Having spent four years living in Mifflin County, I never gave much thought to the area’s namesake – Thomas Mifflin, first governor of Pennsylvania.
Not all names inspire man, and Mifflin unfortunately is not himself one of them. I visited Valley Forge recently and discovered his story. Now when I cross from Juniata into Mifflin County, I will remember his role leading up to a tough first few months of the revolutionary encampment of 1777.
AllThingsLiberty describes it better than I could:
By the time the army encamped at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78, supply arrangements had all but broken down. Blame began to settle on the Quartermaster General, Thomas Mifflin, who (except for a brief period in late 1776) had been in this post since the beginning of the war
Mifflin received much of the blame for the condition that the Continental army entered the winter of 1778. Mifflin was succeeded by Nathanael Greene, a hero of the Revolution, who restored supply chains and helped the army prepare for its spring offensive. Says Greene biographer Gerald M. Carbone of Mifflin’s upward failure,
To join the War Board, Thomas Mifflin resigned from his job as quartermaster, the person in charge of supplyiing an army. His resignation was a good thing, as he’d been doing a disgraceful job of running the quartermaster’s department. Now in the winter of 1778, with many of its soldiers barefoot, without pants, and starving, the nascent nation needed a good quartermaster general.
Wikipedia claims that later during his political career within Pennsylvania politics, Mifflin decreed that no less than six towns in Pennsylvania bear his name, but there’s no source of this particular fact and I haven’t been able to locate one.