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Baron von Steuben

The Prussian Drillmaster


Baron von Steuben

Statue of Baron von Steuben at Valley Forge

Photograph © 2008 Patricia A. Hickman

Arriving at Valley Forge on February 23, 1778, Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was a former Prussian staff officer who had volunteered to aid the American cause. Assessing his credentials, Washington understood that von Steuben could be an outstanding training officer and tasked him with drilling the army. Aided by Colonel Alexander Hamilton and Major General Nathanael Greene, von Steuben devised a progressive training routine that began with a single "model company." This approach resulted in the Continental Army departing Valley Forge as a well-trained, capable fighting force. The effects of von Steuben's training regimen were first seen at the Battle of Monmouth when American forces fought toe-to-toe with British troops. Later in the war, he saw service in the South with Greene and commanded one of Washington's divisions at Yorktown.

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