The Valley Forge Winter Camp is one of the most famous events of the American Revolution. General George Washington’s six-month army camp was a significant turning point in the American War of Independence. However, even though, as a result, the continental army from various militias became a single disciplined resistance movement, several difficulties had to be overcome before that. The main problem of this historical episode is the living conditions of soldiers and the resulting lack of hygienic norms. The incorrect layout of the camp and the sanitary plan put the lives of all participants in the war at risk. This leads to the following fundamental problem – the high mortality rate, poor living conditions, and very low morale in the army. These two problems could have been avoided if it had been possible to set up a campsite in a more favorable landscape and create favorable living conditions.
In December 1777, Washington and his weary troops occupied Valley Forge after a series of military defeats. Washington and his men remained in the camp for about six months, from December 1777 to June 1778 (Hayes, 2017). The convenient strategic position of the base was entirely unsuitable for soldiers to live in. The trials for 12,000 soldiers, namely the searing cold, diseases, epidemics, and physical problems, show the importance of leadership, logistics, and support in the army. These diseases were the result of unsanitary conditions in the camp: prisoners lived in crowded places, ate dirty dishes, and animals were left to decompose in the ground. Washington offered a twelve-dollar bonus for the first well-built hut built in each regiment to shelter his soldiers as quickly as possible. The soldiers had produced more than nine hundred shelters by the last days of January, despite the limited rations; nevertheless, illnesses and ailments persisted (Hayes, 2017). The main actors here are George Washington and his army.
In this situation, an alternative could be improving military personnel’s housing conditions. If the terms were more livable, the soldiers would not freeze to death, would not get sick from unsanitary, and against this background, would not lose morale. However, during the war, the army had a low budget (Hayes, 2017). The prevailing majority of expenses went to arming American troops. Accordingly, Washington and Congress did not have enough funds to provide favorable conditions for soldiers.
There was more than once the practice of placing recruits in the squad before preparation (Hayes, 2017). Therefore, one of the critical solutions could be the professional training of the army. Strategic education of military personnel could prepare them for these harsh conditions. The survival skills would allow the Washington army to solve all the problems with accommodation and unsanitary terms at the root, which would significantly increase the survival rate of soldiers (Hatch, 2018). Thus, with the help of professional training, the head of the army could avoid the spread of unsanitary conditions in the camps and various infections and diseases, ensuring the survival of the soldiers and would not allow a decrease in morale.
Thus, specific strategies to achieve this goal, namely camp survival, should include army training. Leading thousands of soldiers, the general must be responsible for the army’s success on the battlefield and beyond. It becomes clear that the morale of military personnel plays a crucial role in achieving victory in the war. Accordingly, the high mortality rate in the camp from various diseases and sanitary conditions reduced this mood. In this sense, it was Washington that could ensure the prosperity of the army and its well-being.
Hatch, M. J. (2018). Organizational Theory: Modern, Symbolic, and Postmodern Perspectives. (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Hayes, K. J. (2017). George Washington: A Life in Books. Oxford University Press.