by Dr. Nancy Loane

Present But Not Accounted For: Women at the 1777-1778 Valley Forge Encampment

Over 400 women camped at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78. This presentation will introduce you to the women who traveled with the Continental Army, those with Washington’s military family, and the wives of the officers, such as Martha Washington, Lucy Knox, and Catharine Greene. Through the women at camp, you discover a Valley Forge encampment that you never knew existed.

The Surprising Martha Washington

Although she’s commonly thought of as rather frumpy, and as a lady who spent countless hours visiting the soldiers and knitting stockings  for the men, the truth about Lady Washington is far more interesting.  Martha Washington was a spiffy dresser, assertive, and definitely a woman of independent means. The varied activities of this “worthy partner” at the encampments during the Revolutionary War and throughout the presidential years may surprise you, too.

Baron de Steuben: The General who made the Army

Steuben was a portly foreigner who swore in five languages and wrote the first training manual of the Continental Army in French. He wore a big, twinkling silver star on his jacket and strutted around the Valley Forge encampment like he owned the place. Yet the Baron de Steuben was esteemed – even revered – by the Continental Army officers and rank and file alike. The personal story of Major General Frederick Wilhelm de Steuben is an American success story, and his contribution to the United States of America was revolutionary.  

Love Letters from Valley Forge

The officers at the Valley Forge encampment of 1777-78 were determined, courageous soldiers. Many of them were also lonesome, as beloved wives and cherished families had been left behind. Through the letters written from the officers to their wives at home, you’ll get to know these diverse officers and their wives, discover something of marriage in the 18th century, and develop a new perspective about life at the encampment. 

Click here to email the author at womenatvalleyforge@gmail.com
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"The very knowledgeable delivery made one feel that they, themselves, were back in time reliving history at the Valley Forge encampment." --  Reading PA Historical Society

"You gave us so much insight into Martha Washington. Everyone truly enjoyed." -- Bryn Mawr PA Questers

"It was wonderful to hear your talk. I enjoyed hearing the D.A.R. traditions, meeting the members and especially your talk on de Steuben." -- DAR meeting, PA

"Thank you so much for a most stirring and poignant speech at our event last night. We are truly thankful that you could attend and make such an impassioned speech that really helped set the tone for the night." -- Paoli PA Battlefield Fundraiser

"​I enjoyed your presentation at this year's Dinner and wondered if you would be available again?" -- Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge