Steuben, Baron von

Steuben, Baron von (Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin)

(1730–94) soldier; born in Magdeburg, Prussia (now Germany). The son of an army officer, he saw service during the Seven Years War and became an aide to Frederick the Great; his title came from service under a minor German prince. After meeting Benjamin Franklin in Paris, he was given letters of introduction to George Washington and went to America in December 1777. He joined Washington at Valley Forge and immediately began to introduce European methods of training and discipline. In May 1778 he was appointed inspector general of the Continental army, in which post he helped shape the raw American colonials into a credible military force. He himself saw action at Monmouth and Yorktown. He helped Washington plan for the demobilization of the Continental army and the future defense of the states, and Washington's final official act as commander was to commend Steuben for his service. He became an American citizen by act of the Pennsylvania legislature in 1783 and several states gave him large tracts of land. He spent most of his final years in New York, regarded as one of the true heroes of the American Revolution.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.