Valley Forge FAQs

St. Patrick's Day Brawl between Massachusetts and Virginia Lines

Q.Is there any truth to the story about the St. Patrick's Day Brawl between Massachusetts and Virginia Lines? It seems the Pennsylvania Line place a Leprechaun/Scarecrow in the company street of a Virginia regiment who blamed a Massachusetts regiment and a brawl erupted. Washington watched this and without saying a word, the men stopped the fight and went back to their cabins. (Source: Birthplace of an Army)
Bradley Finfrock, Graduate Student, Sterling, VA

A.Trussell in his "Birthplace" book cites a couple of sources for the story: "Washington at Valley Forge" by Theodore W. Bean and "Valley Forge" by Harry Emerson Wildes

John Stoudt also recounts the event in his "Ordeal at Valley Forge" under March 17, 1778

"Today a brawl developed between the various Pennsylvania Troops, German and Irish. The German troops rigged up a grotesque Paddym and displayed it in Camp. This caused the Irish to be indignant, but ascribing it to New England Troops, proceeded to wreak their vengeance upon them. His Excellency quashed it and ordered a grog for all."

Stoudt does not cite specifically where each of his statements come from in his book. It is a compilation of the various events — a daily record — from a number of sources. The account from Bean is not cited as well.

Trussell also relates in his book (p.107): "No contemporary records, official or otherwise, has been found to substanitate this story."

SAS, Courtesy The Valley Forge Historical Society

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