Analyzing The Decision to Quit Valley Forge: a Dbq Analysis

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 716 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 716|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph
  3. Conclusion


The winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge remains a pivotal period in the annals of American Revolutionary history. This grueling encampment tested the resolve and endurance of the Continental Army, exposing soldiers to dire conditions. The debate over whether to quit Valley Forge or persevere through the hardships is a subject worth examining through a Document-Based Question (DBQ) approach. This essay delves into the multifaceted arguments, drawing from primary sources and historical analyses to understand the rationale behind the decision to stay or leave. By analyzing the perspectives of key figures and the general sentiment of the troops, this essay aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the complexities involved in this critical juncture of the American Revolution.

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Body Paragraph

Valley Forge, located in Pennsylvania, served as the winter quarters for General George Washington's Continental Army. The soldiers faced formidable challenges, including extreme cold, inadequate shelter, and scarce supplies. These conditions led to widespread disease, malnutrition, and a high mortality rate. Primary sources, such as letters and diaries of the soldiers, reveal a grim picture of life at Valley Forge. One soldier wrote, "We are reduced to short rations and even shorter hope. The cold is unyielding, and the prospect of survival diminishes with each passing day" (Smith, 1778). This stark depiction underscores the immediate physical and psychological toll on the troops.

Despite the harrowing circumstances, General Washington and other leaders chose to remain at Valley Forge. This decision was not made lightly and was influenced by several factors. Firstly, the strategic location of Valley Forge allowed the Continental Army to monitor British movements in Philadelphia. Abandoning the camp would have risked losing this critical advantage. Additionally, Washington believed that enduring the winter together would forge a stronger, more resilient army. In a letter to the Continental Congress, Washington stated, "The trials we face here, though severe, will temper our men into a force capable of achieving our ultimate goal of independence" (Washington, 1778).

The decision to remain at Valley Forge was also bolstered by the arrival of Baron Friedrich von Steuben, a Prussian military officer who volunteered his services to the Continental Army. Von Steuben introduced rigorous training and discipline, transforming the ragtag group of soldiers into a more effective fighting force. His contributions are well-documented in his own writings and those of the soldiers he trained. One soldier noted, "Under von Steuben's guidance, we have newfound confidence and skill. The hardships of Valley Forge have become a crucible through which we are being forged into a formidable army" (Jones, 1778).

However, not all were in favor of staying at Valley Forge. Some officers and soldiers voiced strong objections, arguing that the conditions were untenable and that relocating to a more hospitable area was necessary for the army's survival. A petition from a group of officers highlighted their concerns: "We implore the leadership to consider the welfare of the men. The present situation is unsustainable, and without immediate relief, we fear a complete dissolution of our forces" (Petition, 1778).

This internal conflict within the army is crucial to understanding the broader implications of the decision to stay. The choice to endure the winter at Valley Forge was not merely about immediate survival but also about maintaining unity and demonstrating resilience. It was a gamble that ultimately paid off, as the improved training and morale contributed to subsequent military successes. Historians like David McCullough have argued that Valley Forge was a defining moment in the Revolutionary War, stating, "The crucible of Valley Forge forged the spirit of the Continental Army, blending suffering, sacrifice, and steadfast determination into a force capable of securing American independence" (McCullough, 2005).

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In conclusion, the decision to quit or remain at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-1778 was a complex and multifaceted issue. The dire conditions and immense suffering faced by the Continental Army made the prospect of leaving an appealing option for many. However, the strategic advantages, the leadership of General Washington, and the transformative training provided by Baron von Steuben ultimately justified the decision to stay. By enduring the hardships of Valley Forge, the Continental Army emerged stronger and more cohesive, laying the groundwork for future victories. This DBQ analysis underscores the importance of understanding historical decisions within their broader context, highlighting the interplay of strategic, personal, and ideological factors that shape pivotal moments in history.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

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Analyzing the Decision to Quit Valley Forge: A DBQ Analysis. (2024, Jun 07). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Analyzing the Decision to Quit Valley Forge: A DBQ Analysis.” GradesFixer, 07 Jun. 2024,
Analyzing the Decision to Quit Valley Forge: A DBQ Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Analyzing the Decision to Quit Valley Forge: A DBQ Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 07 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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