The Prayer at Valley Forge

Young Isaac Potts rode down one summer day
With Reverend Snowden on his dapple gray;
Near where the Revolution Army lay
During the winter of that dreadful war.
And said to him,

“Now let me, I implore,
Explain to you with simple southern lore
How I came to understand at Valley Forge
The character of that great general, George
Washington. I, a Quaker and a Tory,
Felt that war against Great Britain’s glory–
Whose fleets and armies covered land and sea–
Could only end in abject misery.

“I supervised the grinding of the grain
At this most stressful time of the campaign;
The soldiers, cold and hungry, ill equipped,
Were all but ready to give up the ship!
And yet this one good man who at the helm,
Knew freedom from the king’s oppressive realm
Was the one and only way to guarantee
The rights of man, the cause of liberty!

“There, in those woods I heard a plaintive sound,
As of a man in prayer–’twas quite profound;–
So to a sapling here I tied my horse
And went in quietude to find the source.

I made my way between the leafless trees
And found the great commander on his knees;
His fine cocked hat and sword were laid aside
As with the God above he did confide–

“Surrounded here with woods of oak and beech,
With piety, the general did beseech
The God of all herein to interpose
For cause of country against the stronger foes.
He pled the cause of all humanity,
The cause of freedom only God could see;
He laid ‘ye Crisis’ firmly at His feet
And vowed to fight on, never to retreat.

“Now such a prayer I’d never heard before;
Such hope, such faith did from him freely pour–
I left him as I found him, knelt in prayer,
And knew I’d witnessed something truly rare!
For it always seemed impossible to me
That a soldier and a Christian one could be,
But here beneath those dismal winter skies
I saw it with my own two youthful eyes.

I rode on home along that well-worn trail
A convert to a fledgling cause so frail;
But this I knew–America would prevail!”