The German Element in the War of American Independence/3 Baron von Steuben
BARON VON STEUBEN.
O mostri almen ch'alla virtù latina,
Or show at least that to Latin virtue, or nothing is wanting or discipline alone.
Tasso, Ger. Lib.
The name which, passing through the variations of Stoebe, Steube, and Stoeben, finally took its place in modern history under the form of Von Steuben, first appears in the thirteenth century in the list of noblemen who held feudal manors and estates as vassals of Mansfield and Magdeburg. Like the other nobles of the part of Germany to which they belonged, they became Protestants from the beginning of the Reformation, and like the rest of the minor nobility grew poor by the changes introduced into the system of warfare, while the territorial princes grew rich by the confiscation of church property. During the Thirty Years War, the branch from which the general descended was separated from the parent stock, and won distinction through its successive generations by the pen and the sword. One among them, his grandfather, an eminent theologian, was known by an “able commentary on the New Testament and the Apocalypse.” Another, his father's elder brother, was distinguished as a mathematician, a writer upon military science, and the inventor of a new system of fortification. His father, Wilhelm Augustine, was educated at Halle with his two elder brothers, entered the military service of Prussia at the age of sixteen, was married at thirty-one, when a captain of engineers, and, after having served with distinction in the great wars of the century and filled positions of confidence, and trust under Frederick the Great, died in honorable poverty at the age of eighty-four, on the 26th of April, 1783. Of his ten children, only three, two sons and a daughter, lived to grow up; and of these the subject of our history, Frederick William Augustus Henry Ferdinand, was the eldest. At the time of his birth, November 15, 1730, his father was stationed at the fortress of Magdeburg on the Elbe, and while he was yet a child he followed him, as the duties of service called him, to Cronstadt and the Crimea. When the father returned to Prussia, the son was barely ten years old. Thus all the associations of his infancy and childhood were military: guns, drums, trumpets, forifications, drills, and parades. Before he was fully turned of fourteen another chapter was added to his rude experience: he served under his father as a volunteer in the campaign of 1744, and shared the perils and hardships of the long and bloody siege of Prague.
Fortunately his father, who had received a good education himself, felt the importance of giving the best that he could command to his son. And fortunately, too, the Jesuits colleges of Neisse and Breslau afforded the means of thorough elementary instruction. Here young Steuben laid the foundations of a superior knowledge of mathematics and acquired a tincture of history and polite literature. And here also he formed an idea of the importance of intellectual ulture, which led him, when first called into active life, to turn to account every opportunity of adding to his store.
About his profession there could be no doubt, even if all his early impressions had not filled him with aspirations for military glory, there could have been no question about the surest road to distinction under Frederick the Great. At seventeen he entered the army as a cadet. In two years he became an ensign; in four more, a lieutenant, and first lieutenant just a year before the breaking out of the Seven Years War. Of this period two letters are the only words of his own that have been preserved, and those words are in bad French. But the thoughts are those of an ardent young man who knew his profession and loved it, and asked nothing from fortune but a chance to distinguish himself. “Yes, my dear Henry, if there is a war, I promise you at the end of a second campaign that your friend will be either in Hades or at the head of a regiment.”
And soon the war came, the great Seven Years War; not indeed a war of principles and ideas, a political war merely, yet in military science the connecting link between the great wars of Eugene and Maryborough and the development of strategy by Napoleon. Steuben's part in this war was neither a prominent nor a brilliant one. The first campaign found him a first lieutenant; the last left him a major and in temporary command of a regiment. He was wounded at the battle of Prague in May, 1757, and shared the triumph of Rossbach in November, 1757. The next year gave him a wider field. The brilliant, dashing, dare-devil hero of this war was the General von Mayr, an uneducated, self-made soldier, the illegitimate son of a nobleman, one of those men whom war raises to rank and fortune, and peace sends to the jail or the gallows. Forced into the army by necessity he had resolutely made his way to a command, fighting with equal desperation under different banners, and entering at last the Prussian service in season to take an important part in the Seven Years War. Frederick, who wanted just such a man to oppose to the leaders of the enemy's Croats and Pandours, put him at the head of a free corps, where his dauntless courage and enterprising genius had full play. Steuben became his adjutant-general and followed him through his brilliant campaign of 1758. At the beginning of 1759, death, which had so often passed the bold adventurer by in the field, came to him in his tent; and then Steuben returned to his regiment, with a knowledge of the management of light infantry and a habit of cool and prompt decision in the tumult of battle which he could hardly have learned so soon or so well in any other school.
He was soon appointed adjutant to General von Hülsen, fought under him in the unsuccessful battle of Kay, in July, was wounded in the murderous battle of Kunersdorf, where Frederick commanded in person, and having, somewhat like Mélas at Marengo, won a victory and prepared his bulletins, was defeated with terrible slaughter on the same day and by the same enemy. Then for two years, from August, 1759, to September, 1761, we lose sight of him. But that he passed them in good service is evident from his reappearance as aid to General Knoblauch when Platen made his brilliant march into Poland against the Prussian rear. And here for a moment the names of father and son appear together, for the elder Steuben, as major of engineers, built the bridge over the Wartha, which the younger Steuben crossed; too swiftly perhaps to clasp his father's hand or do more than exchange a hurried glance of recognition as the headlong torrent of war swept him onward. Some skillful marching came next, with overwhelming odds to make head against, and the scene closes for a time with a blockade and a capitulation: a blockade in an open town desperately defended till ammunition and provisions failed and half the town was on fire, and an honorable capitulation with flying colors and beating drums and all the honors of war.
In this surrender Steuben was the negotiator, and by its terms he followed his general and brother officers to St. Petersburg as prisoner of war. But the imprisonment was a pleasant one, for the Grand Duke Peter, a warm admirer of Frederick, took him into special favor; and it proved, in the end, a surer path to promotion than active participation in a victory, for he did his king such good service with the grand duke that on his return to Prussia he was made captain, and raised from the staff of a subordinate general to that of the great commander himself. And here his military education received its highest finish; for besides what he learnt in the daily performance of his duty under the king's own eye, he was admitted to the lessons upon the higher principles of the art of war which Frederick himself gave to a limited number of young officers, whom he had selected, not for birth or fortune, but for talent and zeal. And thus it was as aid to the king that he took part in the siege of Schweidnitz, and saw the curtain fall upon the checkered scenes of this long and bloody war. The king, well pleased with his services, bestowed upon him a lay benefice with an income of four hundred thalers.
Peace came, and with it an unsparing reduction of the army. “Lieutenant Blücher may go to the devil ” was the expressive phrase with which the future marshal was sent back to private life; and among the reasons assigned for Steuben's withdrawal from the army is dissatisfaction with the new position assigned him in it. However this may be, we find him, soon after the peace of Hubertsburg, traveling for amusement, staying a short time at Halle and Dessau, then going to Hamburg, where he made an acquaintance that was to exercise a decisive influence upon his future career at a decisive moment, the acquaintance of the Count St. Germain; and last to the baths of Wildbad in Suabia, where he was presented to the Prince of Hohenzollern Hechingen, and, through the influence of the Princess of Würtemberg and Prince Henry of Prussia, received the appointment of grand marshal of his court. An honorable appointment, indeed, but dull work, one would think, for a soldier in the flower of his age. From infancy, with one brief exception, Steuben had known no life but that of fortress and camp; had been accustomed to be up before day and measure his time by drum-beat and trumpet. He had been constantly moving to and fro with his life in his hand, subject to the chances of a hair's-breadth more or a hair's-breadth less, in the line of a musket-bullet or cannon-ball. He had often seen men whom he had messed with in the morning lying around him at night wounded, or dying, or dead. And now he was to lay him down calmly under a gilded canopy, sleep softly on down, and let the summer and winter sun outstrip him in their rising. His companions were to be men who spoke in whispers, and bowed long and low; his duties, the ushering in and out the presence chamber those of higher rank, and seeing that those of lower rank were duly attended, each in his degree; stifling intrigues, allaying discontents, composing discords; watching over the details of a great household — for a court is nothing more — and giving them an air of dignity by personal gravity and official decorum.
Steuben's character was passing into a new phase, revealing, as such transitions always do, qualities hitherto unknown to their possessor or those who knew him best. He had had little time for the dreams of youth. Life for him had been full of stern realities. His only ambition, the thirst of military glory, had been imperfectly gratified. He had not won a regiment in two years, as he had promised his friend Henry that he would, but neither had he gone to Hades; and to have been an aid and a chosen pupil of Frederick was something to dwell upon with satisfaction, even though it left him with but four hundred thalers over his captain's pay. How small the prospects of advancement in peacetime were, his father's example showed him: a veteran of forty-seven years service, without a blot on his escutcheon, and still only a major of engineers. And meditating upon these things he could lay down his sword without regret; and bid farewell to all the habits and associations of all his life.
But why, in place of that keen, stout sword, with its plain leather scabbard and plain brass guard familiar to a soldier's hand, take up the flimsy blade fit only to rest idly on a courtier's thigh or be crossed with some other flimsy blade in a courtier's quarrel? Rest, rest, rest — Steuben was weary and wanted rest. Far down in the depths of his nature, but overlaid hitherto and hidden by the necessities of his position, lay a love of ease, a longing for social life and the pleasures of refined intercourse. But that ease, to satisfy the old soldier's ideas of form and hierarchic subordination, must be accompanied by dignity; that repose, to satisfy the old soldier's habits of daily occupation, must wear a semblance of activity. And where were these to be found in such happy combination as in the cyclic frivolities of a petty German court, wherein the daily trifles of life were performed with all the pompous ceremonial of a great empire?
