|Name:||Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben|
|Birth Day:||September 17, 1730|
|Death Date:||Nov 28, 1794 (age 64)|
As per our current Database, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben died on Nov 28, 1794 (age 64).
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He enlisted in the Prussian Army at seventeen and served as a Lieutenant during the Seven Years War.
Baron von Steuben was born in the fortress town of Magdeburg, Germany, on September 17, 1730, the son of Royal Prussian Engineer Capt. Wilhelm Freiherr von Steuben and his wife, Elizabeth von Jagvodin. When his father entered the service of Empress Anna of Russia, young Friedrich went with him to Crimea and then to Kronstadt, staying until the Russian war against the Turks under General Burkhard Christoph von Münnich. In 1740, Steuben's father returned to Prussia and Friedrich was educated in the garrison towns Neisse and Breslau by Jesuits. Despite his education by a Catholic order, von Steuben remained critical of Roman Catholicism. Originally, von Steuben's family were Protestants in the Kingdom of Prussia, and after his emigration to America he became a member of the Reformed German Church, a Reformed congregation in New York. It is said that at age 14 he served as a volunteer with his father in one of the campaigns of the War of the Austrian Succession.
Baron von Steuben joined the Prussian Army at age 17. He served as a second lieutenant during the Seven Years' War in 1756, and was wounded at the 1757 Battle of Prague. He served as adjutant to the free battalion of General Johann von Mayr and was promoted to first lieutenant in 1759. In August 1759 he was wounded a second time at the Battle of Kunersdorf. In the same year, he was appointed deputy quartermaster at the general headquarters. In 1761 he became adjutant of the Major General Von Knobloch upon being taken prisoner by the Russians at Treptow. He subsequently attained the rank of captain, and served as aide-de-camp to Frederick the Great; in 1762 he was one of 13 young officers chosen to participate in a special course of instruction delivered by the king himself.
Upon the reduction of the army at the end of the war, in 1763, Steuben was one of many officers who found themselves unemployed. Towards the end of his life, Steuben indicated in a letter that "an inconsiderate step and an implacable personal enemy" led to his leaving the Prussian army.
In 1763 Steuben had been formally introduced to the future French Minister of War, Claude Louis, Comte de Saint-Germain, in Hamburg. They met again in Paris in 1777. The Count, fully realizing the potential of an officer with Prussian general staff training, introduced him to Benjamin Franklin. Franklin, however, was unable to offer Steuben a rank or pay in the American army. The Continental Congress had grown tired of foreign mercenaries coming to America and demanding a high rank and pay. Promoting these men over qualified American officers caused discontent in the ranks. Von Steuben would have to go to America strictly as a volunteer, and present himself to Congress. Steuben left these first meetings in disgust and returned to Prussia. Steuben found waiting for him allegations that he engaged in homosexual relationships with young men while in the service of Prince Josef Friedrich Wilhelm of Hohenzollern-Hechingen. The allegations were never proven, but Steuben knew they would stymie his chances at an officer's position in Europe. Threatened with prosecution for his alleged homosexuality, Steuben returned to Paris. Rumors followed him from Prussia to America that he was homosexual, but there never was an investigation of von Steuben and he received a congressional pension after the war.
In 1764 Steuben became Hofmarschall to Fürst Josef Friedrich Wilhelm of Hohenzollern-Hechingen, a post he held until 1777. In 1769 the Duchess of Wurttemberg, niece of Frederick the Great, presented him with the Cross of the Order of De la Fidelite. In 1771 he began to use the title baron. That same year he accompanied the prince to France, hoping to borrow money. Failing to find funds, they returned to Germany in 1775, deeply in debt.
