Valley Forge Headquarters orderly book  1778
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Valley Forge Headquarters orderly book (55 pages) contains the general orders and brigade orders issued from Continental Army headquarters at Valley Forge during winter encampment of January 20-February 22, 1778. An anonymous American officer, stationed at the "Head Quarters, Great Valley," recorded the orders. Each entry provides the signal, the names the field officers on duty, and the brigade major on duty. Later, the author made grammatical corrections to the volume.

Entries primarily concern disciplinary actions and courts-martial decisions for soldiers in Continental Army regiments. The most common crimes were stealing, drunken fights, and desertion attempts. The Commander-in-Chief, George Washington, is mentioned frequently, and on page 47 the author refers to General Washington by name. Orders also concern parade duty, officers' meetings, and rations and supplies. Brigade orders deal almost exclusively with alcohol use.

Two notable entries describe the role of women at Valley Forge:

  • "A report having circulated that Mr. Jones [D.C: of I. Jones] had granted a pass to a woman to carry 3 [lbs] of Butter Philadelphia, the Matter has been inquired into, and appears to be without foundation" (February 3, 1778).
  • "The most Pernicious consequences having arisen from persons, women in particular being allowed to pass & repass from Philadelphia to camp, under pretense of coming out to visit their friends in the army, & returning with necessities for their families, but, really, with an intent to intice the soldiers to desert...[officers must forbid] the soldiers, under the severest penalties, from having any communication with such persons" (February 4, 1778).

This volume holds a loose fragment containing brigade orders for August 23, 1777, and a list of men found guilty by a court-martial (located between pages 1-2).

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