guard over the dead of three great nations ? There, three-and-sixty years ago yesterday, the armies of Europe met in conflict. It was the war of giants. On the one side England, the first power of the age, flushed with victory, of inexhaustible resources, redoubtable by land and invincible by sea, and Prussia, vigorous by nature, strong by adversity, hardened by suffering, full of bitter memories and hungry for revenge, and on the other France, once mistress of the Continent, the arbiter of nations, the conquerer of Wagram and Marengo and Fried- land and Austerlitz, â€” spent at last in her own service, crushed rather by the weight of her victories than by the power of her enemies' arm, â€” turning in her bloody footsteps, like a wounded lion, to spring with redoubled fury at the throat of her pursuers. Behold the conflict as it raged through the long June day, while all the world listened and held its breath ! The long lines of red, the advancing columns of blue, the glitter of burnished steel, the roll of drums, the clangor of trumpets, the cheering of men, the fierce attack, the stubborn resistance, the slow recoil, the rattle of musketry, the renewed assault, the crash of arms, the roar of cannons, the clatter of the charging cavalry, the cries of the combatants, the clash of sabres, the shrieks of the dying, the confused retreat, the gal- lant rally, the final charge, the sickening repulse, the last strug- gle, the shouts of the victors, the screams of the vanquished, the wild confusion, the blinding smoke, the awful uproar, the unspeakable rout, the furious pursuit, the sounds fading in the distance, the groans of the wounded, the falling of the summer rain, the sighing of the evening breeze, the solemn silence of the night. Climb the steps that lead to the summit of the mound that marks that place to-day. There is no spot in Europe more famous than the field beneath your feet. In out- ward aspect it is not unlike this which we behold here. The hills are not so high nor the valleys so deep, but the general effect of field and farm, of ripening grain and emerald wood- land, is much the same. It has not been changed. There is the chateau of Houguomont on the west, and the forest through which the Prussians came on the east ; on yonder hill the Emperor watched the battle ; beneath you Ney made the last of many charges, â€” the world knows it all by heart. The traveller of every race turns toward it his footsteps. It is the most celebrated battle-field of Europe and of modern times. But what did that great victory accomplish ? It broke the power of one nation and asserted the independence of the rest It took from France an Emperor and gave her back a King, a ruler whom she had rejected in place of one whom she had chosen, a Bourbon for a Bonaparte, a King by Divine right for an Emperor by the people's will. It revenged the memory of Jena and Corunna, and broke the spell that made the fated name Napoleon the bond of an empire almost universal ; it struck down one great man and fixed a dozen small ones on the neck of Europe. But what did it bequeath to us beside the ever-precious example of heroic deeds? Nothing. What did they who conquered there achieve ? Fame for themselves, woe for the vanquished, glory for England, revenge for Prussia, shame for France, nothing for humanity, nothing for liberty, nothing for civilization, nothing for the rights of man. One of the great Englishmen of that day declared that it had turned back the hands on the dial of the world's progress for fifty years. And, said an English poetess, â€” The Kings crept out again to feel the sun, The Kings crept out â€” the peoples sat at home, And finding the long-invocated peace, .^ A pall embroidered with worn images Of rights divine, too scant to cover doom Such as they suffered â€” curst the corn that grew Rankly to bitter bread on Waterloo. My countrymen : â€” For a century the eyes of struggling na- tions have turned towards this spot, and lips in every language have blessed the memory of Valley Forge ! The tide of battle never ebbed and flowed upon these banks ; these hills never trembled beneath the tread of charging squadrons nor echoed the thunders of contending cannon. The blood that stained this ground did not rush forth in the joyous frenzy of the fight; it fell drop by drop from the heart of a suffering people. They who once encamped here in the snow fought not for conquest, not for power, not for glory, not for their country only, not for themselves alone. They served here for posterity; they suffered here for the human race; they bore here the cross of all the peoples ; they died here that freedom might be the heritage of all. It was humanity which they defended; it was Liberty herself whom they