Sample Student Essay

Valley Forge: Would You Have Quit?

Introduction:
War is hard but the hardship is not always bayonets and bullets. In December 1777, General George Washington made his winter camp at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. The British army under General Howe was only a few moles away in Philadelphia. Washington now has a special problem. Many of his men have signed up to fight for only six months or nine months. Their terms are now coming to an end. The question for Washington is how will be get his men to reenlist. The question for many of us men is "Should I quit?" I have thought long and hard about this but I am deciding to reenlist for three main reasons: the sickness of the men, loyality to my country, and belief in our cause.
Grabber

Background

Restatement of question

Definition of key terms
(if necessary)

Thesis

Roadmap

First body paragraph:
It is February 1, 1778, and about one-half of Washington's army are too sick to report for roll call. (Doc A) During the winter, between 1800 and 2500 will die from illness. (Doc A) I admit these numbers make me scared sometimes. I want to live like any man. My parents need me to plant the spring wheat. But all this sickness and death makes me realize that I can't quit now. I don't want my dead friends to have died for nothing. I am not just fighting for myself. I am fighting for my fallen comrads.
Baby Thesis

Evidence with citations

Argument

Second body paragraph:
A second reason I am reenlisting is loyalty to my government. Several weeks ago a fine group of fellows called the Committee of Congress arrived at Valley Forge. I remember our first vist together, us in rags, and they in their fine clothes. (Doc B) We didn't know quite what to make of them but they have stayed on through much of the winter, helping the General with his heavy responsibility. The Committee makes me feel that my government cares, that someone is listening. My government supports me. I will stay on and support my government.
Baby Thesis

Evidence with citations

Argument

Third body paragraph:
Finally, I am reenlisting because I am no summer soldier! I agree with Thomas Paine: "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly." (Doc D) In other words, you've got to be willing to pay the price if you want something important. So what does this mean? It means when the going gets tough, you've just got to take a big breath and you've got to do the job. You don't cut and run. You reenlist. Freedom is worth the price!
Baby Thesis

Evidence with citations

Argument

Conclusion:
I do understand why some of my fellow soldiers are going home. Our huts are all smoky, we go days without meat, our clothes are torn up. (Docs B and C) We even hear stories about local farmers, Americans, who are selling their food to the British in Philadelphia. I simply feel that our cause is bigger than all this. There's still a job to do. I will go do it.
Restatement of thesis

"Although" statement

Main argument which trumps
"although" statement

Why the question is important today