Historic Valley Forge

What did soldiers do for recreation

Q.What did soldiers do for recreation
Grant Larson, Eden Valley-Watkins High School, Minnesota

A.During the winter months the soldiers were mostly concerned with their survival, so recreation was probably not on their minds. As spring came, activities other than drills and marches took place. "Games" would have included a game of bowls played with cannon balls and called "Long Bullets;" "Base" was also a game — the ancestor of baseball, so you can imagine how it might be played; and cricket/wicket. George Washington himself was said to have took up the bat in a game of wicket early in May after a dinner with General Knox! Some men were into practical jokes as attested to in "The Military Journal of John Ewing: A Soldier of Valley Forge" like when "some Rogueish chaps tied a sheaf of straw" to the tail of a horse belonging to the Quartermaster of General Maxwell's brigade. The straw was set afire and the horse was let loose to run. The Quartermaster, of course was incredibly offended and made a formal complaint to General Maxwell. Other games included cards and dice..gambling in general, although that was frowned upon. There were also various church services and once, the officers and their ladies organized a play called "Cato" on May 11th at the Bake House.


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