The Missing Soldier of Valley Forge

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During the dreadful winter of the American encampment at Valley Forge six or eight soldiers went out to forage for provisions. Knowing that little was to be hoped for near the camp of their starving comrades, they set off in the direction of French Creek. At this stream the party separated, and a little later two of the men were attacked by Tory farmers. Flying along the creek for some distance they came to a small cave in a bluff, and one of them, a young Southerner named Carrington, scrambled into it. His companion was not far behind, and was hurrying toward the cave, when he was arrested by a rumble and a crash: a block of granite, tons in weight, that had hung poised overhead, slid from its place and completely blocked the entrance. The stifled cry of despair from the living occupant of the tomb struck to his heart. He hid in a neighboring wood until the Tories had dispersed, then, returning to the cave, he strove with might and main to stir the boulder from its place, but without avail.

When he reached camp, as he did next day, he told of this disaster, but the time for rescue was believed to be past, or the work was thought to be too exhausting and dangerous for a body of men who had much ado to keep life in their own weak frames. It was a double tragedy, for the young man’s sweetheart never recovered from the shock that the news occasioned, and on her tomb, near Richmond, Virginia, these words are chiselled: “Died, of a broken heart, on the 1st of March, 1780, Virginia Randolph, aged 21 years, 9 days. Faithful unto death.” In the summer of 1889 some workmen, blasting rock near the falls on French Creek, uncovered the long-concealed cavern and found there a skeleton with a few rags of a Continental uniform. In a bottle beside it was an account, signed by Arthur L. Carrington, of the accident that had befallen him, and a letter declaring undying love for his sweetheart.

He had starved to death. The bones were neatly coffined, and were sent to
Richmond to be buried beside those of the faithful Miss Randolph.

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