“Help came in the form of a Prussian volunteer, BARON VON STEUBEN. The military leader was aghast at the lack of American discipline. At Washington’s urging he trained the Continental Army, Prussian-style. The troops slowly became more professional. Among the soldiers who remained, confidence grew.
Over the course of the winter, the weather improved somewhat. Food trickled in from the surrounding countryside. Many wives of soldiers spent time at Valley Forge over the winter. Washington was able to quash those who questioned his leadership abilities.
The Continental Army encamped at Valley Forge in the fall of 1777 with about 12,000 men in its ranks. Death claimed about a quarter of them before spring arrived. Another thousand didn’t reenlist or deserted. But the army that remained was stronger. They were fewer, but more disciplined. They were weary, but firmly resolved.
The next year, 1778, brought greater fortune to the American cause. While Washington froze at Valley Forge, Benjamin Franklin was busy securing the French alliance. Now the war would be different indeed.”