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Saving the Battlefields Where America Was Forged

A Project of the Civil War Trust |  civilwar.org

Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben (1730-1794) Betsy Ross Flag

Prussian General

Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben

(Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts)

Upon arriving in Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78, Steuben found the undisciplined army under General Washington in a precarious state of disorder. Though the American citizen soldiers paled in comparison to the mighty Prussian professionals he was familiar with, Steuben saw potential within the spirited American troops. He encouraged, lambasted and personally trained a model company of 100 men in the art of tactics, drill, and discipline, who in turn trained all other units that winter. The soldiers responded superbly to the “Old German’s” system, and genuinely loved him for his antics, enthusiasm, constant swearing and sincere affection.  For his meritorious role in forging the army into a reputable fighting force, Steuben was promoted as Inspector General of the Army, and was present for the final campaign at Yorktown which ultimately led to American victory. 

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