The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Steuben, Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand, Baron von

The Encyclopedia Americana
Steuben, Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand, Baron von

Edition of 1920. See also Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

STEUBEN, stū'bĕn (Ger. stoi'bĕn), Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand, Baron von, Prussian soldier and American general: b. Magdburg, Prussia, 15 Nov. 1730; d. Steuben, Oneida County, N. Y., 28 Nov. 1794. Before coming to America he had attained the rank of lieutenant-general in the Prussian army, and had won distinction in the Seven Years' War. At its close he retired from military life, but was persuaded by colonial representatives in France to come to the assistance of the American people. He at once became an enthusiastic supporter of the American cause, and, tendering his services to Congress in 1777, was assigned to the main army under Washington at Valley Forge. His splendid discipline and ability as an organizer were at once recognized by Washington, who recommended his appointment as inspector-general of the entire army. Unable to attain a separate command in the open field, he spent most of his time recruiting the forces sent to those who took a more prominent part in the war; but it was undoubtedly due to his almost unrecognized efforts that the American troops were from the first so well organized and disciplined a body. He attained at last his coveted place as an officer in the line, and as major-general of the forces at Yorktown received the first offer of capitulation from Lord Cornwallis. Refusing to be relieved by Lafayette, he was allowed to remain with his command until the complete surrender of the enemy. At the close of the war he was refused pecuniary remuneration which he had asked of the colonics in the event of their success, but to recuperate his fortunes, abandoned for their cause, was subsequently awarded several grants of land, among them a township in northern New York, where he spent the remainder of his life in a log-cabin, within the present limits of Utica, N. Y., and where a monument to his memory was unveiled 3 Aug. 1914. Consult Sparks, ‘American Biography’; Kapp, ‘Life of Steuben’ (1860).