Valley Forge Decision: Army Morale Research Paper

Valley Forge Decision A cold wind blows around my small cramped cabin at Valley Forge. I can hear the rapid breathing of the other soldiers as they try to keep warm. My 9 month term ends in just a few days. I joined the army after hearing about the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Of course, the army wasn’t even created until 1775. I have decided not to reenlist into the army. I have decided to leave for three main reasons. The first is that the living conditions of the camp are awful. My second reason is the fact that the army’s morale is low. The third reason is the high death count.

I value my life and do not wish to die. The year is 1778. Five years ago the Sons of Liberty organized a protest called the Boston Tea Party. This rebellious act is what inspired me to join the army. The Continental Army won the skirmish at Trenton. We also won the battle at Princeton. The British army has taken control of Philadelphia. We needed to keep an eye on them so we set up camp here in Valley Forge. Valley Forge is a small camp that Washington’s army set up for the winter. It is 18 miles from Philadelphia. Most men in the army are staying for only 9 months.

Few are staying longer. I have enlisted for a nine month term also. My first reason for not re-enlisting is camp conditions. The living conditions in camp are awful. Our sleeping conditions are just as bad. “There were no beds, just straw on the floor. ” (Roden 141) We stay indoors most of the time. Our fires had very little ventilation. Smoke was always in the huts and is one of the major problems. (Roden 141) We barely have enough room to lie down. “Each hut was 16′ by 14′ with a door on one end. ” (Roden 141) Twelve men sleep in each of the huts.

We have no clean clothes and the food is foul. (Waldo 151) The camp is smelly, dirty, gross,understocked, and full of germs. This reason is causing me to not re-enlist because I cannot endure these conditions any longer. The second reason is the low camp morale. Most of the soldiers in camp are feeling hopeless. Many think this war is pointless and don’t want to fight. “There is a hundred more times enthusiasm for this revolution… in Paris then there is in all the United States together. ” (Roden 141) It doesn’t help that there are many rumors about Washington’s relationship with Congress.

I heard some soldiers talking about how “Washington’s own position was uncertain”. (Roden 141) We had some hope that the French would come to help us. Now many think that the French will not come. (Roden 141) I had a conversation with the camp surgeon, Dr. Waldo, and he told me that he was low on humor. (Waldo 151) Even the doctors are feeling hopeless! This reason is causing me to leave because I don’t want to help a cause that does not believe in itself. The final reason I will not re-enlist is all the death and sickness.

I was talking to a doctor the other day and he told me that as of “December 23, 1777, 2,898” out of 12,000 soldiers were sick. (Busch 147) There was already a fairly high chance of sickness and we only arrived earlier that year. The doctor also told me that as of “December 1777 1,800” people died from sickness. (Busch 147) This means that if you got sick there was a 2 in 3 chance you would die. Waldo also told me that the army had been very healthy until now, when all of a sudden, there was a massive outbreak of diseases. (Waldo 151) Some of the soldiers were so sick they could barely stand. Powell 149)

This is one reason I will not re-enlist because I value my life, and I won’t be helping my country much if I am dead. Although some people do want to stay in the army. I can see why they would want to stay. Staying makes sense because now the weather is warmer so it’s not as bad in camp. However it is still really cold and the death rate is still increasing. Therefore I still think that leaving was the best decision. Thave decided not to re-join the army because the camp conditions here are awful, the moral is low, and the death rate is high.

The camp is so dirty and contaminated that the sickness will just keep getting worse. Also there is very little food and our sleeping quarters were small and cramped. The army’s morale is a problem because if no-one thinks we will win, then we probably will not. Many soldiers have died because of the sickness, cold weather, and from lack of food. I will not be much good to our country if I am dead. I have decided to leave because I don’t think I will be helping anyone if I die here doing nothing in the snow when my family needs me to provide for them and protect them.