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Feeding Washington's Army

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I would recommend this book to anyone interested in American history.  Enjoyed the closer look at a famous part of the American War of Independence.
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I think the content of this book is interesting for everyone, but I think only the real history enthusiasts will finish the book. I just found the writing to be a little dry and boring at times. To be fair we are talking about the logistics of providing food for an army. Still I recommend this to any Revolutionary War history buffs.

I got this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This is an exceptionaly researched book. 
 The logistics of supplying an army for a new country was complicated and precarious.  It shows just how difficult the fight for a free country was.
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Every American Revolutionary War enthusiast knows about the Continental Army's encampment during the winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania.  The site now serves as a historic park that honors the soldiers struggles to stay alive during the harsh winter and efforts to better themselves as a fighting unit that would eventually go on to defeat the British.  

In his upcoming book Feeding Washington's Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778, historian Ricardo Hererra explores the mechanics of how the army was able to survive.  During that winter, Washington executed a complex operation founded on foraging for supplies to keep the army fed, just barely.  Hererra goes into vivid details about the officers who led the foraging expeditions, how it impacted the local populations, and the British army's efforts to supply their forces.  As much time as each army spent foraging for food and livestock, they also worked steadily to keep supplies away from each other.  Either way the results were most cruel to local populations that extended far past Valley Forge who needed the fruits of their labors to sustain their own families and communities.  

Herrera's book is meticulously researched and he presents it in gripping way to keep the reader engaged.  This will definitely be a must read for any student of the American Revolution or military history.  It also is a great study in the societal implications of war at a time when Americans and populations around the world are facing shortages of critical goods because of military conflicts far away.  There is much to be learned from Feeding Washington's Army.
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The author brings to life the difficulties and challenges of feeding an army on the move when it has no backing or power of government behind it.  Dependent upon volunteers and unwilling conscripts whose contributions were not well rewarded, it is a wonder the nation survived.  And Herrera makes the reader appreciate those foragers and farmers whose supplies barely kept the army alive, committed, and functional.  The commitments that brought them through in the face of barely surmountable odds is nothing short of astounding.  This is a well-researched readable history that will round out, without apocryphal tales and mythology, our understanding of just how tenuous our hard won independence from England was.
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The horrid winter at Valley Forge is indelibly etched in Revolutionary War lore. Herrera examines how Washington managed to feed all the soldiers, or in some cases, couldn’t, during those long frozen months.
It’s an interesting perspective on a well known tale. I found it informative, but at time it did read like a manual.
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An intriguing look at how General Washington struggled during the Revolutionary War.  A rare look at historical facts during g a time that was crucial to our American experience.
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I received this book from the publisher through Netgalley for review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Publishing date: June 2022
The author has written a well researched and intriguing book on Washington and the wintering grounds at Valley Forge. It outlines the risks taken, the potential of losing ground to the enemy and the quest for food and supplies during a harsh winter and lack of sustenance available. Foraging was the only decision to make. Recommending to historians and teachers. It's a short book coming under 200 pages but a precise one, clear in details and highly informative view on the winter at Valley Forge.
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“Feeding Washington's Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778,” by Ricardo A. Herrera” (ISBN: 9781469667317), publication date 14 Jun 2022, easily earns five stars—it’s that good.

General George Washington is certainly widely known, but more as a mythical figure than as a general who faced the most significant, real-world, challenges and complexities. This duality diminishes our understanding and appreciation of the extent of his many achievements despite the complexities, competing interests, and internecine rivalries that he and his officers faced hourly. 

This book is a long overdue breath of scholarly fresh air that brings deep clarity to the general’s perseverance and accomplishments that contributed to the survival of his army at Valley Forge. This clarity results from the author’s exceptional scholarship, relentless research, and gifted writing. The author transports the reader from now to then, and makes the reader privy to conversations, documents, tables of organization, conclusions, and connections not normally known. He does this by examining in detail what it took to sustain the general’s army at its Valley Force winter encampment, e.g., victuals, clothing, wagons, horses, uniforms, weapons, pay, and all the provisions needed by an army. The Grand Forage of 1778 and related efforts are the mechanisms.

This is neither a dry narrative nor a plodding history. Quite the contrary, it is a seminal work, full of life. The vibrant narrative leaves one feeling as though they are literally at the side of the general and others, a most privileged insider. Letters, diaries, minutes, reports, and military and Congressional assessments are all at our disposal and reveal to us the thinking of the time—from the most private thoughts to the greatest public proclamations. In the end, we know more than did any single participant of the time—even the general—and we have the added benefit of historical perspective. These things combine to make this a great and worthy read that leaves us better informed and happier for the experience.

