Dear friends and fellow patriots of Fellowship of the Minds:
You must be as heart sick as I am about our defeat yesterday — at a Clinton-appointee activist judge’s ruling against the state of Arizona’s immigration law. In times like this, like you, I also feel disheartened and discouraged. I am also quite burnt out from this daily blogging. So I am taking today, just today, off so that I can replenish my depleted energy and spirit. I hope you will do likewise, if you also need to, because we are in a political War of Attrition. Since our enemies do not sleep, we must be in the war for the long haul.
I will return tomorrow with my spirit refreshed and my resolve renewed to fight the good fight for our beloved country. I leave you with our Founding Father George Washington’s words to his men, written at the lowest point of the American Revolutionary War of Independence in Valley Forge.
On December 19, 1777, when Washington’s poorly fed, ill-equipped army, weary from long marches, struggled into Valley Forge, winds blew as the 12,000 Continentals prepared for winter’s fury. Soldiers received irregular supplies of meat and bread, some getting their only nourishment from “fire cake,” a tasteless mixture of flour and water. So severe were conditions at times that Washington despaired “that unless some great and capital change suddenly takes place … this Army must inevitably … Starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can.” Animals fared no better. Hundreds of horses either starved to death or died of exhaustion.
Clothing, too, was wholly inadequate. Long marches had destroyed shoes. Blankets were scarce. Tattered garments were seldom replaced. At one point these shortages caused nearly 4,000 men to be listed as unfit for duty. Undernourished and poorly clothed, living in crowded, damp quarters, the army was ravaged by sickness and disease. Typhoid, jaundice, dysentery, and pneumonia were among the killers that felled as many as 2,000 men that winter. Although Washington repeatedly petitioned for relief, the Congress was unable to provide it, and the soldiers continued to suffer.
General Washington had great concern and love for his troops. Tears streamed down my face as I read the real Commander-in-Chief’s words of encouragement. I hope you will take as much comfort from his words as I do.
God bless and be well,
Washington’s General Orders to the troops, Valley Forge Sunday, March 1, 1778:
The Commander in Chief again takes occasion to return his warmest thanks to the virtuous officers and soldiery of this Army for that persevering fidelity and Zeal which they have uniformly manifested in all their conduct. Their fortitude not only under the common hardships incident to a military life but also under the additional sufferings to which the peculiar situation of these States have exposed them, clearly proves them worthy of the enviable privilege of contending for the rights of human nature, the Freedom and Independence of their Country. The recent Instance of uncomplaining Patience during the scarcity of provisions in Camp is a fresh proof that they possess in an eminent degree the spirit of soldiers and the magnanimity of Patriots. The few refractory individuals who disgrace themselves by murmurs it to be hoped have repented such unmanly behaviour, and resolved to emulate the noble example of their associates upon every trial which the customary casualties of war may hereafter throw their way. Occasional distress for want of provisions and other necessaries is a spectacle that frequently occurs in every army and perhaps there never was one which has been in general so plentifully supplied in respect to the former as ours. Surely we who are free Citizens in arms engaged in a struggle for every thing valuable in society and partaking in the glorious task of laying the foundation of an Empire, should scorn effeminately to shrink under those accidents and rigours of War which mercenary hirelings fighting in the cause of lawless ambition, rapine and devastation, encounter with cheerfulness and alacrity, we should not be merely equal, we should be superior to them in every qualification that dignifies the man or the soldier in proportion as the motive from which we act and the final hopes of our Toils, are superior to theirs. Thank Heaven! our Country abounds with provision and with prudent management we need not apprehend want for any length of time. Defects in the Commissaries department, Contingencies of weather and other temporary impediments have subjected and may again subject us to a deficiency for a few days, but soldiers! American soldiers! will despise the meanness of repining at such trifling strokes of Adversity, trifling indeed when compared to the transcendent Prize which will undoubtedly crown their Patience and Perseverance, Glory and Freedom, Peace and Plenty to themselves and the Community; The Admiration of the World, the Love of their Country and the Gratitude of Posterity!
Your General unceasingly employs his thoughts on the means of relieving your distresses, supplying your wants and bringing you labours to a speedy and prosperous issue. Our Parent Country he hopes will second his endeavors by the most vigorous exertions and he is convinced the faithful officers and soldiers associated with him in the great work of rescuing our Country from Bondage and Misery will continue in the display of that patriotic zeal which is capable of smoothing every difficulty and vanquishing every Obstacle.
Excerpt from George Washington’s letter to Brigadier General John Glover, Valley Forge, February 18, 1778:
Excuse me Sir, if I hesitate to give my concurrence to the desire you express, of quitting the Army. I have too high an opinion of your value, as an Officer, to do any thing that may contribute to your relinquishing that Character. My earnest wish is, that you may continue in it. The spirit of resigning, which is now become almost epidemical, is truly painful and alarming. This spirit, prevailing among many of the best Officers, from various inducements, if persisted in, must deeply wound the common cause. You cannot but be convinced, the situation of the Army is such, that it can ill bear the loss of good Officers, and such would do well to consider how much they put to the hazard, by doing any thing to weaken the sinews of our contest, at so critical a time.
Source: The Valley Forge Historical Society.