Valley Forge National Historical Park Hosts "Lock, Stock & Barrel: The World of the Continental Soldier"

Living history presentations like this one on French Alliance Day help bring the past to life at Valley Forge National Historical Park. NPS photo.

An upcoming weekend event at Valley Forge National Historical Park will have plenty to offer for professional historians and history buffs alike. Lock, Stock & Barrel: The World of the Continental Soldier promises a wealth of information about the men and women who made history at Valley Forge.

The symposium, hosted by the Friends of Valley Forge Park, will be preceded by a reception on Friday evening March 25 at Valley Forge National Historical Park, and followed by a living history program there on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Those activities provide the bookends for a full day on Saturday March 26, when noted historians, musicians and archaeologists will delve deeper into the lives of those who fought for the nation’s independence. Organizers note that "the saga of the American Revolutionary War is often told through lectures and textbooks, depicting tales of a heroic General Washington. But what of the common Revolutionary War soldiers?"

Saturday's activities will help answer those questions with an impressive variety of topics.

In "Who Wore the Red Coat?" British Army expert Don Hagist will offer "a close and fascinating look at some of the interesting individuals who fought with the Red Coats in America."

He'll be followed by Dr. David Robarge, chief historian of the Central Intelligence Agency, who will unveil the espionage, covert action, counterintelligence and cryptanalysis used to overcome the British army’s advantage in men and arms. During “Secrets of the Revolution,” Robarge will demonstrate how several key military episodes hinged on the role of spies and disinformation.

Women in the Revolution? Nancy K. Loane, Ed.D., and author of Following the Drum: Women at the Valley Forge Encampment, will give a fresh look at the often forgotten female revolutionaries at 1:30 p.m. Drawing from studies of journals, letters and diaries from the encampment, Loane will discuss the hundreds of women who endured it, including a 74-year-old assistant to Washington.

David and Ginger Hildebrand will both discuss and perform appropriate military and patriotic songs, marches and dance tunes using instruments of the period. Based on primary sources such as hand-copied music books, letters, journals and newspapers, the Hildebrands bring to life this important part of soldier and officers’ lives.

Other topics at the symposium include recent archaeological discoveries at Valley Forge, the story of a one-eyed, one-handed drummer who never lost sight of his goals and became a teacher of penmanship, and the history of the Liberty Bell in both peace and war.

Those events on Saturday, March 26, will be held at the Crowne Plaza Valley Forge, and the registration is March 18. Click here for a complete schedule and additional details, along with registration information.

Valley Forge is located in southeastern Pennsylvania. You'll find driving directions, maps and information on public transportation on the park website.