This week we honor and remember all the veterans who risked their lives to keep America safe and free and the many who died in the service of their country.
We are also thinking about America’s future after the election landslide last week rejected the left’s policies (the most state legislative seats picked up by a political party in modern times— 682; the most House seats picked up by one party since 1932, big gains in the Senate and governorships).
This is the perfect time to introduce our new novel Valley Forge.
Valley Forge is the story of George Washington’s courage in the hardest winter of the Revolutionary War. It is also the story of a new army learning new techniques, new discipline, and new systems of command. Washington had come to realize that defeating the British Army would require an American Army that could stand and fight in a formal battle.
Americans rejected British rule on July 4, 1776. But in the following months, Washington learned painfully through a series of defeats that rejecting authority wasn’t enough; you had to replace it with a new and more effective authority. To this end, the American Army had to become better than the British Army. At Valley Forge, the entire cause of American liberty hung in the balance. Valley Forge describes the remarkable obstacles overcome by a band of patriots who first had to survive inhumane, harsh, and unimaginable conditions before they could face the British Army.
Washington’s Valley Forge Would Shock You
The National Park we can visit today is not the same Valley Forge General Washington and his men made camp in the winter of 1777 to 1778. The Valley Forge of Washington’s time would shock you. Imagine yourself issued on a bitterly cold December day a wool blanket not washed in several months, linen or canvas trousers, knees and backside in need of patching, shirt filth encrusted. Most of the clothing is already infested with lice and fleas, and typhus. If you’re lucky, you would be issued a pair of shoes. At least half of the Army had to make do with strips of canvas and burlap.
Food Was Scarce, the Weather Brutal
There was little food, maybe a bit of “Johnnie Cake” which was simply a batter of “whatever” poured out on a flat rock by an open fire. Nothing was there in that open windswept field. The forest is about a quarter mile away so the logs for a cabin had to be dropped, trimmed and dragged back by hand. Firewood, same thing.
The weather was awful: rain; freezing rain; sleet; and snow, which was actually welcomed after the rain. Hanging over everything was a stench of every foul smell one could ever imagine. The privy pit, if someone was thinking, was at least dug down wind. There was no cute looking wooden outhouse. We can skip the details of how soft the toilet paper was. A sergeant probably advised using paper money, which was about how much it is worth.
Survived for Six Months, then Faced the British
Now, consider enduring these conditions for five long months, through winter rains, snow, deep freezes, the calf deep mud of spring, and the increasingly hot days of approaching summer. For those who survived, the British Army waited. Forget all the foolishness you’ve ever seen in any movie about mocking the long, unbroken lines of marching British soldiers. This British system of lines had a purpose, to lay down rapid fire, in a compressed area to sweep the enemy from the field.
Americans had to march within sixty or so yards of that red line and then as trained, aim their muskets and start banging away. With friends getting torn apart on either side of you apart by .72 mm round balls of soft lead, the American soldier was expected to stand and deliver back.
This was the cruel reality for General Washington and his soldiers.
Never Forget Their Sacrifice
Without the sacrifices of these Americans at Valley Forge, there would be no Declaration of Independence, no Constitution.
We honor and remember them and all Veterans this week.
American Moving Ahead
In the months ahead, America will move in a new direction. To succeed, conservatives cannot simply reject the left’s vision. As I will make clear in a speech Thursday night at the International Policy Institute in Dallas, the conservative movement now faces the challenge of replacing the left’s vision rather than merely rejecting it. The struggle at Valley Forge led to the defeat of the British, and then to General Washington and his fellow founding fathers replacing tyranny with the Constitution.
Today, our charge is not just to stop those who would take away our freedom, but to provide leadership that preserves it.
- In his piece posted at Renewing American Leadership, Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation examines why America is an exceptional nation: a strong military, a productive economy, and the hardworking, religious population. Read it here.
- At ReAL Action, listen to the “Defeating Nonviolent Jihad” podcast in which David J. Rusin discusses the trends in combating nonviolent jihad, or stealth jihad, and its implications for the future. You can listen to this clip here.
- On Monday Nov. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a preliminary challenge to President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul. In an exclusive to Health Reform Report, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli discusses Virginia’s lawsuit against the constitutionality of the healthcare law and the individual mandate. Read more here.