If the army had to fight on short notice, von Steuben warned Washington, he might find himself commanding one-third of the men he thought he had. About Press Copyright Contact us Creators Advertise Developers Terms Privacy Policy & Safety How YouTube works Test new features The town is named after Baron von Steuben, a Prussian general who fought on the American side in the American Revolutionary War.. Von Steuben died there in November 1794 at age 64. A less courageous (or less bankrupt) man would have quit on the spot.” Unlike the American forces in New York, who had beaten the British at Saratoga in fall 1777, the army in Pennsylvania had suffered a series of defeats. By 1763, Steuben had gained all of his military experience which would be so valuable in his service to the American cause. Then the soldiers performed the feu de joie, a ceremonial rifle salute in which each soldier in a line fires in sequence—proof of the army’s new discipline. Ferreiro considers von Steuben the most important of all the volunteers from overseas who flocked to America to join the Revolution. Born a commoner in 1730, Captain Steuben served on the general staff of Frederick the Great during the Seven Years' War. One soldier's first impression of the Baron was "of the ancient fabled God of War … he seemed to me a perfect personification of Mars. Meanwhile, he wrote detailed lists of officers’ duties, giving them more responsibility than in English systems. In 1777, he traveled to France, where he heard talk of glories and riches to be won in a revolution across the Atlantic Ocean. In the winter of 1778-1779, General von Steuben went to Philadelphia to write his book of regulations. The Continental Congress had grown tired of foreign mercenaries coming to America and demanding a high rank and pay, based on promises made to them by the American ambassadors. At one point, he even claimed he’d turned down paid positions with the Holy Roman Empire to serve in the United States. Baron von Steuben: The Life and Legacy of the Prussian General Who Drilled the Continental Army at Valley Forge During the Revolutionary War The British Are Coming The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777 (The One soldier's first impression of the Baron was \"of the ancient fabled God of War he seemed to me a perfect personification of Mars. The Baron used the Commander in Chief's personal guard unit and men from each state, about 120 men total, as a model company to demonstrate each new lesson. In 1778, Von Steuben met Washington for the first time at the winter camp in Valley Forge, Penn. Von Steuben helped to found the Society of the Cincinnati, and then resigned his American commission in 1784. Baron Von Steuben had enlisted in the Prussian army when he was 17, eventually becoming an aide-de-camp to Frederick the Great. The same day, Steuben was handed his commission from the Continental Congress, as Inspector General, with the rank of Major General. Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben was born on September 17, 1730 in the fortress town of Magdeburg in the Kingdom of Prussia. After his adolescent years, he joined the military and was ranked as a captain in the Prussian Army. Steuben became an American citizen by act of the Pennsylvania legislature in March 1784 (and later by the New York authorities in July 1786). Throughout the war, Steuben had continually asked Congress for more money for his expenses. He arrived at the camp on February 23, 1778. Baron Von Steuben was born … Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand Freiherr von Steuben (born Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin Freiherr von Steuben; September 17, 1730 – November 28, 1794), also referred to as Baron von Steuben (German: [fɔn ˈʃtɔʏbn̩]), was a Prussian and later an American military officer. As he could not speak or write English, Steuben originally wrote the drills in French, the military language of Europe at the time. Next, von Steuben headed to York, Pennsylvania, the temporary American capital while the British occupied Philadelphia. After the war, he continued petitioning for compensation for his services. His outstanding service got him assigned to Frederick the Great's headquarters. Learn about Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben in the American Revolution & share on our Revolutionary War forum & blog In 1764 Steuben became chamberlain to Fürst Josef Friedrich Wilhelm of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. Speaking virtually no English and at an unexpected ebb in his professional fortunes, Steuben nevertheless brought a depth of military training and grasp of command techniques sorely needed by the bedraggled, ragtag army. In less than two months in spring 1778, von Steuben rallied the battered, ill-clothed, near-starving army. It is clearly sympathetic to von/de Steuben, and makes a firm case that von Steuben was much more important to the patriot cause than for just his work at Valley Forge for three months in 1778. Most of his adolescent years were spent in Russia, but with his father at the age of 10, they returned to Germany. Congress, desperate for volunteers earlier in the war, had been overwhelmed by unemployed Europeans eager for military jobs, and the number of officers from overseas had begun to stir resentment among American-born officers. Up to this time, the American officers had accepted the British practice of letting the sergeants drill the men, as it was thought to be ungentlemanly for officers to do so. Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben, also referred to as the Baron von Steuben, was a Prussian-born military officer who served as inspector general and Major General of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Two weeks after the celebration, the Marquis de Lafayette led a reconnaissance force of 2,200 to observe the British evacuation from Philadelphia. This casual acquaintance was renewed in France while Steuben was serving as Grand Marshall to the Prince of Hollenzollern-Hechingen. 2. Baron von Steuben's legacy is twofold. (The (The conversation of Frederick’s inner court circle was peppered with homoerotic banter, and his residence included a Friendship Temple celebrating the homoerotic … Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand Steuben, (b. Sept. 17, 1730 – d. Nov. 28, 1794) also referred to as Baron von Steuben, served as Inspector General and a Major General of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, as well as George Washington’s chief of … Von Steuben died there in … California Do Not Sell My Info Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, better known as Baron von Steuben (1730-1794), was a Prussian military officer who contributed to the training of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Keys to movements: 1. Consequently, he was forced to retire from New York City to his land holdings in order to live out the remainder of his life. Because of associations with the British, the Revolution was especially detrimental to the status of the ... the Anglican Church became the Episcopal Church after the American Revolution. After the war, the governor of New York granted von Steuben a huge wilderness estate in the Mohawk Valley as a reward for his service in the war. Baron von Steuben was given a Congressional pension of $2500 a year and granted a confiscated Loyalist estate in New Bridge, New Jersey. Baron von Steuben By Jane Runyon 1 Not everyone who fought in the Revolutionary War was a colonist. His importance to the Revolution is evident in Washington’s last act as commanding general. Recognizing the young officer's skill, Frederick the Great placed von Steuben on his personal staff as an aide-de-camp and in 1762 admitted him to the special class on warfare that he taught. The two stayed in Kronstadt until the the Russo-Turkish War began. To explain, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben; a Prussian mercenary created the first sets of rules, regulations, and procedures for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.The Continental Army was the first United States Army. He had learned the methods of war in what many considered to be the greatest and most advanced army in the world at the time. The letter introduced him as "His Excellency, Lieutenant General von Steuben, Apostle of Frederick the Great." Arrangements were made for Steuben to be paid following the successful completion of the war according to his contributions. In 1779, he codified his lessons into the Army’s Blue Book. King of Prussia, PA Off the drilling field, von Steuben befriended the troops. The baron’s lessons didn’t just make the American troops look impressive in parades—under his tutelage, they became a formidable battlefield force. After the war, Congress granted von Steuben a life annuity and New York State deeded him a large parcel of land in appreciation for his wartime contributions. O… On February 23, 1778, Frederick William Baron von Steuben reported to General George Washington at the Continental Army's bleak winder encampment at Valley Forge. Washington declared May 6, 1778 a day of celebration. Terms of Use Furthermore, Baron von Steuben was a prominent drill-master and this proved to be his illustrious forte (Hakim 117). Erick Trickey is a writer in Boston, covering politics, history, cities, arts, and science. Steuben's title while in the Prussian army as a staff officer was Deputy to the Quartermaster General. In 1764, he was Hofmarschall in the court of Josef Friedrich Wilhelm, a position he held until 1775. Now—following common military practice of the era—they had camped for the winter. Steuben set a precedent by working with the troops directly. It was illustrated by Captain Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the man who would later design Washington, D.C. Major General Friedrich Wilhelm Baron von Steuben (1730 - 1794) Baron von Steuben (1730 - 1794) Before the snows melted that winter, the newly-christened Major General initiated a training plan to whip Washington’s inexperienced soldiers into shape and turn them into an efficient fighting force. For the next twelve years, Steuben worked as the chamberlain of the kingdom of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. He was instructor and supply officer for General Nathanael Greene's southern army, which fought the key battles that led to the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781. He went out into the camp to talk with the officers and men, inspect their huts, and scrutinize their equipment. Through St. Germain, Steuben was introduced to the American ambassadors to France, Silas Deane and Benjamin Franklin. He was quoted as saying "no European army could have held together in such circumstances." He walked among the 100 men in formation at Valley Forge, adjusting their muskets. Short enlistments meant constant turnover and little order. In September 1777, the disgraced baron sailed from France to volunteer for the Continental Army, bankrolled by a loan from his friend, French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais. Born into a military family in 1730—at first, his last name was the non-noble Steuben—he was 14 when he watched his father