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Ricardo Herrera delivers his lecture about feeding Washington's army onstage in front of a crowd.

...deficiencies in the Article of provisions, which we have often severely felt, seem now on the point of resolving themselves into this fatal crisis—total want and a dissolution of the Army…, and from any thing, I can see, we have every reason to apprehend the most ruinous consequences.” 
— George Washington to William Buchanan (Commissary General of Purchases), Feb. 7, 1778

Author and historian Dr. Ricardo A. Herrera joined the Museum on Jan. 26, 2023, to discuss his extensive new book on the Continental Army’s 1777-78 encampment at Valley Forge, uncovering what everyday life was like for soldiers during the darkest and coldest days of the Revolutionary War. Drawing on his 2022 book Feeding Washington’s Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778, Herrera brought to light the army’s herculean efforts to feed itself, support local and Continental governments, and challenge the British Army. Highlighting the missteps and triumphs of both General George Washington and his officers as well as ordinary soldiers, sailors, and militiamen, Herrera revealed how close the Continental Army came to succumbing to starvation and how strong and resourceful its soldiers and leaders needed to be to survive.

The program was held in the Museum’s Liberty Hall and was be broadcast live. Following the presentation, Museum President & CEO Dr. R. Scott Stephenson joined the conversation to facilitate a live Q&A with the onsite and online audiences.

About Dr. Ricardo A. Herrera

Ricardo Herrera headshot wearing a black suit with a blue shit and purple tie.

Dr. Ricardo A. Herrera is Visiting Professor, Department of National Security and Strategy, U.S. Army War College and an award-winning historian. He is the author of Feeding Washington’s Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778 (Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 2021), For Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier, 1775-1861 (New York: New York University Press, 2015), and of several articles and chapters on US military history. Herrera is now completing the tentatively titled book, A Most Uncommon Soldier: The Life, Letters, and Journal of Edward Ashley Bowen Phelps, 1814-1893, an edited collection, to be published by the University Press of Kansas. His next project will examine the 1778 and 1779 campaigns for Savannah. Before joining the Army War College, Dr. Herrera was Professor of Military History at the School of Advanced Military Studies, US Army Command and General Staff College. A graduate of Marquette University (PhD, 1998) and the University of California, Los Angeles (1984), Herrera was previously a historian on the Staff Ride Team, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and taught at Mount Union College and Texas Lutheran University. He has also served as an armor and cavalry officer in the U.S. Army.

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Book cover for Feeding Washington's Army by Ricardo A. Herrera featuring an image of Harrington Fitzgerald's painting Valley Forge Winter.
 

Feeding Washington's Army

Read an excerpt from Ricardo A. Herrera's book, Feeding Washington's Army: Surviving the Valley Forge Winter of 1778.
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Read the Revolution Speaker Series with Vincent Brown
 

Read the Revolution Speaker Series

The Read the Revolution Speaker Series brings celebrated authors and historians to the Museum for lively, facilitated discussions of their work.
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This image shows a painting called Valley Forge Winter The Return of the Foraging Party. It is a large painting displayed in a brown frame with a golden interior. The painting shows a gray wintry day of soldiers marching through Valley Forge. They are walking toward the viewer. There is a soldier on horseback with his sword in his right hand and a flag in his left.
 

Valley Forge Winter, The Return of the Foraging Party

This painting by American artist Harrington G. Fitzgerald shows the bleak scene of a foraging party of Continental Army soldiers returning to camp during the 1777-1778 winter encampment at Valley Forge.
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