And thus, too, we find the measure of Steuben's political sentiments at this pausing point in his career. Frederick had burnt his “Antimachiavel” years before, and reigned like a voluntary disciple of the eighteenth chapter of the “Prince.” To the common eye thrones were never firmer. The “Contrat Social” had but just come forth from the fervid brain of Jean Jacques. The “Lettres Persanes” and “Esprit des Loix” were doing their work surely but in apparent silence. Few shared the Cardinal Fleury's dread of an approaching end of the world. But Frederick, who protected the French Raynal and frowned on his own Germans when they ventured to treat profoundly some of the subjects of the superficial abbé's declamations, was not the man to encourage the study of Rousseau or Montesquieu in his camp, and the camp had been Steuben's world. Personally independent and possessing an almost exaggerated sense of dignity, he was still accustomed to call a king his master and look upon the distinctions of rank in civil life as he looked upon them in military life. The rights of the people, the duties of rulers, the true sources of authority, were questions that he had not yet found leisure to discuss, and when the leisure came, there was nothing in his surroundings to invite the discussion. As grand marshal of the court of a German prince he found little in his new surroundings to enlarge the conceptions of the rights of humanity which he had formed in the army of a German king.
In the busy idleness of the petty court Steuben passed nearly ten years; acceptable to the prince for his intelligent zeal and strict performance of his duty, acceptable to courtiers for the dignified amenity of his manners and the justice of his dealings. He had leisure for reading, of which he had once been fond, and for society, in which he was well fitted to shine. The prince loved traveling, and Steuben traveled with him whenever he went to other courts of Germany, and, welcomest duty of all, to Paris, where his rank opened for him the doors of the most celebrated saloons and procured him the acquaintance of the men he most desired to know. So contented was he with this mode of life that he purchased a small country-seat by the name of Weilheim; and thus, but for that “vice of courts” which has ever reigned in them supreme, he might have floated pleasantly on the easy tide to the French Revolution, and drawn his sword once more with comrades of the Seven Years War under the banners of the Duke of Brunswick.
But Steuben was a Protestant, the descendant of Protestants from Luther's day downwards; the court was Roman Catholic, and with priests about it who found it hard that a heretic should stand so high and live so intimately with their sovereign. How they intrigued against him, and how cunningly they strove to sow dissensions betwixt the prince and his grand marshal, we can readily conceive, although the story has not come down to us in all its details. But Steuben, well knowing that whatever the immediate result of the actual contest might be, there could be no return to the tranquillity which had formed the chief charm of his position, discreetly bowed to the blast and resigned; carrying with him into private life the esteem of the prince and the friendship of many eminent men whose friendship he had won under the prince's auspices.
Once more a free man, he seems to have experienced some return of military ambition. For a moment there was a prospect of war, and could he have obtained without much effort the rank he felt himself entitled to, he would have entered the service of the emperor. But his heart was so little in the change that he neglected even to present himself to Joseph, as his friend the Prince de Ligne and General Ried had urged him to do, and the negotiations which he had indolently begun were suffered to fall through. In 1769 the Margrave of Baden had conferred upon him the cross of the order of “la Fidélité;” and now, on resigning his grand marshalship, he first turned his steps towards Carlsruhe, the seat of the margrave's court. Even quieter than that of Hechingen was the life that he led here. Absolute master of his time and of a competent income, he could go whither he would, still sure of meeting or making friends wherever he went. A visit to the country-seat of the Baron von Waldener, in Alsace, brought him once more into contact with the Count St. Germain; and in the winter of 1776, while Washington was struggling through the Jerseys and striking his daring blow at the German mercenaries in Trenton, Steuben was making at Montpellier the acquaintance of the Earl Warwick and Earl Spencer. So intimate did they become that he resolved to extend his circle of travel and make them a visit in England. Paris lay in his way, and as the Count St. Germain had recently been made minister of war, he could not resist the temptation of passing a few days there and congratulating him on his advancement. It was early in May, 1777. Franklin had already taken up his residence at Passy, and was drawing young and old around him. Silas Deane had been in France almost a year. Arthur Lee was there too, busy, active, jealous, suspicious. Beaumarchais was gliding to and fro, as adroit, keen-eyed, and subtle as his own Figaro. Paris was unconsciously vibrating to the touch of the lightning-tamer, and preparing to hail him as the breaker of misused sceptres.
But it was not of this that Steuben was thinking as he reëntered Paris on the 2d of May, but of the new war minister with whom he had talked of Prussian tactics at Hamburg and in Alsatia, and of the gay saloons he had been so much at home in when he visited them with the Prince of Hechingen. He would just glance at them now, just go out to Versailles and tell the count how glad he was to see him in the right place, and then cross over into England and see what kind of a life English noblemen led in their own castles. And as soon as he had made himself comfortable at his hotel, he wrote to tell the count of his arrival and that he should wait upon him at an early day.
“Do not come to Versailles,” was the answer. “In three days I will see you at the arsenal and will send an officer to conduct you thither. We have important questions to discuss together.” And still pondering on this sphinx-like reply, he saw the three days pass by and the officer come, and found himself once more in the presence of his friend.
Then for the first time, perhaps, certainly for the first time with any approach to personal interest, he heard the story of the revolted colonies, of their perils and their resources, of the sympathy which France and Spain felt for them, and of the danger that with all their courage and resolution, with all the secret aid of their European friends, they might still fail for want of a man like him to organize and discipline their citizen soldiers. Here was glory, here was fortune, here was a field (and St. Germain laid his hand upon the map of America as he spoke), such as no European war could afford, for applying the lessons of his great master and demonstrating the superiority of the system which they both believed in so firmly.
Steuben was taken by surprise. In all his guesses at the meaning of St. Germain's letter, he had never thought of this. At first the difficulties and objections rose before him in formidable array. St. Germain answered him at length, trying to meet them all. “What would you advise me, not as a minister but as a friend?” “Sir, as a minister I have no advice to give you on these subjects; but as your friend I would never advise you to do anything which I would not do myself were I not employed in the king's service.”
Thus ended the first interview, and Steuben went thoughtfully down the old stairway which Sully and France's best king but one had often trod together, when the America that he had been asked to go and fight for was a wilderness. Next day they met again. Twenty-four hours' reflection had removed some doubts, awakened some hopes. It was but a distant sound of the trumpet, but the old spirit — the spirit formed in infancy, cherished through boyhood, and accepted in manhood as the chief spring of action — was stirred again. It may be, too, that a still deeper cord had been touched, and that he felt it would be a generous as well as a glorious thing to fight on the side of a republic contending for her liberty. But liberty was a word not yet familiar to his lips. Glory had its meaning and rank its value. Could he be sure of winning them?
With many warnings to be cautious, to keep away from Versailles and not allow himself to be too freely seen in Paris, St. Germain gave him a letter to Beaumarchais; Beaumarchais introduced him to Deane; Deane took him to Franklin. Thus they stood face to face, the philosopher-diplomatist with his Quaker-cut drab, and the soldier-courtier with the glittering star of the order of “Fidélité” on his breast; the eye that had been trained to look closely into the phenomena of nature, and read the workings of the heart in the play of the features, looking straight into the eye that had been trained to look into the cannon's mouth and detect the signs of success or disaster in the wild tumult of battle. “This is no enthusiast,” Franklin must have said to himself as he scanned the sun-embrowned face, the strong features, the well-rounded forehead, the bushy eyebrows, uplifted as if the clear orbs they shaded were ever on the watch, the large nose not wholly Roman but very near it, the full lower lip suggestive of good cheer fully appreciated, and the projecting chin, all borne with the upright precision of a man who had worn a uniform from his childhood. “No young Marquis de Lafayette this, fresh from the schools, with romantic dreams of liberty and human virtue. Here is a sword to sell, perhaps something more; but what are swords good for but to cut men to pieces? and it is rather hard that I, who have passed over fifty of my seventy-one years in trying to teach men how to take care of themselves and convince them that they are never so happy as when they live like brothers — I, who have often said that I never knew a bad peace or a good war, should in my old age become a sharpener of swords and swordsmen.” “A strange way this, of persuading men to come and shed their blood for you,” thought Steuben as he listened incredulously to the suggestion of some grant of a couple of thousand acres of land as a compensation for his services, and with something very like indignation when Franklin told him with “a manner to which he was then little accustomed” (not the court manner, that is, but one that he became well accustomed to in the sequel) “that he had no authority to enter into engagements and could not advance him anything for the expense of his voyage.”
His blood was roused. This was not the way to speak to a man whom the great king had honored with his confidence, and in the heat of his anger away he went to Beaumarchais, to say that he should go immediately back to Germany and did not want to hear anything more about America. Next day he went to Versailles. St. Germain seemed hurt at his decision, but whatever his knowledge of other men may have been, he knew Steuben thoroughly; and instead of breaking with him he invited him to pass a few days at his house. This at least Steuben could not refuse. After dinner the Spanish Embassador, Count Aranda, came in; not, perhaps, altogether by accident. “Here is a man,” said St. Germain as he presented Steuben to him, “who will risk nothing, consequently he will gain nothing.”
When Steuben formed at Montpellier the acquaintance of Earl Spencer and the Earl of Warwick, he formed at the same time the acquaintance of the Prince de Montbarey, who like most of the men of distinction whom he was brought into connection with, conceived a high opinion of his talents and an affection for his person. He too was at Versailles, and Steuben, as St. Germain had doubtless foreseen, went to wait upon him. Another sharp attack upon his resolution by another friend. “I can determine nothing,” he said, “until I return to Germany.” But the idea had taken possession of his mind, and his friends must have felt almost sure of him when they saw him turn his steps homeward instead of going to England.
