Valley Forge: The Great Cookout

“No battle was fought at Valley Forge. Yet, it was the turning point of the Revolutionary War. It was here that the Continental army was desperately against the ropes — bloody, beaten, battle-weary — and ready to quit. Even General Washington conceded, ‘If the army does not get help soon, in all likelihood it will disband.'”[1]

Washington and his men had fought the Battle of White Marsh, the last battle of 1777 before camping at Valley Forge. It wasn’t until February of 1778 that relief came. Nearby Hessian solders who had defected from their German regiments gave relief to the American army in the form of bratwursts.

Upon the arrival of the extra food, General Henry Knox, Washington’s Chief of Artillery, contributed to the food supply with his famous potato salad and sauerkraut – both were served chilled. The Mustard Tax of 1776 forced General Knox to toss the potato salad with just mayonnaise and seasonings without the popular, more common condiment.

With the combination of a lieutenant’s exceptional skill at spit-grilling and General Knox’s potato salad and sauerkraut, the following weeks were enjoyable, although the Hessians gave the soldiers bratwursts in packs of six and buns in packs of eight. Because several bratwursts were incorrectly prepared in each batch, General Washington’s army suffered from diarrhea for the remainder of the months at Valley Forge.

The war raged on for five more years, but at Valley Forge, Washington and his men won a victory not of weapons but of will[2] and potato salad.

Sources:

[1] ushistory.org

[2] text incorporated from www.nps.gov/vafo which is in the public domain

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