Thanks to the publisher, University of North Carolina Press, for their gifted editing, and for granting this reviewer the opportunity to read this Advance Reader Copy (ARC), and thanks to NetGalley for helping to make that possible.
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Professor Herrera does a great job of detailing the dire situation of the Continental Army as well as the British Army in the harsh winter of 1778.  Professor Herrera is a professional military historian and it truly shows in methodology and content.  It was a pleasure to read this work and I look forward to reading his back catalog and any future endeavors.
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Logistics in any army is a rather daunting task. In a documentary on Lawrence of Arabia British diplomat Rory Stewart states that “an army fights on its  stomach” when describing the Ottoman Empire’s use of the Hejaz Railway. Commanders know that to keep their forces combat effective, feeding it is a top priority. Herrera has captured this essence when chronicling the The Grand Forage during the winter of 1778.  In this work Herrera details the efforts by the Continental Army to feed its starving forces in Valley Forge in order to be effective once winter camp breaks. I would highly recommend this work to those who are fascinated by military logistics.
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Description: A persuasive history detailing how the Continental Army was fed at Valley Forge in the deadly winter of 1778. Packed with names, places, and details. A tour de force! Herrera states “this book contends that the Continental Army at Valley Forge was a field army engaged in active operations.”

Review
A history book — NOT a novel and packed with tons of information. I can see this as a textbook in an advanced class at any of the military academies. Definitely, a reference book to be used in the study of Valley Force. Insight into the Leadership of George Washington. Herrera provides very detailed information about the forages.

Very interesting reading about the leaders on both sides of the conflict. No “punches were pulled”. If the person was weak and/or ineffectual, Herrera plainly states why. The same is for those who led well.

The author is a professor of military history at the School of Advanced Military Studies at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. His knowledge shows throughout the book.

For this reviewer who is a history buff because I am the genealogy researcher in my family (working on DAR certification), I found the last chapter, the Conclusion, to be the most interesting. (One doesn’t read this book like they would a novel. I read this book over two weeks.) The final chapter is more about people and includes what happened to them after the war ended.

The following is provided because it demonstrates the documentation and research that went into this book. My e-ARC copy was early in the manuscript process. The book ends on page 185. Acknowledgments are followed with (End) Notes on page 189. The Bibliography begins on page 219 and is broken into the following:
– Manuscript and Archival Sources,
– Published Primary Sources – Books,
—– Articles and Chapters,
—– Periodicals,
—– Constitutions,
—– Maps and Charts,
– Published Secondary Sources,
—– Books,
—– Articles and Chapters,
– Unpublished Secondary Sources,
– Reference Works and
– Digital Sources
The book will have an index that was not available in the e-ARC.

I received a complimentary e-ARC copy of Feeding Washington’s Army via NetGalley from the publisher, University of North Carolina Press. A positive review was not required; the opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. I loved this acknowledgment to his mother — “With this book, I think my mother … finally understands (mostly) what it is that I do for a living.”

#FeedingWashingtonsArmy #NetGalley #RicardoAHerrera

Title: Feeding Washington’s Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778
Series: N/A
Author: Ricardo A. Herrera
Genre: History
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Format: Kindle (read), Hardcover
Pages: 265
Source: NetGalley (Wish Granted)
Cover: Compelling. Valley Forge in a snowy and cold winter.
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This well researched and notated study delves into the reasons and realities behind the tales of hardship during that record breaking cold and snowy winter at Valley Forge. It demonstrates the mistrusts and greed of both congress and the purveyors and the lengths to which the generals were forced to go to in order to provision their men. Well done.
I requested and received a free e-book copy from University of North Carolina Press via NetGalley.
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This is a fine history book, which illuminates the Valley Forge encampment,  the various foraging excursions of that brutal winter.  Herrera effectively uses primary source material to provide granular detail but also to highlight the concerns of the men involved from the senior-most ranks on down.  He also sets the strategic context well, explaining how tactical decisions were informed by the political realities of Tory versus Rebel sympathies in the middle-Atlantic colonies; chapter four, for example , discusses Washington’s military decisions in the context of securing the heavily divided Delaware area.  Very well done by a skilled military historian.
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Born from a staff ride stand, this is a re-evaluation of the old story of Valley Forge, where shivering patriots huddled around campfires and waited for Steuben to come yell them into disciplined action. Turns out, with richly and finely grained primary source research, there was a lot more going on, by necessity and fortuitously. Herrera demonstrates that the winter of 1778 was not just a test of resolve, but of a tenuous logistics system based on the web of personal and business contacts of Congressionally-appointed quartermasters, who had to negotiate with nearly worthless paper money and promises. To feed and sustain the army, Washington's forces faced an enormous test--could he send out his subordinates with something the modern military thinks of as mission command: centralized intent but giving initiative and freedom of actions to the executors on the ground, especially in situations where people mildly sympathetic to revolution will be alienated by government overreach in the form of some rando in ragged uniform lifting their chickens. The Air Force has spoiled me for logistics, thinking mostly about contracts and palletized supplies that can be put on air mobility assets, but in an 18th century world, this means food in its basic form--wheat that has to be transported in a functioning wagon, pulled by an available horse, over winter road ruts to a mill (and the miller gets paid), bagged as flour (in bags, which have to be procured), stored so it won't go rancid, distributed to cook or made into hardtack over fuel that has to be found.... It's a lot more involved than air dropping a twinkie to a FOB, making this a master class study of how Washington passed the test and emerged with a force that could sustain the coming years of fighting and a demonstration that walking the battlefields and thinking about the practicalities leads us back to deeper understanding of familiar events.
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