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The Darkest Morning


Washington's Headquarters - Valley Forge

Americas Christian History - history unveiledHave you ever wondered why they make so much of Valley Forge?  Did great victories follow the winter Washington’s army spent there?  Perhaps this was the turning point in the war.  Or maybe the war was almost ended. Why do historians revere Valley Forge?  It was, and is, only a small place located near Philadelphia, where the "blackest night" had been preceded by a very dark morning.  The winter of 1778 wasn’t a pleasant place to be.


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The wind is cold and piercing on the old Gulf Road, and the snowflakes have begun to fall.  Who is this that toils up yonder hill, his footsteps stained with blood?  "His bare feet peep through his worn-out shoes, his legs nearly naked from the tattered remains of an only pair of stockings, his breeches not enough to cover his nakedness, his shirt hanging in strings, his hair disheveled, 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....and the ruts of the rough country road are deep and frozen hard.  A fourth comes into view, and still another.... (M)ore... come....  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. (Henry Armitage Brown, 1878)


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.... Cold... and Hunger enter their constant guest; Disease shall infest.., and Famine stand guard....  (But) 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!


While this was going on Providence was at work.  Amazingly, this was the very time the colonies were called by Congress to a day of thanksgiving!


The first national Thanksgiving was written by the "Father of the American Revolution" at its turning point, translating an ancient regional custom into America’s most beloved tradition sanctified by the sufferings of Washington’s army outside Valley forge.


As the army at Valley Forge was preparing for their winter trial-and survival, Congress’ proclamation reached Washington who, on December 17th, issued the following order:


Tomorrow being the day set apart by the Honorable Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling us devoutly to express our grateful acknowledgments to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us, the General directs that the army remain in its present quarters, and that the Chaplains perform divine service with their several Corps and Brigades.  And earnestly exhorts, all officers and soldiers, whose absence is not indispensably necessary, to attend with reverence the solemnities of the day.


Although they didn’t learn of it until February 6th, 1778, it was on this very day when Washington and his army were honoring God with their Thanksgiving that France signed the treaty.

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