George Washington’s Ragged US Army arrives at Valley Forge


1777, 244 years ago

Frigid temperatures and light snow greet General George Washington and his tattered army of 11,000 as they approach a two-mile-long plateau called Valley Forge. It’s about 20 miles northwest of British-owned Philadelphia, and it’s where the US military will spend the winter.

Washington hopes to use this time to rest and reorganize its men and transform them into an effective fighting machine. It won’t be easy.

Hungry, shirtless, shoeless men struggle to survive. Their clothes are in tatters. They wrap their frozen feet in rags, but it doesn’t work. (Washington later writes, “You may have traced the military to Valley Forge by the blood of their feet.”) There are no blankets and no soap. Along with the cold and the dirt, unwashed men contract dysentery, typhus and pneumonia. And to add to their woes, they haven’t been paid for months. It is not surprising that the number of desertions is increasing every day. The men just say “enough” and walk away, heading for the house.

Washington is powerless because the army’s supply system is broken. The incompetence of the Quartermaster General’s office and Congress resulted in the inability to send food, supplies, and money to Washington. It’s a mess.

Washington also has another concern. General Sir William Howe, Commander of the British Army in Philadelphia, may well decide to attack the United States Army at Valley Forge. Are the inexperienced and ailing men of Washington capable of stopping such an attack?

More history:This week in history: Baron von Steuben arrives in America

Business:The Chamber announces the 2021 Company of the Year winners

1921, 100 years ago

Disabled Veterans

Seventy-five needy and disabled veterans of the recent world war are surprised on Christmas morning by members of the Utica Post 229, American Legion, delivering baskets of food, toys, cigarettes and items toilet. The items were collected by legionaries and members of Utica Post 4, disabled American veterans and parishioners of Plymouth Church on Oneida Square.

1946, 75 years ago

christmas babies

Some of the area babies born on Christmas Day include: a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Baker of New York Mills; a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Grestl of Utica; a son to Mr. and Mrs. Dominick Cortese of Utica; a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Rahn of Whitesboro; a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Morrissey of Utica, and a son to Mr. and Mrs. Julius Quinn of Utica.

1971, 50 years ago


Oneida County elected executive William Bryant appoints Aubrey Alberding Sr., of Oriskany Falls, deputy commissioner of public works, highways, bridges and structures division. Donald F. Austin of Rome is appointed Public Defender for a second six-year term.

The elected mayor of Utica, Michael Caruso, reappoints Norman Pensero as director of recreation and Joseph Pacitto as administrator of housing development and urban renewal. Anthony Madia is appointed Parks Commissioner.

1996, 25 years ago

Holiday dinners

Volunteers provide hot meals during the holidays for hundreds of people in need and others who just don’t want to celebrate on their own. Many of the latter insist on paying for their meals. Over 200 people attended the Herkimer Interfaith Clergy Council Dinner at the First United Methodist Church in Herkimer. Hundreds of people attend the dinner at the Utica Rescue Mission on Rutger Street. And thanks to many donations, fruit baskets, bagels, toys, hats and knitted gloves are distributed.

William Glasso, treasurer of the city of Rome for 17 years, retires.

In high school basketball, Notre Dame defeated Trinity of Connecticut, 64-43, in the Northeast Catholic Basketball Classic in Trumbull, Connecticut. Derek Graham has 28 points for the winners and Russ Carlson adds 21. Meanwhile, Waterville beats Frankfort-Schuyler, 81-56, behind Ryan Barth’s 26 points and Shannon Ruane’s 21. Brett Barnard leads Frankfort-Schuyler with 25 points.

Janine Sadlik, of Whitesboro, is appointed director of community medicine at St. Elizabeth Medical Center. She will oversee the daily operations of 10 family health centers in Oneida and Herkimer counties.

2011, 10 years ago

The mayor has taken the oath

Robert Palmieri is sworn in as the mayor of Utica during ceremonies at the town hall. James Murphy is his chief of staff and Sue Randall is his secretary. More than 200 people greet the mayor as he walks in with his granddaughter, Alexandra Mungari, in his arms.


The woman was not only the first woman appointed by a US president to his cabinet, but she also became the longest-serving cabinet member in history. Name her, the cabinet department she headed, and the president who appointed her. The answers will appear here next week.

Answer to last week’s question: Dwight D. Eisenhower was an avid golfer and had a putting green set up on the White House lawn. Gerald Ford played center and linebacker for the University of Michigan football team in 1932-33 and was offered professional contracts by the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, which he turned down. to study law. George Herbert Walker Bush was a first baseman for the Yale University baseball team after World War II. He was a good defensive player and a good hitter. In his two years with the team, he produced .251 with two homers and 23 RBIs.

This Week in History is researched and written by Frank Tomaino. Email him at


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