After losing two significant battles against the British, the American Continental Army was left half-starved and dispirited when they reached their winter encampment in Valley Forge; however, General George Washington stayed with his troops and helped them remain intact. Disease was also a factor for the band of 11,000. They barely had enough to eat and when they did scrounge up some food, it naturally lacked nutritional value, which led to debilitating diseases like dysentery.
The events in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania unfolded in the winter of 1777, and this year had particularly bad weather, so in addition to suffering from lack of food, the men were bitterly cold. They felt badly discouraged, which resulted in them not making proper hygiene a priority. Poor hygiene was a contributing factor to the diseases that sprang up. Moreover, the death of horses from lack of food and proper care and the lack of a way to properly get rid of the carcasses only exacerbated the problems.
While there were some desertions, the men did not give up . To prepare themselves for the next battle with the British, they received additional military training from Baron von Steuben, who was a former army officer. They built themselves huts and redoubts. Six months later, they were a changed brigade.