1957 3¢ Marquis de Lafayette
Issue Date: September 6, 1957
City: Easton, Pennsylvania; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 10 ½ x 11
Color: Rose lake
Featured on U.S. #1097, the Marquis de Lafayette (Gilbert du Motier) was a young French noble who came to America to help with the Colonies’ struggle for freedom. The image on the stamp is a portrait painted by Joseph Desire Court. It shows the ornamental sword that the U.S. government presented to Lafayette in thanks for his help. U.S. #1097 commemorates Lafayette’s 200th birth anniversary.
The Continental Army Endures the Winter at Valley Forge
From December 19, 1777, to June 19, 1778, the Continental Army, under the command of General George Washington, camped at Valley Forge. Valley Forge is located about 25 miles west of Philadelphia along the Schuylkill River. Washington took his army there after losing the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. Washington chose to camp at Valley Forge due to its defendable location and proximity to farm supplies and trade routes.
That winter proved to be unusually harsh. The troops were poorly clothed and supplied, and had only the rough log shelters they had built themselves. To make matters worse, there was a smallpox epidemic. Of the approximately 10,000 troops camped at Valley Forge, about 2,500 died.
However, General Washington’s determined leadership, as well as that of the officers under his command, such as the Marquis de Lafayette and Baron Frederick von Steuben, held the troops together. In fact, when a small group of officers attempted to stir sentiment against Washington, Lafayette was one of the general’s staunchest supporters. The shared hardships toughened the American army and solidified its determination. The recently defeated, undisciplined troops that entered Valley Forge in December emerged a highly skilled fighting force in June.