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Baron von Steuben

Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus Steuben, Baron von Steuben (November 15, 1730-November 28, 1794) was a German army officer who served with George Washington in the American Revolutionary War and is credited with teaching American troops the essentials of military drill and discipline. He is considered one of the founding spirits of the United States Army.

He was born at Magdeburg, Prussia, the son of William Augustine Steuben (1699-1783), also a soldier. At fourteen he served as a volunteer in a campaign of the War of the Austrian Succession. He became a lieutenant in 1753, and fought in the Seven Years' War.

He was made adjutant-general of the free corps in 1754 but re-entered the regular army in 1761, and became an aide to Frederick the Great in 1762.

In 1777 his friend, the Count St. Germain, then the French minister of war, persuaded him to go to the assistance of the American colonists, who needed discipline and instruction in military tactics. Steuben arrived at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on December 1, 1777, and offered his services to Congress as a volunteer. On February 23, 1778 von Steuben arrived at Valley Forge to help to train the Continental Army and in March 1778 he began drilling the inexperienced soldiers stationed there. By May, when he was made inspector-general, with the rank of major-general, he had established a thorough system of discipline and economy.

The results of his work were clear in the next campaign, particularly at the Battle of Monmouth, where he rallied the disordered, retreating troops of General Charles Lee. His Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States (1779) was of great value to the army.

He was a member of the court-martial which tried Major John Andre[?] in 1780, and after General Horatio Gates's defeat at Battle of Camden, Steuben was placed in command of the district of Virginia, with special instructions "to collect, organize, discipline and expedite the recruits for the Southern army."

In April 1781 he was superseded in command of Virginia by the Marquis de Lafayette and later took part in the Battle of Yorktown.

He retired from the service after the war and passed the last years of his life at Steubenville, New York[?], where he died. New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey gave him grants of land for his services, and Congress passed a vote of thanks and gave him a gold-hilted sword in 1784 and later granted him a pension of $2400.



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