Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

Joseph Plumb Martin and A Starving Winter Soldier’s Meager Meal

Watch more with these video collections:

There are many stories about how George Washington’s army went hungry during the winter of 1777-1778 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. As the National Park Service notes, “The winter encampment at Valley Forge is one of the most famous episodes of the American Revolution…”

“The myth often obscures the actual history of the event, however… Hardship did occur at Valley Forge, but it was not a time of exceptional misery in the context of the situation. The encampment experience could be characterized as ‘suffering as usual,’ for privation was the Continental soldier’s constant companion.”

eating around the fire
These bleak conditions are, perhaps, best described by Joseph Plumb Martin, who joined the Continental Army in the summer of 1776 when he was 15 years old.

In the video above, Starving Winter Soldier’s Meager Meal, Townsends YouTube channel host and 18th-century-enthusiast Jon Townsend reads from Joseph Plumb Martin’s book A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier (1830), sometimes titled Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier.

foraging for walnuts
The young private describes foraging for food and enduring the wet and cold from day to day. Townsend notes:

“What he feared most was not the battles but the deprivations, the lack of clothing, the lack of shelter, the lack of water, even the lack of food…

“Joseph Plumb Martin’s job was not to win the war; that was George Washington’s job. Joseph’s job was to survive the day.”

And that he did, participating in the the Battle of Monmouth and the Battle of Yorktown, two of many engagements. He also survived the winter encampment at Valley Forge, and after the war, went on to live a long life in Prospect, Maine.

a good meal

• Museum of the American Revolution: For Students and Educators.
• First-Person Theatrical Performances from the Museum of the American Revolution.
• A History of US: segment 1, webisode 2 (.pdf), one of many teaching guides for the series from
• What Happened at Valley Forge from

Watch these handpicked videos next:
George Washington and a history of vaccines
An 18th-century No-Nails Survival Shelter
Weaving on Mount Vernon’s 18th Century Loom
• Food of the Enslaved: Michael Twitty cooks recipes from American history

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

What does ‘Auld Lang Syne’ mean?

Rion Nakaya

Weaving on Mount Vernon’s 18th Century Loom

Rion Nakaya

Watch the “Salvation Fish” Transform From Animal to Candle

Rion Nakaya

Two different worlds: Wampanoag and Pilgrim women in 1620

Rion Nakaya

The Writer, a drawing machine automaton by Pierre Jaquet-Droz

Rion Nakaya

The Silver Swan, an 18th century automaton at the Bowes Museum

Rion Nakaya

The Secret History of Dirt, a smart soil explainer for all ages

Rion Nakaya

The Future of Food: Can we create the “perfect” farm?

Rion Nakaya

Sweet potato vs. yam: What’s the difference?

Rion Nakaya