Preface: There was a series of events that led to the need for this historical analysis. Below is a general chronology providing context. There were, no doubt, numerous other events that occurred— newspaper articles, magazine articles, government reports, meetings, etc.
Earlier that summer, in his role as diplomatic minister to France, Benjamin Franklin was empowered to seek out skilled foreign military officers to aid in the struggle against England. In Paris, a count introduced Franklin to a Prussian general at loose ends who might just fill the bill. Franklin was impressed by the commanding height and aristocratic bearing of the year old officer who introduced himself as Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben.
By Victoria A. An intellectual powerhouse credited with an extraordinary number of inventions and writings, he also was one of the three most pivotal players in the solidifying of the new colonial government, along with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Franklin was also a statesman, having been Speaker of the Pennsylvania Assembly and President of Pennsylvania — a position equivalent to governor, today.
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The revolutionary struggle was at its lowest ebb when General George Washington chose Valley Forge as a secure location for the winter of When the 12, poorly fed, ill-equipped Continentalsweary from long marches, had staggered into Valley Forge, only about one in three had shoes, and many of their feet had left bloody footprints from the marching. Many soldiers wounded in previous battles died from exposure.
After getting in some trouble for fooling around with young soldiers in Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, an experienced military officer, came to America with a little help from Benjamin Franklinwho lived in Paris at the time, trying to convince the French to come to our aid in fighting the British. George Washington asked for von Steuben to help in bringing some sort of order to the tattered Continental troops serving in the Revolutionary War. Washington sent him to Valley Forge in February, He showed up in a flamboyant, massive sleigh, sporting 24 jingling bells, pulled by six black draft horses.
There is probably no character in American history more miscast than Baron von Steuben. Since he was from Germany and since he taught the manual of arms and orders of march to the American army during the revolution, it is assumed that he was a precise martinet, a perfect Prussian. He was the opposite, very much a dreamer who overindulged his appetites.
This is a name that many may not be familiar with, myself included, but Baron von Steuben is credited with being one of the fathers of the Continental Army, teaching military drills, tactics and disciplines. He is still considered one of the most important German Americans, as his training of the young American troops helped the United States gain independence from Britain during the American Revolution. He was rumored to be homosexual, although records of his relationships are only referenced in correspondences since homosexuality was illegal at the time. Von Steubenwas born in Madgeburg, Germany.