Simon & Schuster

1. Valley Forge was not the coldest winter of the Revolution

Yes, 250 years of illustrations have portrayed a Continental Army perpetually snowbound in its winter encampment. Yet historical records confirm that the winter of 1777-1778 was fairly mild by southeast Pennsylvania standards, with the mercury dropping into single digits only twice. It is true that nearly 2,000 soldiers died at Valley Forge, many from exposure, but this was more the result of an almost criminal lack of food and clothing, with disease completing the truly miserable picture. Entire regiments were without shoes, and foreign observers arriving at camp were astounded to see naked and barefoot American sentries manning guard posts wrapped only in tattered blankets.

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