Each year thousands of Americans who visit the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area stop to see Valley Forge in the nearby hills. At a crude encampment there during the
winter of 1777-78, 2,000 colonial soldiers died of hunger, disease, and . But their commander, the future U.S. president George Washington, made a fighting force of his beaten and
army. Come Spring, they began a campaign that won the colonies' independence from Britain.
Valley Forge is an important U.S. historical park, managed by the National Park Service. And just 30 kilometers away is an important site that has suffered quite a different . It's
Brandywine Battlefield, the site of the Revolutionary War's largest and engagement — which the colonists lost decisively. That led to their ordeal at Valley Forge.
The Brandywine Battlefield had been a showcase Pennsylvania historical park. But this year's troubled economy led to a budget that brought with it terrible news for its small staff and legion
of dedicated volunteers. Brandywine Battlefield Park was to be closed and locked . The move would have two historic buildings where General Washington; another future president,
James Madison; and two legendary foreign fighters, the French Marquis de Lafayette and the Polish count Casimir Pulaski, had made their headquarters.
But a group called Friends of Brandywine Park have come to the rescue, at least for the . They agreed to operate the park, and some of the paid staff even volunteered to work for free to
keep it open. Longer-term, park supporters are that the nearby township of Chadd's Ford, and four other townships over whose grounds the battle , will come up with enough money to
keep the park going. And they're hoping that the National Park Service will one day take on Brandywine Battlefield Park and combine the visitor experience with that of nearby Valley Forge.