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February 3, 2021

VALENTINE FROM VALLEY FORGE (Schuylkill Valley Encampment; February, 1778)

Dearest Beloved,

This letter, penned with nature still enwrapped in winter’s shawl,

Might reach your hands by April, should it reach your hands at all.

Your parcel came this morning, now I take the time tonight,

Before I sleep, to correspond with you by candlelight.


Our troops look less an army than a ragged band of thieves;

We’ve gone without supplies now since the falling of the leaves.

My old shirt hung in tatters, yet I wore it as it was.

I thank you for the new one; kindness is as kindness does.


The season dawdles cruelly on the icy road to spring,

So please excuse my penmanship, like strands of knotted string,

My script becomes a scribble as the temperature goes down.

I haven’t yet replaced the gloves I lost at Germantown.


Some days it makes me wonder if we’re merely grasping straws.

At times, I must admit, I have my doubts about our Cause.

I’m staying till it’s finished though; I want that understood.

It may not make a difference, but it does my conscience good.


I’m not the one who named these hills; it’s no romantic ploy

To say I stand between the heights of Misery and Joy.

But don’t you get to thinking I’m all misty-eyed and such.

I only want to tell you that I miss you very much.


I pray this letter finds you well, at peace and safe from harm.

New Hampshire nights can be as cold as any witch’s charm.

It’s cold in Pennsylvania, too. For warmth I must depend

On this new shirt and thoughts of you, my dearest, sweetest friend.


Your most affectionate,


First Troop, Philadelphia Light Horse

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