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RESOURCES Steuben County Steuben Co NY Map
New York

By Prof. W. W. Clayton.
Philadelphia: Lewis, Peck & Co. 1879.  Press of J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia
*Transcribed by Jennifer Morse,  2008*

Baron Steuben


  BARON STEUBEN: His Early Life and Military Services in Europe.
        This county derives its name from Frederic William Augustus, Baron Steuben. The baron never had the honor of living within its borders. He was one of those distinguished foreigners, like Lafayette, De Kalb, and Kosciusko, who came to this country to aid the cause of liberty in the American Revolution. Unlike those other distinguished foreigners, however, who first became conspicuously known on this side of the ocean, Steuben had acquired a high military reputation in the Prussian service, where he had attained the rank of aide-de-camp to Frederic the Great, and was particularly connected with the quartermaster-general's department.
        Frederic William Augustus, Baron Steuben, was born about 1730, in some part of Germany, probably in Suabia, as he possessed a small estate in that province. That he was not a Prussian by birth is shown by a remark of his on one occasion, that if he had been a native subject the great Frederic would certainly have dispatched him as a prisoner to Spandau for daring to request a dismission from his service. The father of Baron Steuben in 1779 wrote a letter to Dr. Franklin, making inquiry about his son. It is dated Custrin, Prussia, Oct. 8, 1779, and is signed "W. K. von Steuben, Major and Chevalier of the Order of Merit." In this letter the father says he is eighty-one years old, and his wife seventy-three.
        Steuben was fortunate enough to engage the friendship and confidence of Prince Henry, the king's brother, to whose family he was for some time attahched. In an unfortunate campaign, the prince incurred the displeasure of his inexorable brother. He was ordered to retire from the field, and his suite were placed in situations intended to make them feel the misfortune of being friends to a man who had dared to displease the king. Steuben was sent into Silesia, with orders to recruit, equip, and discipline, within a certain period, a regiment broken down by long and hard service. The pecuniary allowance was wholly insufficient for the end proposed; but in such a service no intrinsic difficulties could excuse a failure in executing the king's commands. The baron repaired to the appointed spot, and by his unwearied exertions the regiment was marched complete to headquarters within the prescribed time. This service was performed at an early period, and probably procured the appointment which he subsequently held, of aide-de-camp to Frederic himself.
        An arbitraty exertion of the royal authority, consequent upon the peace of Hubertsburg, in 1763, induced him to withdraw from the Prussian army, which he did without forfeiting the favor of the king. He seems ever after to have retained a strong attachment for his stern old master, and was observed to be much affected on receiving news of that monarch's death in America.
        That his military talents were highly esteemed in Prussia is shown by a fact of more recent date. When, in the course of the Revolutionary war in this country, Congress applied to several European courts for a transcript of their military codes, the prime minister of Prussia replied that their military instructions had never been published, nor even transcribed, except for the use of the generals. He added that he was surprised at the request, for he understood that Baron Steuben was employed in the American service, and that no one was better able to give accurate information respecting the minutest details of the Prussian system.
        Upon leaving the army, Steuben repaired to his estate of Weilheim, in southeastern Bavaria. In 1764, Prince Hohenzollern-Hechingen made him marshal of the court, with a salary of twelve hundred florins. He was at the same period appointed colonel in the Circle of Suabia, an office more honorable than lucrative. The troops of the Circle were chiefly militia, and the duty consisted in little else than attending a periodical review. In 1767, Prince Margrave, of Baden, made him Knight of the Order of Fidelity, and soon after gave him the chief command of the troops, with the rank and title of general, and yearly emoluments to the amount of two thousand florins. Thus situated, he refused two liberal proffers from the prime minister of Austria to induce him to enter the service of the emperor.
        Steuben retained through life the pride and bearing of an old soldier. He always wore the insignia of his order, a star ornamented with gold and diamonds, suspended at the breast of his coat. His military subordinates were obliged to conform strictly to the rules of etiquette in rendering the outward testimonials of respect due to his office. A little incident, which occurred near the close of the American


