Valley Forge park commemorates March Out of the Continental Army

George Matlack explains some of the historical background to the March Out of the Continental Army at Valley Forge National Historical Park Saturday, June 14, 2014. Photo by Adrianna Hoff/21st Century Media

UPPER MERION — Dozens gathered Saturday afternoon at Valley Forge National Historical Park to commemorate the departure of the Continental Army from the Valley Forge encampment in June 1778.

The informative tour, known officially as the Annual March Out of the Continental Army Commemoration and led by park rangers and volunteers, covered the lives of the soldiers at Valley Forge and their pursuit of the British Army after breaking camp.

To those who participated, it was important to keep the history alive and share it with visitors to the park.

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“I think it’s important because people really know about Valley Forge as part of our national heritage, but they don’t necessarily know a lot of the details about it,” Ranger Sara Karpinski said. “The army struggled, but when they were marching out on June 19th, 1778, they were actually in pretty decent shape and were doing really well, so that transformation is something that we really like to stress and we think it’s something people should know about.”

Karpinski stressed, however, there is a fun side to reenactment.

“It’s fun to get out and be out of my uniform and live the old lifestyle. To feel what the clothing was like, what the equipment was, that’s really special.”

The tour had a unique beginning for visitors, who were taught to build a formation as the soldiers of 1778 did when preparing for battle. It was their chance to re-enact some history of their own.

The next station presented the life of a soldier and a soldier’s life off the battlefield. Women were introduced during this segment, and their value in battle was explained.

The crowd soaked up the information as the Revolutionary lifestyle was introduced.

After some hiking, the tour concluded with a discussion of the Battle of Monmouth, N.J., which took place just 10 days after the March Out. The afternoon ended with a bang, quite literally, as seven soldiers lined up in formation and fired their muskets.