direct Prussian engineers in the 1744 siege of Prague. Facts about Baron von Steuben 8: a baron Steuben became a baron in 1771. “He was confronting a wrecked army. Membership came with a title: Freiherr, meaning “free lord,” or baron. or In 1790, Congress gave him a pension of $2500 a year which he had to keep until his death. Baron von Steuben retired from the army after the war and passed the last years of his life at Steubenville, New York, where he died in 1794. They were then given to the brigade inspectors, who made copies of the next lesson in the orderly book for each respective brigade and regiment. On May 6, 1778, the Continental Army showed off its newly acquired skills when they celebrated the news of the French Alliance. Though von Steuben raged and cursed in a garbled mixture of French, English, and German, his instructions and presence began to build morale. “[It was] Steuben’s ability to bring this army the kind of training and understanding of tactics that made them able to stand toe to toe with the British,” he says. But Valley Forge, their winter quarters, was nearly as punishing as battle: hastily built huts, cruel temperatures, scarce food. “The trappings of his horse, the enormous holsters of his pistols, his large size, and his strikingly martial aspect, all seemed to favor the idea.”. Baron von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge On this day in history, February 23, 1778, Baron von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge. “Its greatness came from its professionalism, its hardiness, and the machine-like precision with which it could maneuver on the battlefield,” wrote Paul Lockhart in his 2008 biography of von Steuben, The Drillmaster of Valley Forge. Baron Friedrich Von Steuben Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben, also known as Baron von Steuben, was born in 1730 in Magedeburg, Prussia (modern-day Germany). He showed them how to march at 75 steps a minute, then 120. Von Steuben died there in … Von Steuben Day is a holiday traditionally held on a weekend in mid-September (von Steuben was born September 17), celebrating the Prussian-born Baron Friedrich von Steuben, who arrived in the United States as a volunteer offering his services to General George Washington in the American Revolutionary War.. Why? A brief biographical profile of the American Revolution figure Baron von Steuben, written by Alpha History authors. In this way, uniform maneuvers and discipline was given to the army in a very rapid and orderly fashion. Get the best of Smithsonian magazine by email. However, he could also be a very difficult character whose command capabilities were very questionable. In 1777, Claude “Baron Steuben has arrived at camp,” Washington wrote soon after. Strangely, many historians regard a gay Prussian Baron; and not George Washington, as the father of the United States Army. Following is an abridged history that appeared in the November 16, 1881, Messenger, which draws upon a contemporary news account from the New York Evening Post of October 22 of that same year. Baron von Steuben After the War for Independence, Baron Von Steuben remained in America and served the church faithfully as an elder. After that, von Steuben attained the rank of Lieutenant General, and was sent to serve with General George Washington at Valley Forge. The Franco-American alliance eventually shook the nerve of British officers, and fearing that they would be set upon by the French naval force if they remained in Philadelphia, the British marched on to New York City on June 18, 1778. Baron von Steuben, the German-born general of the Revolutionary War, died in 1794, of an unknown illness. In 1747, at 17, von Steuben enlisted in the Prussian army as a lance-corporal. “You say to your soldier ‘Do this and he doeth it’; but I am obliged to say [to the American soldier]: ‘This is the reason why you ought to do that: and then he does it.’”. Well, years passed, and in 1776 the Baron Von Steuben was bored, out of money, didn’t have any good wars to fight, and his chief rival in the palace was going around telling everyone that Von Steuben should be fired because he was gay (there’s no evidence to support this claim one way or the other). Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben was born on September 17, 1730, in the fortress town of Magdeburg in Prussia but spent most of the first decade of his life in Russia with his father. Baron Von Steuben had arrived to find a demoralized, under-equipped, poorly-prepared group of farmers. Following in his father's footsteps, Steuben joined the Prussian Army in 1747, when he was 17 years old. Steuben would have to go to America and present himself to Congress strictly as a volunteer. They took the deal and sent von Steuben to Valley Forge. It was March 19, 1778, almost three years into the Revolutionary War. The baron found soldiers without uniforms, rusted muskets without bayonets, companies with men missing and unaccounted for. General Washington directed that the book be adopted as the Keep up-to-date on: © 2020 Smithsonian Magazine. Shortly following the peace treaty, he was discharged from the Prussian army on April 29, 1763. St. Germain later became the French Minister of War during the American Revolution. And though the baron was appalled at the condition of the army he was tasked with making over, he soon developed an appreciation for its soldiers. He served as adjutant to the free battalion of General Johann von Mayr and was promoted to first lieutenant in 1759. In 1771, he received the title of Baron, from the Prince of Hollenzollern-Hechingen. He inquired about serving in the British, French, and Austrian armies, but no positions materialized. “Monmouth vindicated Steuben as an organizer,” wrote Lockhart. Since Steuben had financial problem after he was discharged from the Prussian army, she hoped to borrow some money from Prince when he accompanied him in that year to France. Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was born in Prussia. Von Steuben joined the Prussian Army at age 17, serving as a second lieutenant during the Seven Years' War. In 1762, he was released, promoted to captain, and he eventually became an aide-de-camp to Frederick the Great. 17th Annual Photo Contest Finalists Announced. Baron von Steuben joined the Prussian Army at age 17. The never-proven, anonymously reported rumor destroyed von Steuben’s reputation in Germany. His keen military mind and charismatic leadership led George Washington to name him the Continental Army’s acting inspector general soon after his arrival at its camp in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Steuben would write the new drills at night, staying only several days ahead of the whole army. Vote Now! When they lost the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777, the British had seized Philadelphia. With the war over, Steuben resigned from service and first settled on Manhattan Island, where he became a prominent figure and elder in the German Reformed Church. Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Steuben never married, and he died on his 16,000 acre farm tract in the Mohawk Valley of New York, on November 28, 1794. In 1769, the prince of nearby Baden named him to the chivalric Order of Fidelity. He was wounded at the Battle of Prague, where the Prussian army was victorious, despite facing twice as many Austrian troops. He had a direct impact on the fighting efficiency of Washington's army during the American Revolutionary War. Steuben made a favorable enough impression upon Washington to be appointed temporary Inspector General. Von Steuben eventually wrote his instructions down, in French, and they were translated to English by Alexander Hamilton and Nathaneal Greene. Duponceau and Captain Benjamin Walker translated it into English. “Congress had sternly warned they wanted no more foreigners arriving in America with contracts for brigadier and major generalships in their trunks,” Fleming wrote. The battle was essentially a draw, but the Continental Army fought the British to a standstill. It took him four months to make them an Army. So, von Steuben put the entire army through Prussian-style drills, starting with a model company of 100 men. Source: Library of Congress Thanks in part to this disparity in drill and battle skills, the American attack at Germantown broke down. These men would be promoted in rank over deserving American officers, causing discontent in the army. Enlisting around age 16, von Steuben rose to the rank of lieutenant and learned the discipline that made the Prussian army the best in Europe. However, at the end of the war, the king reduced his army and Baron von Steuben found himself without a job. His exaggerated reputation spread fast. Most of his adolescent years were spent in Russia, but with his father at the age of 10, they returned to Germany. What he found was an army short of everything, except spirit. They arrived in Portsmouth, in what is today Maine, on December 1, 1777, where they were almost arrested for being British because the Baron had mistakenly outfitted them in red uniforms. It became known as the "Blue Book," and it was used by the United States Army until 1814. To one awestruck 16-year-old private, the tall, portly baron in the long blue cloak was as intimidating as the Roman god of war. The Army still uses some portions of it in training manuals today, including von Steuben’s instructions on drill and ceremonies. Only the highest recommendation would make an impression back home. “He appears to be much of a gentleman, and as far as I have had an opportunity of judging, a man of military knowledge and acquainted with the world.” Washington’s confidence in von Steuben grew quickly. Benedict Arnold, originally a British officer, switched to the American side partway through the war. He was granted land by the states of New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, of which he sold portions, but these payments never quite offset his living expenses. There were many foreign, but significant events in the life of von Steuben. Soldiers gaped at the sight of a German nobleman, in a French-style black beaver hat, drilling poorly clothed troops. Forced to reinvent himself, von Steuben spent 11 years as court chamberlain in Hohenzollern-Hechingen, a tiny German principality. After the war, the governor of New York granted von Steuben a huge wilderness estate in the Mohawk Valley as a reward for his service in the war. After the war, the governor of New York granted von Steuben a huge wilderness estate in the Mohawk Valley as a reward for his service in the war. In those days, many people would travel over the world fighting for anyone who needed them. When his father returned to Prussia, Steuben was … He then tried unsuccessfully to join the ranks of the French and Austrian armies. Baron von Steuben: An Unknown Revolutionary War Hero Posted on March 21, 2019 by Tom Clavin Aside from George Washington himself, perhaps the most remarkable character in the story of Valley Forge is the Check out this biography to know about his birthday, childhood, family … But Europe’s great armies, mostly at peace, didn’t hire him. 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