It has taken us but three pages to tell this story, but it took three months to act it in, and July was near its end when Steuben reached Rastadt. A letter from Beaumarchais was there before him, telling him that a ship and money were ready for him and that Count St. Germain expected his immediate return. A letter from the count himself urged him to hasten back to Versailles. Here, as with Deane, Beaumarchais was evidently acting as the agent of the ministry, and acting in a manner worthy of the author of the “Mariage de Figaro” and the “Mémoire à Consulter.” How could a straightforward, hot-blooded, honor-loving Steuben hope to break through the toils which such a hand had spread?
Just at that time the Prince Louis William of Baden was at Rastadt, and Steuben, who placed great confidence in his judgment, told him the story and showed him the letters. Prince Louis, himself a lieutenant-general in the service of Holland, could see no room for hesitation, and thus between two princes, three counts, and the adroitest of negotiators, the aid-de-camp of the most absolute of kings surrendered himself to the service of the most democratic of republics.
There were still difficult details to arrange. First, Frederick's consent to transfer to Steuben's nephew, the Baron von Canitz, his canonry of Havelberg which now brought him an income of four thousand six hundred livres. Then the fixing upon a definite character to present himself in, and securing, as far as possible, the means of making his application to Congress successful.
It was already known in France that a strong feeling had been excited in America by the facility with which the Congress had given commissions to foreign officers. On the very day that Steuben returned to Paris to resume his negotiations, Washington, from the camp in which he was watching the movements of Sir William Howe, wrote to Franklin “that every new arrival was only a new source of embarrassment to himself, and of disappointment and chagrin to the gentlemen who came over.” It was evident that no Major, no Colonel Steuben could be advanced to a position in which he could introduce the reforms which the French minister felt it to be so important to effect, without seriously offending the just susceptibilities of the native officers. The refusal to confirm Deane's contract with Du Coudray was one of the objections which Steuben had urged after his interview with Franklin. And yet St. Germain and Vergennes were both convinced that without a reform in the organization of the American army, the money and stores of France would be given in vain.
It was decided, therefore, that Steuben should assume the rank of a lieutenant-general, an assumption imperfectly borne out by his actual rank of General of the Circle of Suabia; and to meet the objection that the American agents had no authority to treat with him, that he should merely wait upon them to announce his intention of serving one or two campaigns as a volunteer, and ask letters to the leading members of Congress.
He had not yet seen Vergennes. On the third day after his return Montbarey introduced him to the minister in a special audience. “You are determined, then, to go to America,” said the veteran diplomatist.
“Do you think the idea extravagant?” asked Steuben. “On the contrary, it is the road to fame and distinction; but I strongly recommend you to make an agreement beforehand, and not rely too implicitly on republican generosity.”
Steuben replied that he should make no conditions; but that if the republic should prove ungrateful he was sure that the King of France would not, and that Count Vergennes and the Prince de Montbarey would take care that his services should not go unrewarded. The minister was instantly on his guard. “You know very well that it is impossible for us to make conditions with you. I can only say to you, Go, succeed, and you will never regret the step you have taken.”
His preparations were now made rapidly. With St. Germain he discussed the reforms he proposed to introduce into the American army. From Beaumarchais he received as a loan the money for his outfit and passage. He chose four officers for aids, De l'Enfant, De Romanai, Des Epinières, and De Ponthière. Not knowing English he required a secretary and interpreter, and at Beaumarchais' house he found Peter S. Duponceau, well known some thirty years ago to the citizens of Philadelphia as a hale old man, to the legal world as a skillful lawyer, to publicists as the translator of Bynkershoeck, to the world of letters as the author of a treatise on the Chinese language which won the prize of the Institute of his native France; but then a gay, light-hearted young Frenchman of seventeen, with a remarkable talent for the study of language, and a premonitory passion for English which won him, at the Benedictine convent where he studied, the nickname of L'Anglais. Two vessels were upon the point of sailing for America with part of the arms and stores furnished by Beaumarchais under the name of Hortalez & Co., and the royal commissioner gave Steuben his choice of the two. By the advice of Count Miranda he fixed upon the Heureux, a twenty-four gun ship which was to sail from Marseilles under the name of Le Flamand. Steuben, also, assumed a new name, Frank, and as a protection in case of capture by the English, received dispatches under that name to the governor of Martinique. Then, cheerful, self-reliant, nothing doubting but that two or three years would see him safely returned with a full purse and laureled brow, to talk over his campaigns in the saloons of Paris and at the watering-places of Germany, he embarked with his military family on the 26th of September, 1777, just fifteen days after the battle of Brandywine, and while the weary and half-trained band which before another campaign he was to form into a disciplined army was slowly making its way to the position from whence, in eight days more, it was to make its bold dash upon Germantown.
The Flamand's passage was long, boisterous, and perilous; first down the Mediterranean, along the bold, mountainous coast of Spain, and then, with Africa slowly receding on the left and Spain on the right, and sailing unconsciously over Trafalgar, Steuben took his last look of the Old World with its memories, and stretched boldly out into the Atlantic, on the path of a New World and its hopes.
He was familiar with the monotony of a camp, and found it no bad preparation for the monotony of a ship. To while away the time he amused himself with mathematical calculations, shot at a mark with his companions, read the Abbé Raynal, kindling the hitherto dormant fires of republicanism, and doubtless also often thought long and deeply on the best methods of applying Prussian tactics to an army of freemen. More than once, too, the monotony was broken. A severe gale off the coast of Africa may have awakened unpleasant thoughts of slavery among the Moors. Another, off the coast of Nova Scotia, gave him a foretaste of American winds in November. There were seventeen hundred-weight of gunpowder on board, and the forecastle was three times on fire. There were some gunpowder spirits on board, also, who stirred up a mutiny which was only put down by hard fighting, fourteen against eighty-four. At last the land came in sight, and on a bright, clear, 1st of December the Flamand entered the harbor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Steuben saw for the first time the flag of the republic waving over an American fortress.
Assuming at once the dignity of his rank, he sent Duponceau ashore to announce his arrival to the American commander. And then the waggish youngster, in his scarlet regimentals turned up with blue, won the bet he had made on the passage, that he would kiss the first girl he saw. For walking up to one, as none but a Frenchman could, he told her that he was come to fight the battles of her country, and that before he left his own he had solemnly vowed to ask, as a token of success, a kiss from the first lady he met. The damsel listened, and moved either by a sense of patriotism, or by reverence for the sanctity of a vow, or by the eloquence of young eyes and a fresh uniform, or because she did not disapprove of kissing, held with a becoming blush her cheek or her lips — the record does not say which — to the adventurous salute.
As soon as General Langdon learned that the anchoring ship held a Prussian lieutenant-general, a veteran of the Seven Years War, he hastened on board to welcome him, and, taking him and his suite in his barge, brought them to the landing, whither the whole town was flocking to gaze at and greet them. Meanwhile the guns of the fortress fired a lieutenant-general's salute, and the ships in the harbor, displaying their flags, joined in the national welcome. At that day's dinner Steuben first heard of the surrender of Burgoyne, and hailed the tidings as a happy omen. The day following he visited the fortifications, and the next reviewed the troops. One of his earliest cares, also, was to write to Washington and Congress, expressing his “desire” to deserve the title of a citizen of America by fighting for her liberty. With his own letters he forwarded copies of those of Franklin, Deane, and Beaumarchais. Then, on the 12th of December, he set out for Boston.
Here his chief entertainer was John Hancock, who was just returning to private life after honorable service in Congress; and often, during the five weeks that the bad roads kept Steuben waiting for the answers to his letters, his feet trod that long flight of steps and crossed that hospitable threshold which but a few years ago were still standing to tell of the olden time and Boston's provincial splendor. At last Washington's answer came, courteous though formal, and referring him to Congress as the only body authorized to accept offers of service or make appointments. At the same time Hancock informed him that he had been directed by Congress to make every preparation for securing him and his suite a comfortable journey to York, in Pennsylvania, where Congress was then sitting. Hancock was not the man to do this work negligently. The ground was covered with snow, and sleighs with five negroes for drivers and grooms were prepared for the baggage, and saddle-horses for the general and his suite. A purveyor, too, accompanied them to provide provisions and quarters. The enemy were in possession of Newport and New York, and made frequent incursions into the interior. A roundabout course, extending to four hundred and ten miles, was the only course Steuben and his party could take without exposing themselves to unnecessary danger. The journey began on the 14th of January, and it was the 5th of February before they reached York. Thus at the very outset Steuben gained what to his military eye was an invaluable view of a large section of his new country. He got also a few glimpses of one of its elements of danger, the tory element.
In Worcester County, near the Connecticut border, was a tavern notorious by the ill fame of its tory landlord, and which Steuben had been counseled to avoid. But a snow-storm left him no alternative, and at nightfall his weary train drew reins at the door of evil name. True to his reputation, the landlord told them that if they would stop at his house they would have to take up with bare walls; for he had neither beds, bread, meat, drink, milk, nor eggs for them. Remonstrances and even entreaties were powerless. Steuben's blood began to boil; a copious shower of German oaths was tried and all in vain. “Bring me my pistols,” he cried in German, to his German servant, and while the landlord was looking on with malignant satisfaction he suddenly found a pistol at his breast, “Can you give us beds?” “Yes,” trembled the affrighted miscreant. “Bread?” “Yes.” “Meat, drink, milk, eggs?” and still “Yes,” to each demand. The loyalist saw that the terrible German was in earnest. The table was quickly spread, all wants abundantly supplied, and after a comfortable night and a good breakfast the party resumed their journey, not forgetting to pay the tory liberally in Continental money.
