Baron Von Stueben was born on November 15, 1730 in Germany. From an early age, he was familiar with the military. His father was an engineer lieutenant in the Prussian army. Von Stueben himself joined the army when he was only 17 years old. He served in the army under Frederick the Great in the Seven Years War. In 1763, however, he was discharged from the army as a captain. No one knows why.
Baron Von Steuben worked for the german courts after his military service. He then tried unsuccessfully to join the ranks of the French and Austrian armies. When he heard that Benjamin Franklin was in France, he traveled there in hopes of offering his services to the Patriot cause. Franklin met with Von Steuben and took an immediate liking to him. He wrote Von Steuben a letter of recommendation and sent it to George Washington. Washington assigned Von Steuben to his winter quarters at Valley Forge.
At Valley Forge, Von Steuben’s value to the Patriot cause was realized. He transformed the raw recruits and militia men into a well-disciplined fighting force. He taught badly needed military tactics, drill formations, command structure and line movements. The soldiers loved his style and broken English. Von Steuben was instrumental in raising the army’s morale at the horrible conditions of Valley Forge. While his main contributions to the Patriot cause were at Valley Forge, he also served with Nathaniel Greene and the southern army, and was a divisional commander under George Washington at the Yorktown campaign. He served in the American army until 1784. He died November 28, 1794.