The encampment at Valley Forge took place from December 19, 1777 through June 19, 1778 and served as winter quarters for General George Washington‘s Continental Army. Having suffered a string of defeats that fall, including losing the capital of Philadelphia to the British, the Americans made camp for the winter outside of the city. While at Valley Forge, the army endured a chronic supply crisis but largely remained as well fed and clothed as it did during the previous campaigning season.
During the winter, it benefited from the arrival of Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben who implemented a new training regimen which transformed the men in the ranks from inexperienced amateurs into disciplined soldiers capable of standing up against the British. When Washington’s men departed in June 1778, they were an improved army from the one that had arrived months earlier.
On Christmas Night December 25th Washington’s army crossed the Delaware River and attacked the Hessian Garrison at Trenton. That morning of the 26th December 1776 was the Continental Army’s first victory capturing 900 Hessian prisoners.
After eight years of war Washington returned to Mount Vernon on Christmas 1783 after resigning his commission to Congress in Annapolis, Maryland. The Dove of Peace Weather Vane sits atop the Mount Vernon Cupola.