The Baron, his Italian Greyhound Azor (which he took with him everywhere), his young aide-de-camp Louis de Pontière, his military secretary, Peter Stephen Du Ponceau (then called Pierre Etienne Du Ponceau), and two other companions, reached Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on December 1, 1777, where they were almost arrested for being British because Steuben had mistakenly outfitted them in red uniforms. They were extravagantly entertained in Boston. On February 5, 1778, Steuben and his party arrived in York, Pennsylvania, where the Continental Congress had relocated after being ousted from Philadelphia by the British advance. Arrangements were made for Steuben to be paid following the successful completion of the war according to his contributions. He arrived at Valley Forge on February 23, 1778, and reported for duty as a volunteer. One soldier's first impression of the Baron was "of the ancient fabled God of War ... he seemed to me a perfect personification of Mars. The trappings of his horse, the enormous holsters of his pistols, his large size, and his strikingly martial aspect, all seemed to favor the idea. He turned the volunteers into a great army."
On May 5, 1778, on General Washington's recommendation, Congress appointed Steuben inspector general of the army, with the rank and pay of major general. The internal administration had been neglected, and no books had been kept either as to supplies, clothing, or men. Steuben became aware of the "administrative incompetence, graft, war profiteering" that existed. He enforced the keeping of exact records and strict inspections. His inspections saved the army an estimated loss of five to eight thousand muskets.
The first results of Steuben's training were in evidence at the Battle of Barren Hill, May 20, 1778, and then again at the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778. Steuben, by then serving in Washington's headquarters, was the first to determine that the enemy was heading for Monmouth.
On May 2, 1779, during the second Middlebrook encampment, a review of the army was held to honor the French minister Conrad Alexandre Gérard de Rayneval and the Spanish diplomat Juan de Miralles. Led by General William Smallwood, four battalions performed precise military formations to demonstrate their mastery of Steuben's training. After the review, about sixty generals and colonels attended a dinner hosted by Steuben in a large tent near his headquarters at the Abraham Staats House.
In 1780 Steuben sat on the court-martial of the British Army officer Major John André, captured and charged with espionage in conjunction with the defection of General Benedict Arnold. He later traveled with Nathanael Greene, the new commander of the Southern campaign. He quartered in Virginia, since U.S. supplies and soldiers would be provided to the army from there. Steuben would help in the defense of Virginia with approximately 1,000 militia fighting a delaying action in the Battle of Blandford. During the spring of 1781, he aided Greene in the campaign in the South, culminating in the delivery of 450 Virginia Continentals to Lafayette in June.
The Steuben House, presented to Steuben as a gift for his services in the Continental Army, is located at New Bridge Landing in River Edge, New Jersey. The house and surrounding farmland were seized in 1781 from a Loyalist family. The house looks much as it did after Steuben renovated it. The State of New Jersey took possession of the historic mansion and one acre of ground for $9,000 on June 27, 1928. It was opened as a public museum in September 1939. The Bergen County Historical Society opens the building for special events. It is under the jurisdiction of the Historic New Bridge Landing Park Commission.
He was forced to take sick leave, rejoining the army for the final campaign at Yorktown, where his role was as commander of one of the three divisions of Washington's troops. In 1783, General Von Steuben joined General Knox at Vail's Gate, near West Point, in the fall of 1782 and in early 1783 moved to the Verplanck homestead, at Mount Gulian, across the Hudson River from Washington's headquarters in Newburgh. Steuben gave assistance to Washington in demobilizing the army in 1783 as well as aiding in the defense plan of the new nation. In May 1783, Steuben presided over the founding of the Society of the Cincinnati. He was discharged from the military with honor on March 24, 1784.
On December 23, 1783, the state of New Jersey presented him with the use of an estate in Bergen County now known as Steuben House, which had been confiscated from Loyalist Jan Zabriskie in 1781. Located in the formerly strategic New Bridge Landing, the estate included a gristmill and about 40 acres (16 ha) of land. Legislators initially conditioned the grant, requiring Steuben to "hold, occupy and enjoy the said estate in person, and not by tenant." Gen. Philemon Dickinson of the New Jersey Militia informed the baron of this gift and responded to his inquiries that "there are on the premises an exceeding good House, an excellent barn, together with many useful outbuildings, all of which I am told, want some repairs...there is...a Grist-mill; a good Orchard, some meadow Ground, & plenty of Wood. The distance from N York by land 15 miles, but you may keep a boat & go from your own door to N York by water—Oysters, Fish & wild fowl in abundance—Possession will be given to you in the Spring, when you will take a view of the premises." Von Steuben spent considerable sums to repair wartime damages to the house and restore its commercial operations under former aide Walker.
