Within each regiment the soldiers at Valley Forge were divided into groups of twelve to build huts to house themselves during the winter of 1777-1778. According to an order given by General Washington, each hut would be home to twelve men. Click on image to see larger version of each picture.
outside view of hut The dimensions of the huts were as follows: twelve feet by sixteen feet for the perimeter and six feet high. The sides were to be made from logs and the roof of planks. The logs were chinked with mud. No requirements were given for the floors, and in fact most had none. 3 bunks inside
Chimneys also were not required, but the fireplaces were made from fieldstones and the cracks were filled with mud. There were no windows just a single door. Twelve bunks were built into the sides of the walls. When the spring finally arrived, Washington ordered the chinking in the logs removed to increase the air circulation within the huts. fireplace Since it was already winter when they arrived at Valley Forge, it was critical to construct the huts quickly. Therefore General Washington offered a prize of twelve dollars to the group in each regiment that finished their hut first.
a view inside the huts Although precise recommendations had been given as to how and what to use for building materials, in actual fact the men used whatever was the most convenient. Also, the carpentry expertise of the men in the individual regiments varied greatly. As a result, some soldiers fared better than others. The northern regiments tended to be more skilled in building huts that were more effective in keeping out the wind and the cold. The southern soldiers were not aware of what to expect from a northern winter! view of the huts from outside
Overall the living conditions for everyone in the huts were poor. This situation was due to many factors. With or without chimneys many of the fireplaces did not work well and filled the huts with choking smoke. Adding to the smoke problem was the fact that much of the firewood was green and difficult to burn. Dismal sanitary conditions existed. Latrines had been built, but were not used effectively. Thus filth continuously increased in the huts. As a result, disease was everywhere. Approximately three thousand men died that winter. Most of these died from diseases contracted in camp.

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Valley Forge

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