As with the other excerpts from The Light and the Glory, the following accounts demonstrate how greatly Washington's faith influenced his conduct and life by molding his singular character attributes of piety and valor.

 

“'Death,' wrote Washington to his brother, Jack regarding his battles in the French and Indian War, 'was leveling my companions on every side of me, but by the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected.' This conviction was further shared by Samuel Davies, the famous Virginia clergyman, who wrote, 'To the public I point out that heroic youth. . .whom I cannot but hope Providence has preserved in so signal a manner for some important service to his country.' Indeed, such was Washington's fame that across the ocean, Lord Halifax was to ask, 'Who is Mr. Washington? I know nothing of him, but that say he behaved in Braddock's action as bravely as if he really loved the whistling of bullets.'”

 

Later, when Washington was a General commanding his troops in the battle for independence from England, they wintered in Valley Forge, fifteen miles from where the British were lodged in Philadelphia. It was an agonizing experience, but a necessary one through which in their suffering Washington and his troops emerged hardened for the rigors of the fight ahead. As related by The Light and the Glory,

 

“Snow fell early that winter – and stayed. Extreme low temperatures saw the Schuylkill freeze over, and preserved every inch of snow that lay on the ground, till the roads were clogged with drifts several feet deep. . .”

 

“From the beginning, life in Valley Forge was grim. The huts were smoky and dark, and the newest men in each hut were given the bottom bunks closest to the door – the ones that got cold first, when the night fire burned low. In the morning, the men took turns taking the bucket and padding down to the frozen creek, to fetch cooking water. Meal after meal, their food consisted of 'firecake' – wheat or cornmeal poured into a kettle of water, mixed, and ladled out on a big stone in the middle of an open fire, where it baked. Sometimes, there was a bit of salt pork, too, or some dried fish, when the wagons got through. As for winter clothing, it was in such scarce supply that Washington had to issue a general order threatening punishment to anyone cutting up a tent to make a coat out of it, for they had to save every tent they could for next summer.

 

“As the winter wore on, and the list of sick and dead mounted higher, life in Valley Forge became an unbearable nightmare. Now there were men who were literally naked, because they did not have even rags to wrap around them. A committee from Congress (they finally sent one in the middle of February) was shocked to find how many 'feet and legs froze till they became black, and it was often necessary to amputate them.' Exposure to the elements combined with the starvation diet to insure optimum conditions for the diseases which now ravaged the camp. . .”

 

“Yet the nightmare grew worse. . .”

 

“This, then, was the miracle of Valley Forge. That the men endured was indeed amazing to all who knew of their circumstances. But the reason they endured – the reason they believed in God's deliverance – was simple: they could believe, because their General did believe. . .”

 

 

Published by Art Perkins