One feature of the journey, however, was very grateful to Steuben's German pride. The Seven Years War was still a recent event, and Frederick a popular name everywhere, more especially among the Germans. Hence town, village, or wayside inn displayed the well-known sharp features and high shoulder as a sign, and decked its walls with prints in honor of the great king, and sometimes to the disparagement of the “great nation.” At Manheim in particular the baron, with a significant glance and great internal enjoyment, called the attention of his French secretary to an engraving on the dining-room wall, representing a Prussian knocking down a French man, with the motto, “Ein Franzmann zum Preuszen wie eine Mücke” (A Frenchman to a Prussian is like a gnat).
And now opens the serious chapter of Steuben's American life. The Congress at York was not that wise Congress which had declared independence and launched the new “ship of state” upon its perilous voyage, but that weak and divided Congress which had opened its ears to calumnies upon Washington and almost resolved to set up Gates as his rival. Gates himself, with a brain whirling with the excitement of unmerited success, was enjoying the good dinners and warm quarters at the temporary seat of government, while Washington was starving and freezing with his army in the huts and hovels of Valley Forge. How was Steuben with his five weeks stock of English to distinguish between the true hero and the false one?
St. Germain had chosen his man well; an experienced and scientific soldier, for no other could have done such work as he was appointed to do; a man experienced in men, also, and both too wise and too honorable to become the tool of a faction. Gates loaded him with civilities and urged him to stay at his house. But, meeting the civilities with polite appreciation, he refused the dangerous hospitality.
It became apparent that in counseling Steuben to assume a rank unknown in the American army, Vergennes, St. Germain, Montbarey, and Miranda had proved themselves wise in their generation. Dazzled by the claim which was so well borne out by his professional knowledge and personal dignity, Congress appointed a special committee to wait upon him and listen to his proposals. They were not such as Congress had been in the habit of receiving; for he told them that he asked for neither rank nor pay, that he wished to enter the army as a volunteer and perform any duty which the commander-in-chief might assign him, and that commissions for his aids and the payment of his actual expenses were the only conditions which he should stipulate, leaving the question of ultimate compensation to be decided by the success or failure of the struggle. No time was lost in idle discussions. The committee reported without delay. The next day he received a formal entertainment from Congress as a mark of special honor; members and guests gazing upon him, as in his rich uniform and with the star of his order which never left his breast he sat at the right hand of President Laurens, and arguing well for the army which was to be trained by a man of such a keen eye and soldierly bearing. Then when the dinner was over, the president handed him the resolutions of Congress.
“Whereas Baron Steuben, a lieutenant-general in foreign service, has in a most disinterested and heroic manner offered his services to these States as a volunteer,
“Resolved, That the president present the thanks of Congress, in behalf of these United States, to Baron Steuben, for the zeal he has shown for the cause of America and the disinterested tender he has been pleased to make of his military talents, and inform him that Congress cheerfully accepts of his services as a volunteer in the army of these States, and wish him to repair to General Washington's quarters as soon as convenient.”
Steuben lost no time in setting out for camp. The ovations continued. At Lancaster the German population felt all their national pride revived at the approach of such a German. A subscription ball was given in honor of his arrival, and great was the mutual satisfaction as they looked upon his noble bearing and brilliant decorations, and he heard once more from woman's lips the accents of his native tongue. While he was yet some miles from camp, Washington came out to meet him and conduct him to his quarters. There a guard of twenty-five men had been stationed, with an officer at their head. Steuben would have declined the honor, saying that he was merely a volunteer. “The whole army,” said Washington, “would gladly stand sentinel for such volunteers.” The next day the troops were mustered, and Washington accompanied Steuben to pass them in review.
During part of his life, at least, Washington was a soldier at heart. When he first heard the bullets whistle he found “something charming in the sound.” He had often said that “the most beautiful spectacle he had ever beheld was the display of the British troops” on the morning of Braddock's defeat. And even after he had declared that “he scarcely could conceive the cause that would induce him to draw his sword again,” he wrote to Lafayette that “as an unobserved spectator he would be glad to peep at the Prussian and Austrian troops at their manœuvrings on a grand field-day.” Thus, when Steuben came to him as a Prussian veteran, he felt that there was a bond between them which they might both cheerfully acknowledge. And, perhaps, he also felt that to bring him at once before the army as the object of uncommon honors was the surest way of preparing it to look up to him as a man capable of imparting to it the knowledge and habits in which it was so universally deficient.
It was a great relief to Washington's mind to find that he had no longer an unprincipled intriguer like Conway to look to for the reform of discipline, but “a gentleman — a man of military knowledge,” and with that knowledge of the world without which the highest military knowledge would have been of no avail. But it was a serious drawback that he could talk with him only through an interpreter, even though the interpreter was Hamilton or Laurens. At no time in the course of the war had the condition of the army been more distressing. The life at Valley Forge was a daily struggle with cold and hunger; the log and mud huts in which the troops lived were an imperfect protection against the rigor of the winter, made doubly severe by the want of proper clothing and nutritious food. The frequent failure of supplies had familiarized the minds of the men with the idea of mutiny, and brought the officers to feel that if not almost justifiable, it was at least inevitable. There was no assurance of greater regularity or abundance in the future to help bear up against the pressure of the present. Out of the original force of seventeen thousand men, there were three thousand nine hundred and eighty-nine without clothes enough to enable them to mount guard or appear on parade. From desertion and disease, five thousand and twelve men were all that could be called out for duty, and these were so imperfectly armed that muskets, fowling-pieces, and rifles were found in the same company, with a few bayonets scattered here and there; guns and bayonets alike rusty and unfit for service. These, however were the men with whom Washington had manœuvred in front and on the flanks of the well-armed and well-disciplined army of Sir William Howe; had fought the battle of the Brandywine, where a portion of them under Greene had marched four miles in forty-nine minutes, seizing and holding a favorable position for covering the retreat of the main body; and the battle of Germantown, where a dense fog and an error of judgment were all that saved the British army from defeat and capture. And they had done all this because they possessed what Burgoyne attributed to the northern army, “the fundamental points of military institution, sobriety, subordination, regularity, and courage. . . . . Their panics were confined and of short duration; their enthusiasm extensive and permanent.” It was to the honor of Steuben's sagacity that, with an eye accustomed to the faultless equipments and precision of movement of Prussian troops, he should have detected those fundamental points, or the capacity for acquiring them, under the rags and rusty equipments and in the awkward “Indian file” of the American troops. And it was still more to the honor of his energy and force of will that, “without understanding a word of the English language, he should think of bringing men born free, and united for the defense of their freedom, into strict subjection; to teach them to obey without a question the mandates of a master, and that master once their equal, or possibly beneath them in whatever might become a man.”
One of the characteristic acts of the Conway cabal had been the creation for Conway of the office of inspector-general, with powers so extensive as to justify the expression of “imperium in imperio,” which Marshall applies to the organization of the commissariat. But, happily for the army, the conspiracy was detected before he had entered fully upon the performance of his duties, and thus one of the immediate results of the at tempt to forward the malignant aims of a vile intriguer was to prepare the way for a high-minded and honorable man. In another way, too, the Providence that watched over us had educed good from this evil. Mifflin, the quartermaster-general, though originally a member of Washington's family, and intrusted by him with this responsible office “from a thorough persuasion of his integrity,” had proved false both to Washington and to his country; neglecting his official duties and entering deeply into the plots of the intriguers. During the hardships of this trying winter he had held himself aloof from camp, and contributed nothing either directly or indirectly to the feeding or clothing of the army. At last a committee was sent by Congress to take counsel with Washington and see what could be done to avert the dangers of “a dissolution, or starvation, or mutiny” which were becoming more and more imminent every day. One of the effects of their exertions and representations was the appointment of General Greene as Mifflin's successor. One of the chief obstacles to the establishment of discipline was thus removed, and if zeal and energy could accomplish it, the army would henceforth be fed and clothed.
Steuben's first step was to draw up a plan of inspectorship, and after revising it with the assistance of Greene, Hamilton, and Laurens, submit it to Washington for approval. Washington approved it, and transmitted it to Congress. There was no time to lose. Winter was passing, and the day for opening a new campaign drawing menacingly near. “Will you undertake to execute this plan?” asked Washington. “With your support and assistance, I will,” replied Steuben. He began by drafting from the line a hundred and twenty men, as a guard for the commander-in-chief and a military school for himself. These men he drilled twice a day; and striking from the outset an effective blow at the prejudice (one of England's legacies) which led officers to regard the drilling of a recruit as a sergeant's and not an officer's business, he took the musket into his own hands and showed them how he wished them to handle it. At every drill his division inspectors were required to be present, and doubtless many officers and soldiers were present, too, without requisition. “In a fortnight,” he writes, “my company knew perfectly how to bear arms, had a military air, knew how to march, to form in column, deploy, and execute some little manœuvres with excellent precision.” Hitherto, every attempt to instruct the soldiers had been begun, according to rule, by the manual exercise; and, now from one cause and now from another, every such attempt had failed. In nothing did Steuben's superiority to a mere martinet appear more decidedly than in his passing the manual by and beginning with manœuvres. The sight of men advancing, retreating, wheeling, deploying, attacking with the bayonet, changing front, and all with promptness and precision, made an impression upon the spectator which no perfection in the mere handling of the musket could have produced. The actors, too, moved by a common impulse, felt that confidence in themselves which men always feel when acting harmoniously together, and learnt, from the outset, to look with double confidence upon the man who had awakened them to a consciousness of their short-comings by “skillfully yielding to circumstances” in the development of their capacities. Every scholar of this school became an apostle of reform. The army that looked on and admired longed to be permitted to share in the lesson. Battalions came next, then brigades, and then divisions. It was on the 24th of March that the elementary manœuvres began, and by the 29th of April, American troops, for the first time since the opening of the war, were able to execute the grand manœuvres of a regular army. On the 5th of May, Steuben was appointed by Congress inspector-general, with the rank and pay of major-general.
