Historic Valley Forge

Were the quarters and food the same for Generals and Privates? How much were they paid?

Q.Were the quarters and food the same for Generals and Privates? How much were they paid?
George White, San Dimas, CA

A.The quarters and provisions for officers and privates were usually different. Officers would usually be quartered in better equipped facilities. Sometimes these differences could amount to the number of men quartered there. The huts at Valley Forge held up to 12 men. This would have been different for those at a higher rank — there would be fewer men and more space for officers. The Commander in Chief and his generals were housed in actual homes. These were the houses of various inhabitants of the area: warmer, certainly "homier" and with the "modern amenities" of the day. Food, or rations, would have been similar. Very often the army would all be eating the same thing, however your rank decided how many rations you received. A soldier was entitled to a single ration (equalling three meals). Officers were authorized extra. This was not always the case, however. When no provisions were available, the entire army went without. Rations would consist of beef, pork or salt fish; bread (or flour); peas, beans or vegetables; milk, rice, Indian meal; beer or cider; molasses; candles; soft and hard soap; and rum and whiskey was also authorized, however rarely issued.

Both British and American soldiers were severely underpaid. The high rate of inflation led to even more problems. Rates varied tremendously. For example, in 1775, Massachusetts Militia Privates were issued $36 a lunar month. Privates in the Continental Army were issued $6.67 per calendar month. Privates in the artillery, cavalry and militia received the grand sum of $8.33. Early on in the war, various officers on the scale ... ensigns, lieutenants and captains received from $10-$20. Throughout the war, these wages would increase. Inflation, however, dogged the army, enough that it created a huge morale problem which Washington had to deal with. It would be difficult to give exact figures for officers and soldiers pay because there is such a disparity in the totals. The above figures give you a general idea.

Washington did not draw pay for his eight years as the Commander in Chief. He submitted his expenses at the end of the war.


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