Historical Markers
Gulph Mills Encampment Historical Marker
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Gulph Mills Encampment

Philadelphia and its Countryside/Lehigh Valley


Marker Location:
PA 320 near intersection SR 3030 at Gulph Mills

Dedication Date:
May 2, 1955

Behind the Marker

On December 11, 1777, the American army under General George Washington deemed their position at Whitemarsh too close to the occupied city of Philadelphia and began to move to a more defensible winter encampment. They stopped for a few days at Swedes' ford, on the north side of the Schuylkill River, but that location also was unacceptable to the American commanders. They worried that British troops might attempt raids along the Philadelphia-Lancaster turnpike, attempting to harass or capture the Continental Congress which had fled Philadelphia, passing through Lancaster before ending up in temporary quarters at York.

The army then spent nearly a week at Gulph Mills, on the other side of the river, before shifting a few miles down the road to the higher ground of the village at Valley Forge, where they remained until springtime.

A 19th century engraving showing Washington on horseback amidst his troops, marching through a snowstorm.
A 19th century engraving showing Washington on horseback amidst his troops,...
The movement across the Schuylkill River came during a typically frigid, wet week in mid-December. "We crossed the Schuylkill in a cold, rainy and snowy night," noted one soldier in his diary, "upon a bridge of wagons set end to end and joined together by boards and planks."

At Gulph Mills, Washington addressed his troops, offering his thanks for their "fortitude and patience," promising that if they only persevered, they would achieve "the end of our Warfare: Independence, Liberty and Peace." Two days later, on Friday, December 19, 1777, the army began to march into Valley Forge.

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