Thesis: Condition of Soldiers in the Continental Army

Sample Thesis Paper

Among the 1,400 muskets that were discovered, most of them were found to be in horrible conditions, with 800 of them having no firelocks at all. These firelocks would have to be custom made by the gunsmiths. By the summer of 1776 however, three quarters of Washington’s troops had arms which meant 25% of them were without guns. Washington labored to supply these men with French weapons through 1777. Half of the infantry did not have bayonets. It can be seen how despite all these efforts the Continental army was seriously lacking equipment and manpower throughout the war. As a result broken weapons were not replaced until after battles and there were severe penalties for any soldier who lost or sold his gun.

There were constant fears that the soldiers who deserted would leave taking their weapons with them. The shortage of flints was also another concern. Flints were essential for the men to fire their weapons. While the Europeans had ten flints for every man, the Continental army could boast barely one flint for every soldier which eventually increased to three as the war went on (Bellesiles, 2003, p.196-201).

One of the foremost examples regarding the conditions the soldiers faced in the Continental army could be seen at the battle of Valley Forge. Soldiers were exposed to the cold winds of winter dressed in only worn rags. Many of them did not have shoes or shirts and had to make their own barracks in the countryside in contrast to the British who enjoyed food and shelter. The barracks did little to protect them from the freezing cold and blankets were in short supply among the men. Soldiers had to sleep on the cold hard ground due to a lack of straw or hay. For food they survived on firecakes and pepper hot soup. Firecakes were often known to be cooked on the outside but uncooked on the inside. By 1778, nearly a fourth of the Continental army died of starvation or disease (Chadwick, 2005, p.89-90).

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