Saturday Morning History Chat: Surviving the Winters: Housing Washington’s Army During the American Revolution
Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Co-hosted by the Historical Society of Plainfield / Drake House Museum and Plainfield Public Library
During the American Revolution, Patriot soldiers began the war with inadequate housing for operations in the field as well as winter quarters. Their health and morale suffered accordingly. In this talk, Steven Elliott examines 18th-century military housing practices, refinements in military camp administration, and how army officers sought and obtained lodging for themselves and their men. Decisions regarding military shelters greatly affected strategy, logistics, and social relationships within the army and the civilian populations they encountered.
Using official military correspondence, orderly books, diaries, memoirs, civilian damage claims, and archaeological studies, Elliott argues that developments in military shelters formed a crucial yet overlooked component of Continental strategy. The encampment at Valley Forge became a turning point in winter quartering strategies. This complex of hastily-built timber huts provided cover for Patriot troops from the winter of 1777-1778. From the lessons learned at Valley Forge, this practice continued through the end of the war. An innovation in the art of war, the log-hut city provided accommodations secure from enemy attack for thousands of soldiers—at little cost to the government and little inconvenience to civilians. This made a decisive contribution to the success of the Continental Army’s war effort. Elliott’s book, “Surviving the Winters: Housing George Washington’s Army During the American Revolution” (University of Oklahoma Press) was released in March 2021.
There will be time for a Q&A following the presentation.
This history program is supported, in part, by a 2021 History, Education, Arts Reaching Thousands (HEART) Grant from the Union County Board of Commissioners.