The Winter that Won the War:
The Winter Encampment at Valley Forge, 1777–1778

by Phillip S. Greenwalt
Savas Beatie, 2021
192 pp.; 150 images, 10 maps
ISBN: 978-1-61121-493-2
(click here to order)

About the Book

“An Army of skeletons appeared before our eyes naked, starved, sick and discouraged.”

Gouverneur Morris recorded these words in his report to the Continental Congress after a visit to the Continental Army encampment at Valley Forge. Sent as part of a fact-finding mission, Morris and his fellow congressmen arrived to conditions far worse than they had initially expected.

After a campaigning season that saw the defeat at Brandywine, the loss of Philadelphia, the capital of the rebellious British North American colonies, and the reversal at Germantown, George Washington and his harried army marched into Valley Forge on December 19, 1777.

What transpired in the next six months prior to the departure from the winter cantonment on June 19, 1778 was truly remarkable. The stoic Virginian, George Washington solidified his hold on the army and endured political intrigue, the quartermaster department was revived with new leadership from a former Rhode Island Quaker, and a German baron trained the army in the rudiments of being a soldier and military maneuvers.

Valley Forge conjures up images of cold, desperation, and starvation. Yet Valley Forge also became the winter of transformation and improvement that set the Continental Army on the path to military victory and the fledgling nation on the path to independence.

In The Winter that Won the War: The Winter Encampment at Valley Forge, 1777-1778, historian Phillip S. Greenwalt takes the reader on campaign in the year 1777 and through the winter encampment, detailing the various changes that took place within Valley Forge that ultimately led to the success of the American cause. Walk with the author through 1777 and into 1778 and see how these months truly were the winter that won the war.

About the Author:

Phillip S. Greenwalt is co-founder of Emerging Revolutionary War and a long-time contributor to Emerging Civil War. Phillip is co-author, with Rob Orrison, of the Emerging Revolutionary War Series book A Single Blow: The Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Beginning of the American Revolution. In the Emerging Civil War Series, he is the co-author of Bloody Autumn: The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864, Hurricane from the Heavens: The Battle of Cold Harbor, and Calamity in Carolina: The Battles of Averasboro and Bentonville (all three with Daniel Davis). Phillip graduated from George Mason University with a M.A. in American History and also has a B.A. in history from Wheeling Jesuit University. He currently works for the National Park Service.


The Winter that Won the War does not disappoint. It is a succinct history that summarizes the major events and characters that molded the American army into the fighting machine that eventually won the war. It is is a must-read for anyone wanting an overview of the American army at Valley Forge.” — Collected Miscellany

The Winter that Won the War also includes:

Ten maps by Edward Alexander
Four appendices:

  • “To the Last Extremity: Defense of the Delaware River” by Phillip S. Greenwalt
  • “The Winter Encampment at Wilmington” by Travis Shaw
  • “But What Can’t Brave Americans Endure: The Soldiers of the Continental Army” by Phillip S. Greenwalt
  • “American Gethsemane: Valley Forge in American Memory” by Mark Maloy