had in keeping, â€” she that was sought in the wilderness and mourned for by the waters of Babylon, â€” that was saved at Salamis and thrown away at Chser- onea, â€” that was fought for at Cannae and lost forever at Phar- salia and Philippi, â€” she who confronted the Armada on the deck with Howard and rode beside Cromwell on the field of Worcester, â€” for whom the Swiss gathered into his breast the sheaf of spears at Sempach and the Dutchman broke the dykes of Holland and welcomed in the sea, â€” she of whom Socrates spoke and Plato wrote and Brutus dreamed and Homer sung, â€” for whom Eliot pled and Sydney suffered and Milton prayed and Hampden fell ! Driven by the persecutions of centuries from the older world, she had come with Pilgrim and Puritan and Cavalier and Quaker to seek a shelter in the new. At- tacked once more by her old enemies, she had taken refuge here. Nor she alone. The dream of the Greek, the Hebrew's prophecy, the desire of the Roman, the ItaHan's prayer, the longing of the German mind, the hope of the French heart, the glory and honor of Old England herself, the yearning of all the centuries, the aspiration of every age, the promise of the past, the fulfilment of the future, the seed of the old time, the harvest of the new, â€” all these were with her. And here, in the heart of America, they were safe. The last of many struggles was almost won ; the best of many centuries was about to break ; the time was already come when from these shores the light of a new civilization should flash across the sea, and from this place a voice of triumph make the Old World tremble, when, from her chosen refuge in the West, the spirit of liberty should go forth to meet the rising sun and set the people free ! A HUNDRED YEARS. Americans: â€” A hundred years have passed away, and that civilization and that liberty are still your heritage. But think not that such an inheritance can be kept safe without exertion. It is the burden of your happiness that with it privilege and duty go hand-m-hand together. You cannot shirk the present and enjoy in the future the blessings of the past. Yesterday begot to-day, and to-day is the parent of to-morrow. The old time may be secure, but the new time is uncertain. The dead are safe; it is the privilege of the living to be in peril. A country is benefited by great actions only so long as her chil- dren are able to repeat them. The memory of this spot shall be an everlasting honor for our fathers, but we can make it an eternal shame for ourselves if we choose to do so. The glory of Lexington and Bunker Hill and Saratoga and Valley Forge belongs not to you and me, but we can make it ours if we will. It is well for us to keep these anniversaries of great events ; it is well for us to meet by thousands on these historic spots; it is well to walk by those unknown graves and follow the windings of the breastworks that encircle yonder hill ; it is well for us to gather beneath yon little fort, which the storms of so many winters have tenderly spared to look down on us to-day ; it is well to commemorate the past with song and eulogy and pleasant festival,' â€” but it is not enough. If they could return whose forms have been passing in imag- ination before our eyes ; if in the presence of this holy hour the dead could rise and lips dumb for a century find again a tongue, might they not say to us: You do well, countrymen, to commemorate this time ; you do well to honor those who yielded up their lives in glory here. Theirs was a perfect sacri- fice, and the debt you owe them you can never pay. Your lines have fallen in a happier time. The boundaries of your Union stretch from sea to sea. You enjoy all the blessings which Providence can bestow, â€” a peace we never knew, a wealth we never hoped for, a power of which we never dreamed. Yet think not that these things only can make a nation great We laid the foundation of your happiness in a time of trouble, in days of sorrow and perplexity, of doubt, distress, and danger, of cold and hunger, of suffering and want. We built it up by virtue, by courage, by self-sacrifice, by unfailing patriotism, by unceasing vigilance. By those things alone did we win your liberties ; by them only can you hope to keep them. Do you revere our names ? Then follow our example. Are you proud of our achievements ? Then try to imitate them. Do you honor our memories ? Then do as we have done. You owe some- thing to America better than all those things which you spread before her with such lavish hand, â€” something which she needs as much in her prosperity to-day as ever in the sharpest crisis of her fate, â€” yourselves ! For you have duties to perform as well as we. It was ours to create; it is yours to preserve. It was ours