Steuben's success is easily explained. His heart was in his work. He was up before day, smoked a single pipe, swallowed a single cup of coffee, had his hair carefully dressed, his uniform carefully put on; and then, as the first sunbeam appeared, he was in the saddle and off for the parade-ground. There was no waiting for loitering aids. No part of his work was beneath him. He took the guns into his own hands, examined the equipments with his own experienced eye. Not a voice was to be heard but his, and that of his officers as they repeated his orders. Not a mistake passed unreproved. “Ah,” said one of his captains, a captain once, but then the keeper of a country tavern, “how glad I am to see you, baron, in my house; but I used to be dreadfully afraid of you.” “How so, captain?” “You hallooed and swore and looked so dreadfully at me once, baron, that I shall never forget it. When I saw you so strict to the officers on my right, I felt very queer; and when you came up to me, baron, I hardly knew what to do, and I quaked in my shoes.” “Oh fie, dear captain.” “It was bad, to be sure, but you did halloo most tremendously.”
The conviction that he was thoroughly master of what he was teaching them would hardly have reconciled officers and men to his severity and “sudden gusts of passion,” if they had not been equally convinced of his justice. Once at a review near Morristown, Lieutenant Gibbons, a brave and good officer, was arrested on the spot and ordered into the rear for a fault which it afterwards appeared another had committed. At a proper moment the commander of the regiment came forward and informed the baron of Mr. Gibbons's innocence, of his worth, and of his acute feelings under this unmerited disgrace. “Desire Lieutenant Gibbons to come to the front, colonel.” “Sir,” said the baron to the young gentleman, “the fault which was made, by throwing the line into confusion, might, in the presence of an enemy, have been fatal. I arrested you as its supposed author; but I have reason to believe that I was mistaken, and that in this instance you were blameless; I ask your pardon: return to your command. I would not deal unjustly by any, much less by one whose character as an officer is so respectable.” All the while he was saying this it was raining violently; and the men who saw him standing there hat in hand before his subaltern, heedless of the rain that poured down upon his unprotected head, never forgot the scene.
Thus far all went on well. Even in their tatters the men began to feel a pride in being soldiers. If some officers were still compelled to mount guard in an old blanket cut into the shape of a dressing-gown, they knew, at least, how to perform the duty of officers on guard. Washington, in general orders, praised their progress and thanked the man to whom they owed it. But now arose the question of converting this temporary inspectorship into a permanent inspectorship with corresponding rank in the line. A reform in drill was but a small part of the real work to be done. The whole organization of the army required reform in all its parts. The quartermaster-general's department was now secure; the commissariat also. “The internal administration of a regiment and a company was a thing completely unknown.” “The number of men in a regiment as well as in a company was fixed by Congress,” but some were three months' men, some six, some nine. There was a constant ebb and flow, a constant coming and going. Accurate returns of such regiments were out of the question. “Sometimes a regiment was stronger than a brigade;” sometimes it contained but thirty men, and a company but a single corporal. The men “were scattered about everywhere.” Officers acted as if the army were but a nursery of servants; each claiming one, many two or three. And thus many hundred soldiers were converted into valets. But on the regimental books they still held their places unchanged; and long after many of them had ceased to belong to the army even as valets, pay was still drawn in their names from the impoverished treasury. Leaves of absence and even dismissals were given by colonels and sometimes by captains at will.
While men went and came in this manner, and were thus employed, there could be little hope of preserving the public property intrusted to their hands. Every musket was valued at eighteen dollars with a bayonet, and at sixteen without one. And yet for every campaign from five to eight thousand muskets were required, to replace those lost by negligence or carried off by the men whose terms of enlistment had expired. With the most methodical and systematic of men at their head, it had been utterly impossible to introduce method or system into this ebbing and flowing mass.
Steuben aimed at the correction of all these abuses; but unfortunately, in asking for the powers which he deemed essential for the accomplishment of his task, he asked for some which seemed to trench upon the rights of other officers. Some of the major-generals became alarmed. All the brigadiers, it was apprehended, would resign if his demands were complied with. Whatever Washington's private opinion may have been, he publicly conformed to the public opinion, and issued in June the general orders by which — Congress with its wonted dilatoriness putting off a decision from day to day — the office continued to be regulated till 1779. These orders not only defined the duties but greatly limited the powers of the inspector-general, Steuben saw the cause and understood it, foresaw, too, the consequences and deplored them; but, faithful to his resolution, adapted himself to circumstances, and continued to labor with unabated energy in his daily drills and special reforms.
Events were already demonstrating the excellence of his work. In May, 1778, Lafayette, upon the point of seeing himself outnumbered and cut off from the main body of the army, was able to save his men by an orderly retreat, in which their good discipline was manifest. Washington, however, anxious for Lafayette's detachment, ordered out the whole army to support it; and in less than fifteen minutes the whole army was under arms and ready to march. At Monmouth, not long after, at the sound of Steuben's now familiar voice, Lee's broken ranks rallied and wheeled into line under a heavy fire as calmly and precisely as if the battle-field had been a parade-ground.
But the roar of the cannon stirred the old soldier's blood, and he began to feel keen longings for more exciting work than teaching manœuvres and examining reports. It so chanced, also, that, most of the brigadiers being called away by Lee's court-martial, Washington found it necessary to give Steuben the temporary command of a division, on the march to the Hudson in July, 1778. And thus, when directed to resume his duties as inspector-general, all the vexation and disgust he had felt at the obstacles which had been unnecessarily thrown in his way were renewed, heightened by the refusal of De Neuville, the inspector of Gates's army, to receive orders from him as inspector-general. He now talked freely of his dissatisfaction, objected to the position which he had hitherto worked in so cheerfully, and more than intimated his intention to resign unless his desire for a command in the line were complied with. It was natural, but it was unfortunate, and there can be little doubt but that in a calmer mood he regretted it. Here again Washington's serene wisdom appeared, as it appeared in so many other decisive moments. He did not approve of Steuben's aims, but he appreciated his services at their full value, and continued to treat him with his wonted urbanity, freely acknowledging how much he had done, but carefully abstaining from everything that might have been interpreted into an encouragement of his new pretensions. It was with Congress to decide what the inspectorship was to be and what place the inspector was to hold in the line; and it is not improbable that Washington saw the discontented and more than half angry baron set out for Philadelphia, with confidence that before that dilatory Congress could come to a decision, his natural good sense and love of his profession would prepare him to return willingly, if not cheerfully, to his original position.
For Congress was once more sitting in Philadelphia, in the old hall where the Declaration of Independence had been made. But it was there with a task to perform, to which legislative bodies are altogether unequal: with a responsibility weighing upon it which none but a strong executive could have borne, vainly trying to govern by treasury boards and boards of war, to call out the resources of the country by requisitions and recommendations, and to decide questions which demanded immediate decision as they decided upon laws and acts which demanded careful, full, and deliberate discussion. It was shorn also of some of its brightest ornaments, disturbed by internal dissensions which it no longer had the self-control to conceal, and brought to its discussions a spirit poisoned by jealousy of the army on which it depended for its existence.
It was to this Congress that Steuben brought his claims, and if Washington had counted upon their dilatoriness for giving the baron's anger time to cool or to turn towards a new object, he did not count in vain. One important question was decided at once: De Neuville was made responsible to the inspector-general, thus soothing the German, whose value was felt, and inviting to resignation the Frenchman, whose value was doubted. This made it easier to meet his application for a command in the line, and, appointing a committee to consider the new plans concerning the inspectorship, Congress seemed ready to proceed at once to the discussion of them. But before any decision could be reached, the unfavorable turn which things were taking in Rhode Island afforded an opportunity for postponing the matter indefinitely, and Steuben was requested to go to the assistance of General Sullivan. Thus by the end of August, Sullivan's expedition being ended before he could reach him, although he traveled with the utmost dispatch, he again found himself with the main army. When the army removed to Fredericksburg he was once more actively engaged in the dull routine of manœuvres, drills, and reports.
He seems meanwhile to have become convinced that this was the field in which he could do the most good, and, with the exception of an occasional return of his longing for a more dazzling glory, he resolved henceforth to content himself with the glory of being useful. To induce Congress to place his department upon a permanent footing was henceforth his immediate object; and when the army went into winter quarters he again repaired to Philadelphia. It was an irritating business for a hot-tempered, earnest man, convinced of the correctness of his views, convinced, too, that important as many other things which Congress was busy about might be, there was none in the wide circle of their competency more important than this. All Washington's influence, all the force of Hamilton's representations, were employed in his favor: but still week after week wore away, and February, 1779, was near its end before the question was seriously taken up. Then at last a series of resolutions embodying nearly the substance of his later plans, as revised and approved by Washington, was passed, and, much as they fell short of his original expectations, he was glad to find himself in a position to set himself effectively to work.
But he had not idled away the winter in attendance upon Congress. To make his inspectorship successful it was necessary that every officer should be provided with a uniform system of regulations for the order and discipline of the troops. He had congratulated himself at the outset that no existing work had attained to a sufficient degree of popularity to make it a general standard. He had found every colonel, almost every captain, with a system of his own, and agreeing only in marching their men in Indian file. The ground, therefore, was free, and to fill it aright he composed that volume so long known in the army of the United States as “Steuben's Regulations,” or the “Blue Book.” And here again we see his superiority over mere formalists and drill masters. With a thorough knowledge of all that had been done, he knew also what it was possible to do. Fully aware that in European armies a man who had been drilled three months was still held to be nothing more than a recruit, he was equally aware that in the American army he could not count upon more than two months for transforming a recruit into a soldier. Accordingly, taking less the Prussian system than his own perfect familiarity with the subject for guide, and with a wise consideration for the English prejudices which had struck such deep root in the American mind, he set himself to his task, with Fleury and Walker for assistants, De l'Enfant for draughtsman, and Duponceau for secretary. On the 25th of March the first part was ready for the action of Congress, having already received the sanction of Washington and of the board of war. On the 29th, Congress resolved to accept and print it.
