The most famous German-American soldier in the Revolution was  Baron Friedrich  Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben. Von  Steuben's service to the American Revolution was invaluable. It was von Steuben, who  in the words of Alexander Hamilton, "introduced into the  army  a regular  formation and exact discipline" and established a "spirit  of order and economy."

Von Steuben was born in 1730 in Magdeburg, Prussia as  the son of an officer in the army of Frederick the Great.  At  the age  of  16 von Steuben entered the Prussian army and  displayed  such outstanding  ability  that  he soon became a member  of the Prussian general staff. He fought in several battles in Europe and soon  became a  favorite of Frederick the Great. After one conflict, the  title  of baron was conferred on him. He was now Baron von Steuben.

Baron Von Steuben offered his services to the American colonies after  the Revolution had begun. In Paris he met with Benjamin Franklin and other Americans who  were seeking support for  American  independence.  Baron Von Steuben immediately set sail for America and landet in New  Hampshire in  December  1777 and was received with the highest  honors  by  the Continental  Congress.  He offered his  services  as  a   volunteer, requesting  only a guarantee of his expenses and commissions  for  his two aides.

He traveled directly to Washington who was encamped at Valley Forge. German-American farmers gave the Prussian general a hearty ovation and welcome along  the  way  to  Valley  Forge.  General  Washington  was impressed by von Steuben's military ability and experience and  became his lifelong friend.

Von Steuben immediately  began the hard  work  of  transforming  the shivering, ragged, undisciplined army into a well-trained, disciplined army. In 1778 he wrote a book of military regulations called the  Blue Book. It became the standard instruction manual for the American army. The  good results of his work were soon evident. The  American  troops were  now equal to the best British soldiers. Von Steuben  showed  his genius  by  adapting  European methods  to  American  conditions.  His careful  training  of  the  army helped them  attain  victory  on  the battlefield.

After the Revolution, von Steuben formulated plans for the  founding of a military academy, and thus, laid the basis for West Point. In his outline he showed that he was not merely a soldier, but also a man  of culture and refinement. He stipulated that there should be courses  on history,  geography, law and literature. As a reward for his  services the Congress granted him 16,000 acres of land near Utica, New York. He became  the  first  president of the German Society  of  New  York,  a German-American society designed to help recent immigrants to New York.

Without  the participation of German-Americans, it would  have  been impossible  to attain victory in the American Revolution. At the  time of  the Revolution  the German-Americans were ten  per  cent  of  the population.  They overwhelmingly supported the cause of liberty.  Only about one-third of the Anglo-Americans supported the Revolution.

Von Steuben's achievements presented by


Philadelphia Chapter