Kalb, Johann

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Kalb, Johann

Kalb, Johann (Ger. yōˈhän kälp), 1721–80, American general in the Revolution, known generally as Baron de Kalb, b. Hüttendorf, Germany. He assumed his title for military reasons and as Jean de Kalb served France in the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War. He again served France in 1768 as a secret agent in the English colonies in America. Silas Deane offered (1776) commissions to Kalb, Lafayette, and other European soldiers of fortune, which the Continental Congress at first refused to honor. Finally Kalb was made general and was with Washington at Valley Forge. In 1780 he was made second in command to Horatio Gates in the Carolina campaign, and he died (Aug. 19, 1780) from wounds received in the battle of Camden.


See A. E. Zucker, General de Kalb, Lafayette's Mentor (1966).

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Kalb, Johann (Baron de)

(1721–80) soldier of fortune; born in Hüttendorf, Germany. Of peasant ancestry, Kalb became a French infantry lieutenant by age 22. Styling himself "Jean de Kalb" or "Baron de Kalb," after serving with distinction in the Seven Years War his search for glory led him on a secret mission to America for the French government (1768). He returned to America with his friend the Marquis de Lafayette (1777) and served under him before wintering as a revolutionary major general under Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge (1777–78). While serving under Gen. Horatio Gates in South Carolina, he was mortally wounded near Camden in a battle against Cornwallis' troops.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.