Here, again, Steuben's patience was put to a severe test. The printing of his book cost him more oaths than the composing of it. There were but two copper-plate printers in Philadelphia, and one of them so bad that it was found necessary to throw away above six hundred prints. Only one binder was employed, and though a good one, the attractions of privateering were so great that neither he nor the printer could keep men enough together to do half the work they were called upon to do. Steuben was anxious to have two copies richly bound, one for the commander-in-chief, and one for the French minister, but in the whole city there was not gold leaf enough to gild them. His temper failed him more than once, but fortunately the men he had chiefly to do with were Pickering and Peters, who admired and loved him too much to take offense at his sallies. Pickering in one of his letters enters into a full explanation of the causes of delay, and closes with a delicate appeal to Steuben's better feelings: “Should I again discover marks of extreme impatience and even asperity in the inspector-general, I will impute them to his anxiety to introduce a perfect order and discipline in the army, and to his zeal in securing the safety and independence of America.” Peters writes with a happy mixture of jest and gravity, promising “to distinguish between the Baron Steuben uninformed, and the Baron Steuben acquainted with facts and difficulties; between the Baron Steuben in good humor and the same gentleman (zoönically) angry and fretted.”
At last the work was done; copies were sent to governors of States and distributed through the army, and for the first time since the war began American officers had a clear and definite guide for the performance of their duties.
“Steuben made no delay in putting his theories into practice. He reviewed all the regiments and ordered the introduction of the system of manœuvres contained in the ‘Regulations.’” Regiments were formed into battalions, each battalion consisting of a definite number of men. To make sure that the arms and equipments were fit for immediate use, and that the men were not merely men on paper but actually in the ranks, he continued his rigorous monthly inspections. In these inspections there was no trifling, no hurrying over details. Seven hours were not thought too long for the inspection of a brigade of three small regiments. “Every man not present was to be accounted for; if in camp, sick or well, he was produced or visited; every musket handled and searched, cartridge-boxes opened, even the flints and cartridges counted; knapsacks unslung and every article of clothing spread on the soldier's blanket and tested by his little book, whether what he had received from the United States within the year was there; if not, to be accounted for. Hospitals, stores, laboratories, every place, every thing was open to inspection and inspected.” The exact, careful man was sure to be praised and often rewarded; the careless to be sternly reproved. It took little to move Steuben's anger; undue delay, misplaced hesitation were sure to do it, and out came a storm of oaths, German first, then French, and then both ludicrously mingled; and when the stock was exhausted, turning to his aid, he would say, “My dear Walker, or my dear Duponceau, come and swear for me in English; these fellows will not do what I bid them.” A smile would steal silently over the faces of the men, and the movement be carefully studied till it was accurately executed.
The crowning labor and complement of all was the establishment of a system of minute written reports according to prescribed forms, extending throughout the whole army and embracing every department of the service.
In all this work Steuben was but adapting established principles to the exigencies of a new case. But in the formation of the light infantry he became an inventor, sending back a lesson from the New World to the Old, from Frederick's pupil to Frederick himself. The wars with the Indians had taught Americans to fight, like their adversaries, in loose bodies instead of close masses, each man using his rifle or musket to the best advantage according to his own judgment. These bodies of skirmishers had turned the day against English and German regulars at Bemis's Heights and Stillwater. Steuben organized them into a light infantry with a drill and discipline of their own. Frederick, meditating upon the suggestions of the American war, saw how much such troops might be made to assist the operations of his dense masses, and accepted the improvement. The other armies of Europe followed his example, and from that time they have formed an essential part of every great army and done important service on every great battle-field.
It was soon evident that a new spirit had entered the army. Encampments exhibited the regularity of scientific disposition. Reviews displayed in officers and men familiarity with complex evolutions and that harmony of movement which gives thousands the appearance of a single body under the control of a single will. Inspections demonstrated the possibility of enforcing neatness and exactness and bringing responsibility home to every door. The treasury, which had been repeatedly called upon to pay the services of men who had long ceased to render service of any kind, was relieved from a heavy burden by the introduction of exact rolls and regular reports. The war office, instead of having to count upon an annual loss of from five to eight thousand muskets, could enter upon its record that in one year of Steuben's inspectorship only three muskets were missing, and they were accounted for. The opposition and jealousy which had clogged his first steps, gradually gave way before the perfect demonstration of his success. Officers ceased to shrink from labor with the example of industry like his before them, or to consider any part of their duty as beneath them when they saw him come down from so much greater a height to do it. “Do you see there, sir, your colonel instructing that recruit?” he one day said to North. “I thank God for that, sir.”
And no sooner did the soldier find himself in the presence of the enemy than he showed even more evidently the change which had taken place within him. Hamilton declared that till he saw the troops forming and manœuvring at Monmouth he had never felt the full value of discipline. The only use which the few soldiers who were provided with bayonets had hitherto made of them, had been as forks to roast their meat with. But within less than four months from the organization of the inspectorship by Congress, on the night of the 15th of July, 1779, these same soldiers took Stony Point, at the point of the bayonet and without firing a gun.
Henceforth Steuben's life becomes so mixed up with the general history of the army, or so filled with minute details, that it is impossible to follow it step by step, within limits like ours. It was not all at once that he could carry out his far-reaching views. The army was once more to be remodeled, and he passed weeks at Philadelphia in close communication with Congress and the board of war, keeping up all the time a correspondence with Washington, to whose wishes, from first to last, he was ever ready to conform his own. But Congress again wearied and vexed him by delays, for which the embarrassed condition of the public finances was but a partial justification, and which caused, at times, “the loss of months where it was dangerous to lose days.” Private jealousies and personal claims still continued to interfere with the introduction of essential changes. They who have studied the history of this period in the letters of the actors, know that not all our statesmen were wise, not all our officers high-minded, not all our citizens more devoted to their country than to their own pockets. There were times when the whole country seemed heartily sick of the war; and when, perhaps, a Wood or a Seymour, a “New York World” or an “Evening Express,” might have stirred up thousands to open resistance or lured them on to treason to their children and their God. For a time, too, the condition of our finances seemed hopeless. The currency was worthless; the public credit gone. The “promise to pay” of the United States or of the individual States was not worth the “promise to pay” of a private citizen; and it was not until the treasury board had been replaced by a skillful financier that the real wealth of the country could be brought to the support of its real interest. In his personal as well as in his public capacity, Steuben suffered from these things. But he suffered without losing heart if he sometimes lost patience; and before the war was brought to a close he had the satisfaction of seeing himself recognized as the true organizer of the American army.
Meanwhile he rendered other important services. He accompanied Reed in his survey of the fortifications of Philadelphia. He took an important part in the movements which preceded the battle of Monmouth as well as in the battle itself. He rendered valuable service on Washington's staff — the best staff in many respects which the world had ever seen. He wrote elaborate opinions and plans of operations which contributed much to Washington's assistance in forming his own opinions and plans. Some minor services, too, he performed. He taught the etiquette of receptions and intercourse, when the new French minister visited camp, and trifling as such cares may appear when compared with the grave duties of a general in the midst of such a war, they cease to be trifling when we consider how important it was that the minister's dispatches should represent us as not wholly devoid of a knowledge which the Old World prized so highly. He did service, twice, of a more difficult nature, when he was sent without any ostensible command to supply at West Point the deficiencies of General Howe; and of a more serious nature when, under the presidency of Greene, and with some of the best officers in the army for his colleagues, he sat in judgment upon André. And in all these various duties he demeaned himself so wisely, so tempered and controlled his ardent nature, and manifested throughout such elevation of sentiment and such pure devotion to his adopted country, as to prove that Pickering had interpreted his character well, when in the midst of his perplexities he wrote to him, “Courage, dear baron; those talents which know how to do good without giving umbrage and causing jealousy are always sure to triumph ultimately over all obstacles.”
But next to the inspectorship, the field of his most important services was Virginia, in the winter of 1780-81, and during the memorable and decisive siege of Yorktown. When Greene was appointed to the command of such fragments of the southern army as had survived the fatal day of Camden, Steuben went with him because there was “an army to be created.” With Greene his relations had been of the friendliest and most intimate kind, from the day when they sat down with Hamilton and Laurens, in Steuben's straitened quarters at Valley Forge, to discuss the first draft of the inspectorship. And now they set out from Philadelphia together for the field on which they both felt that the fate of the war was to be decided, riding the whole of the first day's journey in company; and how pleasantly they journeyed on and how confidentially they talked, Duponceau in his old age dearly loved to tell; recalling with special satisfaction the evening at Chester, where Greene, to his astonishment, turned the conversation upon the Latin poets, and talked about them like a man who had studied them well. Greene's chief reliance for men and supplies was Virginia, and as it was by the organization of the means of reinforcement and support that the serious work was to begin, he directed Steuben to take command there and do whatever his judgment suggested for the accomplishment of it. And thus the pupil of the Prussian despot was brought into contact with the American democrat, for Jefferson was then governor of the State, and governing in a way which has afforded his adversaries an ample field of crimination, and cost his eulogistic biographers much labor to defend. The disorder of the finances was great, but, being an evil common to the whole country, cannot be accepted as an excuse for the utter prostration of the government. The departments were without a head. The executive acted only by expedients. The resources were wantonly wasted by neglect and peculation. The public arms were scattered; the soldiers and recruits naked. The militia were so thoroughly demoralized that they plundered with a wantonness that would have excited wonder in hirelings. A body of volunteers had been raised at great expense for six months service. Before they were all collected the time was so nearly run out that it was thought better to dismiss them at once than to send them to the support of the southern army. Other corps were raised with the same shortsightedness, and dismissed to save the expense of feeding them. How far a vigorous executive might have prevented these abuses and errors, and how far it became a party to them by retaining a hopeless position, we shall not now pause to inquire.
