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The Friends of Valley Forge

Our mission is to advocate for Valley Forge National Historical Park, to enhance the visitor experience and to promote public appreciation of the Park’s historic, environmental and recreational resources.


Brandywine – Meet the Author & Book Signing

Friday, November 28 1 pm The Encampment Store, located in the Visitor Center
Brandywine cover

Brandywine is the first complete study to merge the strategic, political, and tactical history of this complex operation and important set-piece battle into a single compelling account. More than a decade in the making, Michael C. Harris’ sweeping prose relies almost exclusively upon original archival research and his personal knowledge of the terrain. Enhanced with original maps, illustrations, and modern photos, and told largely through the words of those who fought there, Brandywine will take its place as one of the most important military studies of the American Revolution ever written.


Michael C. Harris

About the Author: Michael C. Harris is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and the American Military University. He has worked for the National Park Service in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Fort Mott State Park in New Jersey, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at Brandywine Battlefield. He has conducted tours and staff rides of many east coast battlefields. Michael is certified in secondary education and currently teaches in the Philadelphia region. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Michelle and son, Nathanael.

6th Annual Young Friends Holiday Mixer

Wednesday, December 3 7 – 9 pm Philander Knox Estate directions
YF Mixer

Please join the Young Friends for an evening of food, drink, and merriment, held at the historic P.C. Knox Estate. For additional information and tickets, click here.

Friends Speaker Series

Tuesday, December 2 7 pm Washington Memorial Chapel
Give Me a Fast Ship: The Continental Navy

Five ships against hundreds – the fledgling American Navy versus the greatest naval force the world had ever seen...

America in 1775 was on the verge of revolution – or, more likely, disastrous defeat. After the bloodshed at Lexington and Concord, England’s King George sent hundreds of ships westward to bottle up American harbors and prey on American shipping. Colonists had no force to defend their coastline and waterways until John Adams of Massachusetts proposed a bold solution: The Continental Congress should raise a navy. The idea was mad. The Royal Navy was the mightiest floating arsenal in history, with a seemingly endless supply of vessels. More than a hundred of these were massive “ships of the line,” bristling with up to a hundred high-powered cannon that could level a city. The British were confident that His Majesty’s warships would quickly bring the rebellious colonials to their knees.

They were wrong. Beginning with five converted merchantmen, America’s sailors became formidable warriors, matching their wits, skills, and courage against the best of the British fleet. Victories off American shores gave the patriots hope – victories led by captains such as John Barry, Nicholas Biddle, and James Nicholson. Meanwhile, along the British coastline, daring raids by handsome, cocksure John Paul Jones and the “Dunkirk Pirate,” Gustavus Conyngham sent fear throughout England. The adventures of these men and others on both sides of the struggle rival anything from Horatio Hornblower or Lucky Jack Aubrey. In the end, these rebel sailors, from the quarterdeck to the forecastle, contributed greatly to American independence.

About the Speaker

Tim McGrath

Tim McGrath (BA History, Temple University ’74) is a business executive who lives outside of Philadelphia. He has served on the board of directors of the Kearsley Retirement Community (founded by Benjamin Franklin’s physician), Christ Church Hospital, the Philadelphia Senior Centers, and Fort Mifflin. His many interests, including tennis, riding, and sailing, are limited only by creaking knees and a fickle rotator cuff.

Over the years he has written articles on management, U.S. history, and healthcare issues for various newspapers and magazines. His first book, John Barry: an American Hero in the Age of Sail (Westholme Publishing, 2010), won the American Revolutionary Roundtable Book of the Year Award, the Navy League Book Award, and was a finalist for the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature. With his son, Ted (an award-winning freelance illustrator), he wrote Travels with the Commodore, a children’s book published for the Philadelphia Port Authority’s community reading program. His latest book, Give Me a Fast Ship (NAL/Penguin), was actually completed on schedule despite his terrible typing.


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