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(VIDEO) Barracks Show Valley Forge Winter Was Worse Than We Thought

May 27, 2014

We often hear about Valley Forge and the cold winter of 1777, when the prospect that there would be an American nation seemed dim. The video below brings home the conditions the men were forced to endure.


Typical Troop Quarters for the Continental Army

Home Sweet Woodshed

Army regulations specified that barrack houses should be 14×16 ft, but that was apparently more of a guideline than an actual regulation. These were hobbit-sized dwellings, as the video makes clear. Their small size would have made them easy to heat if they were equipped with wood stoves instead of inefficient fireplaces.

Imagine sharing barracks this size with 11 other soldiers coughing, snoring, and breathing the air, and George Washington’s ability to keep them in camp during the long, cold winter of 1777-78 is all the more amazing.

Bounce A Quarter Off This


Racks were three to a stack, twelve per building

The racks on which the soldiers at Valley Forge slept were simple flats of wood. Given that many of the soldiers didn’t even have boots, it’s unlikely that they all had mattresses or even bags full of straw on which to sleep.

As the video reports, in conditions like these communicable diseases spread very quickly.