That in this situation Steuben should have often lost his temper is easily conceived; that he should sometimes have strained his authority to the utmost was perfectly natural. His military eye saw that the fate of Virginia was bound up with that of the Carolinas, and that the surest way to defend her was to strengthen Greene's army. The militia that refused to follow the southern commander beyond Ramsay's Mills, because, unless they set out for home immediately, the time they were called out for would expire before they could reach it, might have enabled him to overtake the retreating and disheartened enemy, follow up the blow which had almost shattered Cornwallis at Guilford, and avert the invasion which cost Virginia some blood and much treasure. In spite of obstacles Steuben persisted in his labors. It was by his energy and judgment that Arnold's invasion was so far checked that the traitor was able to accomplish but a part of the evil he had meditated. It was to him, also, that part of Lafayette's success was owing; the old general having prepared the way which the young general followed so happily. But still, of all his hard experience of life, this was the hardest; and it was with an indescribable feeling of relief that he found himself in the lines before Yorktown.
His first siege had been the siege of Prague, as a volunteer, when a boy of fourteen; his last the siege of Schweidnitz, as Frederick's aid, at the close of the Seven Years War. And now, in the trenches at Yorktown, he saw another great war drawing rapidly to its end, and bringing with it the end of his own long and honorable military career. He was the only American officer who had ever been present at a siege, and here, as on so many occasions, his experience was of great service. It was the only time, too, that he had ever had the command of a division, and fortune so far smiled upon him as to bring on the first overtures for surrender during his term of duty in the trenches; thus giving him the privilege, so highly prized by soldiers, of being in actual command when the enemy's flag came down.
When the victorious army returned northward he returned with it, to resume his place as inspector-general; a minute, laborious, and for most men a wearisome round of monotonous duties, but which, under the influence of the spirit which he brought to it, was now universally recognized as the indispensable basis of good military organization. Never was the discipline of the troops more perfect than during the last two years of the war; and it is surely not claiming too much for Steuben to say that the sense of duty and subordination which that discipline cultivated was not the least among the causes which enabled an impotent Congress peacefully to disband an injured and irritated army. Authentic anecdotes have been preserved of the pride which he took in showing off to the best advantage the acquisitions of his military children, and of the confidence with which they came to look up to him as a father. One of the reviews at Verplanck's Point was roughly sketched by North. If we imagine Washington's marquee on an eminence, with the richly wooded scenery of the North River for a background; Washington himself standing before it, surrounded by French and American officers; in the foreground Steuben, on horseback, with a glow of triumph in his hazel eye as he watches with proud bearing the evolutions which it was supposed none but a Prussian army could execute, and the Hudson girding in the scene and partly reflecting it in its dark waters, we shall have a noble subject for a painter.
Steuben's last public service during the war was a journey to Canada to make arrangements for taking possession of the military posts which were to be ceded to us at the signing of the peace; a service for which his familiarity with the laws and usages of war peculiarly fitted him. Another service which he rendered was in the formation of plans for a military academy; and we commend to the attention of those whose duty it is to watch over our great institution at West Point a careful meditation of that part of his project in which he provides for full professorships of history and geography, of civil and international law, and of eloquence and belles-lettres. It was probably from him, too, that the first suggestion of the “Cincinnati” came, and, had his counsels been followed, the disbanding of the army, instead of being done stealthily, like something that Congress was afraid to do, would have been done in the broad daylight with the solemnity with which a great people performs a great duty.
And now, the war being at an end, he would gladly have gone back to Europe to enjoy his glory and talk over his American life with his old friends. But in coming to America he had transferred his benefice of Havelsberg to a nephew, and exhausted all his other resources; freely exchanging the independence which he had won by long service for the chances of success in the new cause to which he devoted himself. Unfortunately, however, instead of following Vergennes' advice and Lee's example, and making a definite contract with Congress, he had contented himself with their unrecorded acquiescence in his offer to make his compensation depend upon the success of the war. And thus, when the war had succeeded and he asked for a settlement of his claims, Congress asked for the proof of his contract; and although unquestionable proof of the nature of his original agreement with the Congress committee was given by the members of that committee, although the importance of his services was established by the testimony of the whole army, although Hamilton supported his claims in Congress and out of Congress, and Washington went in his favor to the utmost extent which the limits he had prescribed to himself in his relations with Congress permitted, it was not till after an eight years struggle with poverty that Steuben obtained a final settlement. Then, indeed, his claims were partly, if not fully acknowledged, and an annuity of twenty-five hundred dollars settled upon him. How he suffered meanwhile, he, the large-hearted, free-handed, high-spirited man, from personal privations and public insult; how he suffered, not merely from the actual want of the day, but from the ever present menace of the morrow, and, keenest pang of all for a heart like his, from the inability to relieve the sufferings of others, is a story which fortunately our limits do not permit us to repeat. We commend it to the serious attention of our readers in the clear, minute, and incontrovertible narrative of Mr. Kapp.
During this interval most of his time was passed in New York, where his extensive information, refined manners, and genial sympathies made him a general favorite. Disqualified by his age from entering upon a new profession, he could not settle contentedly down in idleness, or see the new republic, which he had helped build up, silently drifting into anarchy and bankruptcy, without a strong desire to see what lessons might be drawn from history for his instruction. His papers bear witness to the interest which he took in the political occurrences and questions of the day, as well as to the extent of his reading and his habit of patient thought. Like most of those who had been brought into close relations with the Congress of the confederation, he was the advocate of a strong and effective central government, and, had he lived, would have witnessed the overthrow of the federalists with as keen regret as Hamilton himself. Among his studies of this period is a plan for a peace establishment of the army which Washington approved, and a few years later he proposed a plan of fortifications for New York which became the basis of the plan adopted upon the approach of our second war with England. At one moment, despairing of obtaining a settlement with Congress, he turned his thoughts westward and drew up a plan for the establishment, with the sanction of the Spanish government, of a colony in the Spanish territories on the Mississippi. But Spain wanted no such colonists, and his memorial remained unanswered. In 1797 he was chosen one of the regents of the University of New York; a tribute of respect which must have been singularly gratifying to his feelings. A more important expression was given by New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, to their sense of his services by large grants of land, and could he but have got money enough to have made these grants available he would have been an independent man.
At length, as we have said, his claims upon the nation were acknowledged. Henceforth he had a fixed income, knew what he could afford to undertake and how he could afford to live. To take up and settle his lands would supply a pleasant occupation for his declining years. Wherever an old soldier was to be found he was sure to find a friend, and as disappointment had neither hardened nor embittered his heart, it was to friendship that he looked for “happiness.” It was too late to think of returning to Europe, even if his pecuniary embarrassments had permitted it. America was now his home. And thus, with such hopes as childless old age may indulge in, and such aspirations as had survived thirteen years of active participation in great events and a ten years experience of court, he entered upon the last phase of his career.
The sixteen thousand acres of land which New York had given him lay in Oneida County, about twelve miles north of old Fort Schuyler, the Utica of our day, and formed part of the township which still bears his name. It was a rough, stony tract, fitter for grazing than planting, with a high ridge running across it, from which, as his eye became familiar with the landscape, he could distinguish the highlands of seven different counties, and, gleaming over the tree-tops on the farthest verge of the horizon, the bright waters of Oneida Lake. This was to be his home during the active months of the year, and when the cold months came and armies went into winter quarters, he would turn his face southward and resume his station at 216 Broadway, opposite St. Paul's Church. As a landholder he could indulge his generous impulses, and more than one who had no other claim upon him than what the name of old soldier gave, received a grant of sixty or a hundred acres, either as a free gift or on terms that differed little from it. As a farmer he could indulge his old habits of methodic organization and a methodic division of his time. Sixty acres were set apart and cleared for the manor-house, which was to be a building suited to his rank and habits of life. Meanwhile he contented himself with a log-house, enlarged after a short time by the addition of a frame-house of two rooms. Here Mulligan, then a young man fresh from Columbia College, and who served him as secretary, was his constant inmate; North, or Walker, or some other old companion, would often come to stay a week or more with him, and some of his nearer neighbors, the most welcome among whom was a Dutch emigrant named Mappa, a gentleman of distinguished ability and high culture, loved to visit him and talk over the questions of the day and the news from Europe. This news he got from the “Leyden Gazette,” the “Galignani's Messenger” of those days, and inexplicably strange it seemed to him, at times, especially when he read therein that the Prussian eagles had turned back in ignominious retreat before the tricolored flag of the new republic.
He studied farming as he had studied the art of war, by method and rule, entering everything in his diary and recording his progress step by step. The minute accuracy of the inspector-general pervaded the daily habits of the farmer in his clearing. And never, perhaps, even as he rode his war-horse down the line, looking, as one who saw him describes him, “like the god of war himself” did he feel a truer pleasure than when he guided Molly, his quiet little mare, through the stumpy and half-worn paths of Steuben. In the evening chess or a book filled up the time pleasantly, Voltaire being one of his chief favorites, and Gibbon, whose great history had soon found its way across the Atlantic, coming in for a share of his attention. Of German literature, although it had already entered upon the brightest period of its marvelous development and might have held out, at least in the “Revolt of the Netherlands” and the “Thirty Years War,” great attractions for one who had himself been an actor in a great revolt and a great war, his biographer makes no mention, leaving us thereby to conclude that, like Frederick, he had failed to comprehend this part of the great changes that were going on around him. And thus the last four years of his life glided smoothly away, with little in them to recall Frederick's camp, or the drawing-rooms at Hechingen, but with something of a grateful variety, and much to awaken a placid interest. Loving much and much beloved, he had reached unconsciously, but not unprepared, the brink of the grave.
