Valley Forge was the site of Washington encampment during the winter of 1777 and 1778. The army of 10,000 soldiers had to make their own huts. Food and clothing were scarce. About one-fourth of the troops died, and a smallpox epidemic made matters worse. The British, on the other hand, had quite nice conditions in Philadelphia. The arrival of Baron von Steuben and his drilling techniques strengthened the army, and they experienced battle success by June. Children could read more about Valley Forge and take a quiz at: Valley Forge. Children could also read the wonderful book The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, by Dorothea Jensen. It portrays the horrors of the Revolutionary War and the conditions of Valley Forge through the eyes of two adolescents.
General Washington and his army secretly crossed the Delaware River in 1776 and surprised the British troops in Trenton. The American victory was a milestone in the Revolutionary War. A number of children’s books have been written about the event. Lynne Cheyney’s When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots is an excellent book. They can visit the Washington Crossing State Park site at: Washington Crossing.
George Taylor, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, died in Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1781. He was born in Ireland, probably during 1716. He also helped the cause of the Revolutionary War because his forge produced grapeshot, cannonballs, and cannons. Idea: Children could find out how grapeshot and cannonballs were made.
Crispus Attucks Day harkens back to the Revolutionary War in 1770. The Boston Massacre occurred in 1770 between colonists and British soldiers. Crispus Attucks, possibly a fugitive slave, was the first person killed in the fight. Several other men died, and others were wounded. Children can learn more about the Boston Massacre and Crispus Attucks at: America’s Library.
Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. Great Britain and the United States signed the treaty, formally ending the Revolutionary War and recognizing the United States as an independent country. The negotiators for the United States were John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple. Benjamin West’s painting Treaty of Paris (shown here) displays the five American negotiators. The painting was never completed because the British refused to be included. At least one copy of the treaty is housed in the National Archives. Children can read a transcript of the treaty at: Treaty of Paris.
First United States lighthouse, located on Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor, started operating in 1716. It was attacked by both the Americans and the British during the Revolutionary War. The “new” lighthouse was constructed on the same location in 1783. A National Historic Landmark, it continues to work today. Children can learn more at: First Lighthouse.
Battle of Yorktown commenced in 1781. George Washington and 17,000 American and French troops laid siege against General Cornwallis and 9,000 British soldiers in Yorktown at the mouth of the Chesapeake. French ships cut off his retreat into the bay. Cornwallis surrendered three weeks later on October 17, 1781. Yorktown was the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.
Yorktown Day marks the surrender of General Lord Cornwallis and his troops to George Washington in 1781. This surrender virtually ended the Revolutionary War. No other major battles occurred after this date, and the official peace agreement, the Treaty of Paris, was signed September 3, 1783. Children can learn more at: Yorktown Day.
George III became King of Great Britain in 1760. His actions probably contributed to the start of the Revolutionary War. At one point he almost abdicated. He experienced periods of dementia, and from 1811 until his death in 1820 the country was actually run by his son. Children could read Jean Fritz’s Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?