Steuben became a U.S. citizen by act of the Pennsylvania legislature in March 1784 and later by the New York authorities in July 1786. With the war over, Steuben resigned from service and first settled with his longtime companion, William North, for whom he created a special room at his retreat he called the Louvre on Manhattan Island, where he became a prominent figure and elder in the German Reformed Church. From 1785 until his death in 1794, he served as president of the German Society of the City of New York, a charitable society founded in 1784 to assist German immigrants.
In 1786 during Shays' Rebellion, under the written name "Bellisarius", Steuben made suggestions of an oligarchy in the Massachusetts government.
On September 5, 1788, the New Jersey Legislature gave Baron von Steuben full title to the former Zabriskie estate. A month later, recognizing his financial embarrassment, Steuben wrote another former aide-de-camp and companion, William North, recognizing: "The Jersey Estate must and is to be sold. Walker is my administrator, all debts are to be paid out of it." On November 6, 1788, Steuben again wrote North (at his new home in Duanesburg, New York), noting "My Jersey Estate is Advertised but not yet Sold, from this Walker Shall immediately pay to you the money, you so generously lend me and all my debts in New-York will be payed. I support my present poverty with more heroism than I Expected. All Clubs and parties are renounced, I seldom leave the House." Steuben eventually sold the New Jersey property to a son of the previous owner, and it remained in the Zabriskie family until 1909. It is the only remaining eighteenth-century building that von Steuben owned.
Von Steuben was present at the first inauguration of George Washington in New York in 1789.
Von Steuben moved upstate and settled in Oneida County on a small estate in the vicinity of Rome, New York, on land granted to him for his military service and where he had spent summers. He was later appointed a regent for what evolved into the University of the State of New York. In 1790, Congress awarded him a pension of $2,500 a year, which he kept until his death.
Von Steuben died on November 28, 1794, at his estate in Oneida County, and was buried in a grove at what became the Steuben Memorial State Historic Site. The estate became part of the town of Steuben, New York, which was named for him.
Von Steuben was one of four European military leaders who assisted the U.S. cause during the Revolution and was honored with a statue in Lafayette Square, just north of the White House, in Washington, D.C. The statue by Albert Jaegers was dedicated in 1910. A copy was dedicated in Potsdam, Germany in 1911, and destroyed during World War II. A new cast was given in honor of German-American friendship in 1987, and to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin. It was installed in the Dahlem district, in what had been the U.S. sector of the formerly divided city. An additional cast is in Steuben's home town of Magdeburg. Statues of Steuben by J. Otto Schweizer can be found in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and Utica, New York, in addition to an equestrian statue by Schweizer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A bust of Steuben is in the garden of the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.
The Steuben Society was founded in 1919 as "an educational, fraternal, and patriotic organization of American citizens of German background". In the difficult post-World War I years the Society helped the German-American community to reorganize. It is now one of the largest organizations for Americans of German descent.
The various depictions of Steuben in popular U.S. media include portrayals by Nehemiah Persoff in the 1979 U.S. TV miniseries The Rebels, Kurt Knudson in the 1984 TV miniseries George Washington, being voiced by Austrian-American Arnold Schwarzenegger in the animated series Liberty's Kids, and by David Cross on the "Philadelphia" episode of Drunk History.
In 2007, a popular documentary DVD was released by LionHeart FilmWorks and director Kevin Hershberger titled Von Steuben's Continentals: The First American Army. The 60-minute, live-action documentary details the life, uniforms, camp life, food, weapons, equipment and drill of the Continental soldier 1775–1781, as taught and developed by Baron von Steuben.
Currently, Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben is 291 years, 2 months and 15 days old. Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben will celebrate 292nd birthday on a Saturday 17th of September 2022.
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