His last appearance in public was as president of the German Society, in New York, when with drums beating and banners displayed he marched at their head from the Lutheran school-house in Nassau Street, down Broadway and through Whitehall, to see them do their voluntary day's work upon the fortifications of Governor's Island. His last service to the country was in the summer of 1794, as president of the board of commissioners for fortifying the northern and western frontiers of the State; a work which filled up the whole summer, and was very near ending in capture by the Indians.
The winter of 1794 began early. In November the ground was already covered with snow. The log-hut began to look sad and lonely in the cold, white landscape. Little Molly could no longer make her way through the clearing. North's visit was over. Mulligan was alone with him, with the two servants. The regular time for going to New York was not quite come, but he resolved to anticipate it, and made all his preparations for the journey. The 25th of November came. There was no change in his firm tread, or the clear ring of his voice, or the kindly light of his hazel eye. He played his game of chess, he listened while Mulligan read; at eleven, his usual bedtime, they parted for the night. He had been for some years a communicant of the Lutheran Church, and before he laid his head upon his pillow, we may well believe that he had bowed it in prayer. Then came a few hours of sleep, and in sleep the death-stroke, sudden but not instantaneous, and made bitter by great agony. His servant ran to call Mulligan. “Do not be alarmed, my son,” Steuben said, as he saw his young friend rush into the room in terror. The motion of the left side was gone. He asked to be taken up, but returned quickly to bed again. The agony continued. By six he was speechless. It was not till the after noon of the next day that a physician could be procured. He was still breathing and, for a while, sensible. Remedies were applied, and with a momentary gleam of hope. Then he became unconscious, though breathing still. The night wore away, with occasional returns of convulsions but none of consciousness. The vigorous frame which had borne up so stoutly against cold and hunger, against sleepless nights and days of toil, struggled painfully with death. The faint breathing alone told the weeping attendants that he was yet alive. Towards noon it grew fainter and fainter, and at half past twelve of the second day it ceased.
North had been sent for, but the roads were so bad that all was over before he arrived. Mulligan had made most of the preparations for the funeral, and as the two mourners talked them over, they remembered that their friend had once pointed out a hemlock-tree on the north of the house as a good place to be buried in. There, then, they had a grave dug, although the snow around it melted and made it hard to keep it clear; and thither on the next day about noon, the neighbors, some thirty in all, joining with them, they bore him in silence and laid him down to his rest.
Alas that for this wearied and war-worn frame it should not have been the last rest! But early in the present century the town, which had outgrown the memory of its highest honor, wanted a road, and the engineer who laid it out ran it over Steuben's grave. The coffin was laid bare, remaining exposed for some days to idle gazers and the chances of the weather. It is even said, and we fear with too much truth, that some one, a little more daring in sacrilege, broke it open and tore off a piece of the military cloak. At last the shameful story reached the ears of Colonel Walker, who, hastening to the spot, had the coffin taken up and removed to a neighboring hill-side, where, under the shade of primeval trees, with fragrant flowers laughing all around, and within sound of a little brook whose waters chime sweetly with the music of the winds and the birds, a simple slab still bears the name of Steuben.
And now, if we undertake to assign him his rank in general history, although we should hesitate to call him a great man, we should feel fully justified in assigning him a prominent place among eminent men. In all the situations wherein he was placed he rose above the common level, and that he rose no higher must be attributed to the force of circumstances rather than to any want on his part of the power to rise. To have risen during the Seven Years War from a lieutenant of infantry to a responsible office on Frederick's own staff was a surer mark of superiority than the command of a division in any other army of those days. To have adapted the improvements of Prussian discipline to an army of freemen fighting for freedom required a fertility of resources, a familiarity with general principles, and a knowledge of human nature, which none but minds of a high order possess. To have done well whatever he undertook to do justifies the assumption that if circumstances had permitted him to undertake more he would still have done it well. Yet his methods were rather those of laborious industry than of that pervading power which constitutes greatness, or those rapid intuitions which constitute genius. He studied, thought, elaborated his thoughts, and translated them into action. But the paths that he marked out could all be distinctly traced to a well-known starting-point; and while you follow him with implicit confidence, you feel nothing in your confidence of that enthusiasm which was inspired by Napoleon, or that awe which was inspired by Washington. You would trust, obey, admire him; but there would be no absolute renunciation of self in your trust, no enchaining of will in your obedience, no overwhelming wonder in your admiration. Men looked up to him, and justly; but not as they look up to those heights which rise immeasurably beyond the reach of industry and force of will. For industry and force of will he possessed in a remarkable degree, combined with clearness of conception, steadiness of purpose, and accuracy of thought. His mind was eminently sound, his heart warm, and all through a life of camps and courts, overflowing with sympathy and benevolence. His culture was drawn mainly from French sources, but largely modified by strong German instincts, and the habits of German life. A few years later and he would have been a German patriot; and it was happy for him that, born in the age of cosmopolitan civilization, when the soldier of fortune was free to choose his banner and held to fight faithfully for it only as long as he remained under it, circumstances should have led him, after having won his training in the service of a great king, to apply it faithfully and honorably to the defense of a new republic.
In the military history of our Revolution, if we class men according to their services, no one after Washington and Greene stands so high as Steuben. For the services which Lafayette rendered, important as they were, were rather the effects of influence and position than of individual superiority. All that Steuben owed to position was the opportunity of action; the action itself was the fruit of his own strong will and thorough knowledge of his science. He was the creator of our regular army, the organizer of our military economy. The impress which he made upon our military character remained there long after his hand was withdrawn. The system of drills and manœuvres which in 1779 he drew up in German, to pass through bad French into English, continued to be the system by which all our regulars and militia were formed, until new modifications had been introduced into the art of war by the great wars of the French Revolution. Upon this point the testimony of Washington, Greene, Knox, Hamilton, Pickering, Peters, is uniform and decisive. He claimed nothing to which his claim is not fully borne out by what they wrote and said. His system of reviews, reports, and inspection gave efficiency to the soldier, confidence to the commander, and saved the treasury not less than six hundred thousand dollars.
The private life of a man so large a portion of whose life was passed in the performance of public duties affords little room for the growth of distinctive characteristics. There was a slight haughtiness in his manner which would appear to have been the reflection of his military habit of command rather than the product of arrogance or unbecoming pride; a manner which seemed to say, I know my own position and worth, and expect you to recognize them; but I am equally ready to acknowledge yours. His pride never seems to have degenerated into vanity, that unbecoming mantle in which so many great men have more than half enveloped their greatness, but was a soldierly pride throughout, founded upon the consciousness of what he had done and was still able to do. In society he always appeared to advantage, particularly in that test of true refinement, the society of ladies; and if his bow savored somewhat of formality, his vein of compliment and humor was always happy. “Ah, madam,” said he, bowing low, on being presented to a beautiful Miss Sheaf, and studiously mispronouncing the name, “I have always been cautioned to avoid mischief, but I never knew till to-day how dangerous she was.”
Of his generosity innumerable anecdotes have been preserved. Like Goldsmith, he could not withhold even the last penny in his purse when want or suffering asked for it. How often he shared it with the destitute, how bitterly he felt the ungenerous conduct of Congress which made it impossible for him to give as freely as his heart would have dictated, how munificently he employed his opportunities as a land-holder to provide some old soldier with a home, are things which his contemporaries well knew and which posterity should not forget.
Unless Cowper's —
“World that seems
To toll the death-bell of its own decree,
And by the voice of all its elements
To preach the general doom,”
is to be classed with Fleury's prognostics.
- ↑ Inf. xiii. 62: “Morte comune e delle corti vizio.”
- ↑ Sparks, Writings of Washington, v. 33.
- ↑ The discovery of a letter of Washington's with these very words in it, confirms Walpole's story, hitherto called in question as inconsistent with Washington's character. Vide Irving, i. 124, note.
- ↑ Sparks, Life of Washington, p. 65.
- ↑ Lett. to Marquis de la Rouerie, Oct. 7, 1795.
- ↑ Sparks, Writings of Washington, ix. 145.
- ↑ Sparks, Writings of Washington, v. 244.
- ↑ Letter to Lord G. Germain. Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, ii. 96, 97, note.
- ↑ A Biographical Sketch of the Life of Baron Steuben, etc., by General W. North, Steuben's Aid. Kapp, p. 129, 130.
- ↑ Marshall's Washington, i. 215, 2d ed.
- ↑ Sparks, Writings of Washington, iii. 68.
- ↑ Nearly Washington's words. Vide, also, for a vivid picture of the state of things at Morristown, Washington to Wayne, Sparks, v. 232, and to Geo. Clinton, v. 238.
- ↑ North in Thacher's Military Journal, p. 416.
- ↑ The military bibliography of that period is briefly given by Washington in a letter to a young officer. Bland (the newest edition) stands foremost; also an Essay on the Art of War: Instructions for Officers, lately published at Philadelphia. The Partisan, Young and others. Sparks, Writings of Washington, iii. 154. Among General Greene's books is a New System of Military Discipline by a General Officer, published by K. Aitken, printer and book-seller, Philadelphia, 1776, with an appendix containing nine sections of “rules, maxims, etc.,” some of the most brilliant of which are “Nothing but principle can conduct a man through life;” “Bad habits are more difficult to correct than to prevent;” “The mind must be prepared before it can receive;” “That attack has least effect which is most obstructed,” etc., etc.