to found ; it is yours to perpetuate. It was ours to organize; it is yours to purify! And what nobler spectacle can you present to mankind to-day than that of a people honest, steadfast, and secure, â€” mindful of the lessons of experience, â€” true to the teachings of history, â€” led by the loftiest examples, and bound together to protect their institutions at the close of the century, as their fathers were to win them at the beginning, by the ties of "Virtue, Honor, and Love of Country," â€” by that virtue which makes perfect the happiness of a people, â€” by that honor which constitutes the chief greatness of a State, â€” by that patriotism which survives all things, braves all things, endures all things, achieves all things, and which, though it find a refuge nowhere else, should live in the heart of every true American ? My countrymen : â€” The century that has gone by has changed the face of nature and wrought a revolution in the habits of mankind. We stand to-day at the dawn of an extraordinary age. Freed from the chains of ancient thought and supersti- tion, man has begun to win the most extraordinary victories in the domain of science. One by one he has dispelled the doubts of the ancient world. Nothing is too difficult for his hand to attempt,â€” no region too remote, â€” no place too sacred for his daring eye to penetrate. He has robbed the earth of her secrets, and sought to solve the mysteries of the heavens ! He has secured and chained to his service the elemental forces of nature; he has made the fire his steed; the winds his ministers; the seas his pathway; the lightning his messenger. He has descended into the bowels of the earth, and walked in safety on the bottom of the sea. He has raised his head above the clouds, and made the impalpable air his resting-place. He has tried to analyze the stars, count the constellations, and weigh the sun. He has advanced with such astounding speed that, breathless, we have reached a moment when it seems as if distance had been annihilated, time made as naught, the in- visible seen, the inaudible heard, the unspeakable spoken, the intangible felt, the impossible accomplished. And already we knock at the door of a new century which promises to be infi- nitely brighter and more enlightened and happier than this. But in all this blaze of light which illuminates the present and casts its reflection into the distant recesses of the past, there is not a single ray that shoots into the future. Not one step have we taken toward the solution of the mystery of life. That remains to-day as dark and unfathomable as it was ten thousand years ago. We know that we are more fortunate than our fathers. We believe that our children shall be happier than we. We know that this century is more enlightened than the last We believe that the time to come will be better and more glorious than this. We think, we believe, we hope, but we do not know. Across that threshold we may not pass ; behind that veil we may not penetrate. Into that country it may not be for us to go. It may be vouchsafed for us to behold it, wonderingly, from afar, but never to enter it. It matters not. The age in which we Hve is but a link in the endless and eternal chain, i Our lives are like the sands upon the shore ; our voices like/ the breath of this summer breeze that stirs the leaf for a moment and is forgotten. Whence we have come and whither we shall go not one of us can tell. And the last survivor of this mighty multitude shall stay but a little while. But in the impenetrable To be, the endless generations are advancing to take our places as we fall. For them as for us shall the earth roll on, and the seasons come and go, the snow- flakes fall, the flowers bloom, and the harvests be gathered in. For them as for us shall the sun, like the life of man, rise out of darkness in the morning and sink into darkness in the night. For them as for us shall the years march by in the sublime procession of the ages. And here, in this place of sacrifice, in this vale of humiliation, in this valley of the Shadow of that Death out of which the Life of America arose, regenerate and free, let us believe with an abiding faith that to them Union will seem as dear, and Liberty as sweet, and Progress as glorious as they were to our fathers, and are to you and me, and that the insti- tutions which have made us happy, preserved by the virtue of our children, shall bless the remotest generations of the time to come. And unto Him who holds in the hollow of His hand the fate of nations, and yet marks the sparrow's fall, let us lift up our hearts this day, and into His eternal care commend ourselves, our children, and our country. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 011 699 857 9