All photos of Valley Forge in this blog post were taken by Susan Knight, except for the photo of Washington's Headquarters. They may be shared, with credit, but not sold. Click on them to enlarge.
Command of the court-martialed Stephen’s division was turned over to Peter Muhlenberg, a Lutheran minister from Woodstock, Shenandoah County, Virginia. The First, Fifth, Ninth and Thirteenth Virginia regiments were assigned to Muhlenberg, along with the First and Second Virginia State Regiments and a German Regiment.
The First Virginia was placed under the command of Colonel Richard Parker. Benjamin Lemaster served under Parker for the duration of his service in the army.
The First Virginia Regiment was part of Muhlenberg’s Brigade under Lord Stirling’s Division and entered Valley Forge with 237 men, 94 fit for duty. It left Valley Forge with 507 men and 281 fit for duty.
And, serendipity for the Lemaster brothers, Benjamin's brother Joseph, in the 13th Virginia Regiment, was also assigned to Muhlenberg's Brigade. They got to see each other every day (I assume). It is sweet to think that the two "boys," ages 21 and 19, dealt with the harsh winter together, no doubt buoying up each other in the crisis, sharing letters from home, and reminiscing of their life in Maryland and Virginia before the war.
Joseph Lemaster's son, John Waddell Lemaster, named his first son Marcus Lafayette Lemaster (a play on Marquis perhaps?), which makes me wonder how many times he heard his father tell stories about being in the company of the Marquis de Lafayette. Lafayette was only 19 years old himself in 1777, like Joseph Lemaster, when he joined with Washington—as a volunteer Major General (?!?). He also fought in the Battle of Brandywine along with the Lemaster boys. You can read more about this amazing young man, who considered George Washington his adopted father, HERE.
Joseph Lemaster's regiment left Valley Forge in May 1778 and headed west for Pittsburgh. The boys would meet again when they both mustered out of the army, Benjamin in 1779 and Joseph in 1780.
As the result of this mild winter, the most common killers in camp were influenza, typhoid, pneumonia, dysentery, and typhus.
The Pennsylvania winter, with freezing, thawing, and freezing again, and the light snow which gave little snow melt for water, caused waves of illness and many deaths. Most men died during the warmer months from March to May. An inoculation program, and camp sanitation, eventually helped limit the death tolls.
Discouraged soldiers deserted in great numbers. Mutiny was feared. All Washington had to do was mention that he would “retire” to his plantation and all murmuring would stop.
Though many soldiers had a full uniform, shortages of clothing did cause severe hardship for a number of the men. I often wonder if my Benjamin suffered due to lack of clothing and shoes. After all, he came to the war with only the clothes on his back and his musket (or rifle—whichever he had).
|Only a muslin shirt. |
I wonder if this is what Benjamin wore,
or if he was lucky enough to have a wool coat like the man behind this one.
|Hut at Muhlenberg encampment at present-day Valley Forge, Pennsylvania|
|Hut at present-day Muhlenberg encampment where the reenactments take place.|
|This is the inside of an officer's hut. It only has one bed.|
Perhaps the Marquis de Lafayette had a hut like this.
He insisted on living in the midst of his men.
|This hut holds 12 people--4 bunks in each quarter|
I call top!
|Inside an enlisted men's cabin. How cozy.|
-What more does a man need?-
Maybe food and clothing . . .
When I was there in 2010, I saw an earthen oven in the Muhlenberg encampment where the park ranger said they made their daily bread. Coals were spread along the ground for cooking purposes. Though they probably had to keep with their own regiments, I imagine to myself the two brothers making and breaking bread together.
Those in camp came from all thirteen of the original states. Men, women and children, all different ethnicities and religions came together at Valley Forge. Women helped immensely with laundry, mending, cooking, and nursing the sick men.
As part of Benjamin Lemaster’s Pension Statement, in 1835, an Andrew P. Friend swore before the Justice of the Peace in support of his pension as a “Revolution soldier of the United States.” According to Friend’s best recollection: “. . . he knew the said Benjamin Lamasters of Nicholas County to have been in the army that he the said [Peter] McCune & Benjamin Lamaster had both their washing done By one Woman for some time.”
Women and children, who made up the “camp followers,” suffered the deprivations along with the soldiers. Women got half pay (half of what the soldiers received) and children, if they worked hard, got quarter pay.
|Yes, even cute little boys like this served at Valley Forge.|
This little guy is only 10 years old.
|It took really long to load and fire. I was really surprised. |
They only got one shot, then had to reload again.
June 15, 1778--Benjamin Lemaster turned twenty-two years old as they prepared to leave Valley Forge.
June 19, 1778--Washington’s men marched from Valley Forge to Philadelphia and retook the city. By the Battle of Monmouth, nine days later, the army demonstrated a more mature and improved expertise on the field of battle. Victory achieved.
I was able to look up Sergeant Lemaster on the computer at the Valley Forge Visitor Center and noted he was in the Muhlenberg regiment—the exact place where they have cabins to show tourists what it was like, and where they have their reenactments. It was the first area near the visitor’s center. Serendipity.
|First Virginia Regiment, under Colonel James Hendricks.|
In the history I have, it says he served under Colonel Parker, so I'm not sure
how the regiments were broken up. Some research for another day.
|As you drive around the park, you will see various monuments |
erected by the States whose soldiery participated at Valley Forge.
This is the Virginia monument.
Click on it to enlarge.
|Washington's Headquarters in the bottom of the valley.|
(This is the only photo I took from the internet.
I couldn't believe I failed to get a photo of the front of the house.
|It isn't hard to envision the hubbub that took place in this room every day.|
|Martha Washington was here too.|
(And I have a table cloth made of that same blue material.)
|Martha, as hostess, oversaw the kitchen, the food preparation, and the guests.|
I'm sure she was a great comfort to her husband as well.
|In the breezeway. Original.|
|View from the back of the big brownstone house.|
There were 2,000 log cabins built all over the acreage.
|Everywhere I drove, I saw cabins tucked in the woods, each one representing hundreds of others, I imagine.|
|I also saw a few small herds of deer as I drove around.|
|This cannon, near the top of Mt. Joy, is still aimed at Philadelphia, 25 miles away.|