Soldier at Valley Forge

In the winter of 1777, about 12,000 men in Gen. George Washington's Continental Army, having recently suffered losses in two key battles and having lost Philadelphia to the British, set up camp for the winter in a place where they could keep an eye on the British, but not be caught off guard. They also needed more training.

According to the National Park Service, "Washington had to balance the Continental Congress's wish for some type of winter campaign aimed at dislodging the British from the capital [Philadelphia] against the needs of his weary and poorly supplied army. By mid-December [1777], he had decided to encamp at Valley Forge.

"From this location, twenty miles northwest of Philadelphia, the army was close enough to maintain pressure on the British yet far enough away to prevent a surprise attack. While the solders who entered camp on December 19, 1777 were not well-supplied, they were not downtrodden."

Over the course of that winter, more than 2,000 American soldiers died, mainly of disease. For every solider who died in battle, 10 died from disease. In large part, that was because most of the soldiers were poorly supplied and poorly nourished. But it was not because they were cold: Many of them died in the warmer spring months that followed the harsh winter.

By early summer of 1778, with a new alliance with the French locked down, the Americans were ready to take on the British. On June 28, 1778, at the Battle of Monmouth, in New Jersey, Washington's troops defeated the British.

As part of Road Trip 2010, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman stopped Monday at Valley Forge, located in Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia. It was nearly 100 degrees in the sun, nothing like the frigid winter conditions Washington's men encountered. Still, Terdiman got a sense for what the beautiful encampment was like.

Seen here, a Continental Army "soldier" ponders his next move. Enactors are regularly on site to entertain visitors.

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Washington's quarters

Although enlisted men lived up to 12 to a hut, Gen. Washington had much more comfortable digs. This is the renovated building where Washington and his family lived during his army's time at Valley Forge.

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Log huts

These huts are representative of the cabins that Washington's Continental Army spent the winter of 1777 living in. The soldiers made the log cabins themselves and were given incentives to build quickly. Washington offered monetary rewards to the groups of men that could construct them the fastest.

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Tomb of the Unknown soldiers

This memorializes the unknown Continental Army soldiers who are buried at Valley Forge. All told, more than 2,000 men died while the army was encamped there in the winter of 1777, yet most died from disease--not battle, cold, or starvation.

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Virginia

This plaque memorializes soldiers from Virginia who spent the winter encamped at Valley Forge.

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Porsche

On Road Trip 2010, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman is road-testing a 2010 Porsche Panamera S. Here, the Panamera is seen in front of the Valley Forge National Park entrance sign.

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Officers' quarters

While as many as 12 enlisted men lived in one log hut, officers had it a bit more comfy. This is a representation of officers quarters at Valley Forge.

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Enlisted hut

This is a representation of an enlisted men's hut. Although this one appears to have cots for just eight men, they lived sometimes 12 to a hut.

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Field bake oven

Once the army arrived at Valley Forge, it was time to start building camp ovens, like this one, a representation of what was used in 1777. The crafting of the baking ovens was overseen by bakers.

"The heart of the oven was a set of portable iron plates which teamsters transported to the site," according to the National Park Service. "Workers then assembled the oven and placed it onto an earthen mound. The dirt mound both insulated the oven and placed it at a proper working height."

One the ovens got going, they would be used around the clock so that the bakers could make thousands of pounds of bread a day. On average, the National Park Service says, the soldiers consumed bread using 84,000 pounds a day of flour.

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Guard huts

Washington's personal guard had huts next to his quarters. Washington demanded that his guard be comprised only of natural-born Americans, to ensure their loyalty to the war cause.

They lived on a hillside, just adjacent to Washington's quarters.

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Office

Inside Washington's quarters, he worked in this office. The room is now set up to represent what it likely looked like when he worked there.

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Aide-de-camp

This tiny bedroom belonged to Washington's aide-de-camp, and the small bed was actually a field-ready roll-up.

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Attic

The attic at the top of Washington's quarters.

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Dressing room

A dressing room in Washington's quarters.

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The bedroom

This is a representation of Washington's bedroom, inside his quarters at Valley Forge.

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Soldiers goods

At Valley Forge, the National Park Service employs enactors dressed as Continental Army soldiers would have been. Here, we see what a soldier would have with him and what he would consume on an average day.

According to the National Park Service, a soldier was allotted one-and-a-quarter pounds a day of beef or salt fish or one pound of pork, one-and-a-quarter pounds of soft bread or flour or one pound of hard bread.

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Arch

This is the National Memorial Arch, located at Valley Forge. It was dedicated in 1917 and remembers the "patience and fidelity" of the Continental Army soldiers who spent the winter of 1777 there, according to the National Park Service.

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Pennsylvania Columns

These are the Pennsylvania Columns, at Valley Forge National Historic Park, which commemorate soldiers from Pennsylvania who were encamped there during the harsh winter of 1777.

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Washington Chapel

This is Washington Chapel, an early-20th century church that is on private property within the boundaries of Valley Forge National Historic Park. It was built to commemorate Washington's national service.

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Anthony Wayne

Inside Valley Forge, this is a statue of Anthony Wayne, who was a brigadier general in the Continental Army from February 1777 until November 1783.

On the statue, a plaque includes these words: "Resolved unanimously that the thanks of Congress be presented to...Wayne for his brave, prudent and soldierly conduct in the spirited and well conducted attack on Stony Point."

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Von Steuben statue

Washington turned the training of his Valley Forge troops over to Prussian volunteer, Maj. Gen. Friedrich Wilhelm Baron von Steuben, who molded the troops over that harsh winter and helped get them ready to fight the following spring.

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The forge

Near Washington's quarters is this forge.

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