Paul’s Perambulations

March 25, 2012

Those in power write the history to suit their purpose.

Filed under: Education,Peace,Politics — admin @ 2:35 am

Back from a hike with Fran through Valley Forge. As an historical symbol, Valley Forge has always been a bit of a stretch for me, comparable to using a cracked Quaker bell to represent the Declaration of Independence. It was Washington’s winter quarters for one winter of the war, with the greatest loss of life arising from disease in the warmer spring weather due to unsanitary conditions at the encampment (there were no battle casualties). I noticed that the story of Valley Forge has changed from what I once was told. I had heard how the militias from the various states gathered to serve their country under very difficult circumstances. There was the heroic image of “here once the embattled farmer stood” for freedom and democracy. Now I read in the official brochure how “,,,the militia-type system of short term enlistments could not compete against the British…Congress allowed General Washington to recruit soldiers for three years or the duration of the war. In return for such arduous service Congress offered land bounties and monetary bonusesa standing army that fought for the rest of the war…accounts speak of a skilled and capable force in charge of its own destiny…an accomplished group of professionals stood their ground.”

A key issue for Washington and the Founding Fathers was to avoid any standing professional army, in contradistinction to the British Empire.  We were volunteer citizen soldiers, pulled temporally away from the plow. Incidentally, these bonuses were paid in Continental currency and cost the government money they did not have, so that eventually the government defaulted on its debt to these soldiers. However, as professional soldiers registered for the duration of the war, they had no legal recourse and were not free to leave. But eventually the revolutionaries won at Yorktown, with the help of the French, and the war was over. Or, as the British and Europeans would say, the French won at Yorktown with the help of the revolutionaries, and the war was over. The solders eventually were paid with land that the government acquired by the Treaty of Paris.

So now it’s 2012 and visitors get a revised history touting the value of a professional standing army to win and defend our freedom. What a propaganda piece for our current endless war and the war on terrorism.


  1. Hmmm, interesting characterization. I guess I didn’t realize that a group of farmers huddled around fires, one by one freezing to death at night were professional anything.

    Comment by Will — April 3, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  2. How interesting. So U.S. war tactics haven’t really evolved insofar as developing/training land forces, although the hardware has. Does this differ from what other countries have done or are doing?

    Comment by K T. Adams — April 7, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

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