war, affords an amusing illustration of this amiable weakness.
        One day, while at dinner at headquarters, the baron happened to express himself with much feeling and energy on some important subject. Gouverneur Morris, who sat at his right hand, was peculiarly struck with the remark, and, in his frank way, slapped Steuben somewhat roughly on the back, and cried out with an oath, "Well done, general, well done!" Much irritated at the insult, as he deemed it, the old baron abruptly quitted the table, and retired to his marquee, exclaiming, with great warmth, "Confound the fellow! with his old wooden leg he will govern the whole country!"
        The circumstances which induced Baron Steuben to take an active part in the American struggle for independence are briefly as follows:
        In April, 1777, he visited Paris, with the intention of repairing to London about the end of June, whither he had been invited by Lords Spencer and Warwick, whose acquaintance he had previously formed in Germany. As good fortune would have it, he was induced by Count de St. Germain, the French minister of war, to postpone his visit to England, and finally to abandon it; otherwise, he might never have joined the American army.
        There was much interest at that time in France respecing the difficulties between England and the colonies, and the French ministers wished to aid the revolutionists as far as they could without openly compromising themselves with England.
        On his arrival in Paris, Steuben sent a note to St. Germain, testifying a desire to visit him at Versailles. The same evening Col. Pagenstecher, a gentleman attached to the court, waited upon Steuben to inform him that St. Germain desired him not to come to Versailles, but to be at the arsenal in Paris in the course of a few days, where the count wished to converse with him on business of importance. As Steuben had no project to execute, nor any favor to ask of the count, there was a mystery in this proceeding which he could not fathom. At the interview, however, which soon occurred, all was explained.
       St. Germain laid the American cause before the baron in as flattering colors as possible. The Spanish minister, Count d'Aranda, the Prince de Montbarrey, and, finally, Vergennes himself, added the wight of their authority to the proposal of St. Germain. As the French ministers had no authority to settle upon terms, they referred the matter to the American envoys then in Paris. At the house of M. de Beaumarchais, Steuben was introduced to Dr. Franklin and Silas Deane. At the same place he became acquainted with Peter S. du Ponceau, then a young man only seventeen years of age, whose services as an interpreter (for he spoke English fluently) were peculiarly valuable. The envoys showed a desire to enlist the baron in the American cause, but when the terms were mentioned a difficulty immediately arose. Mr. Deane was willing to enter into any proper engagement, but Dr. Franklin demurred, and urged that he had no authority from Congress to form any contract whatever with any foreign officer, still less to make the required advance of funds to defray the expenses of the voyage. On the contrary, Congress had already refused to ratify the conditions upon which he had engaged M. Ducoudray and the officers of his suite to embark for America.
        To the baron this answer was decisive, and he soon after left Paris and returned to Germany. But St. Germain and others were unwilling to let the matter rest. They wrote to Steuben that a ship was all ready to sail for America, and induced him to return early in August, and embark without any stipulations from the American ministers, but with letters of introduction to Washington and the President of Congress. On the failure of any other chance, he was to rely on the French court for remuneration, and Beaumarchais advanced the money to defray immediate expenses.
        The French ship, L'Heureux, of twenty-eight guns, commanded by Capt. Landais, who had served under Bougainville in his voyage round the world, was appointed for the expedition. Her name was changed to Le Flamand, and she was ostensibly freighted by private individuals for a voyage to Martinique. But her lading really consisted of arms and munitions of war for the American service, and the captain had secret orders to proceed to the United States.
        Baron Steuben embarked at Marseilles, on the 26th of September, 1777, under the assumed name of Monsieur de Frank. His suite consisted of M. du Ponceau, who acted as private secretary, and three French officers, - Romanai, L'Enfant, and Ponthierre. After a rough voyage the ship arrived at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the 1st of December. On their first communication with the shore, they received the news of the capture of Burgoyne, an event of happy omen to Steuben, as it assured him that he had not embarked in a desperate cause.
        He immediately wrote to Gen. Washington, inclosing Dr. Franklin's letter, and requesting permission to enter the American service, if no other arrangement could immediately be made, in the capacity of a volunteer. "I could say, moreover," he added, "were it not for the fear of offending your modesty, that your Excellency is the only person under whom, after having served under the King of Prussia, I could wish to pursue an art to which I have wholly given up myself. I intend to go to Boston in a few days, where I shall present my letters to Mr. Hancock, member of Congress, and there I shall take convenient measures."
        Washington replied on the 9th of January, 1778, referring the baron to Congress, then in session at Yorktown, Pa. On the day after his arrival at that place, Congress appointed a committee of five members to confer with him. The famous Dr. Witherspoon was chairman, and the only one to whom Steuben could explain himself in French. Steuben said, in answer to the questions of the committee, that he had come to serve as a volunteer in the army, and in order to do this he had resigned offices in Europe which gave him an income of six hundred pounds sterling. If his services should not prove acceptable, or if the United States should fail in establishing their independence, he would hold them quit of any obligation to him, either for indemnity or reward. But if the value of his services


should be acknowledged by the commander-in-chief, and the war should have a prosperous issue, he hoped that Congress would restore the money he had advanced, would render him an equivalent for the offices he had resigned, and give him such further compensation as they might deem he had deserved. In the mean time he expected that the officers of his suite should receive employment suitable to their experience and rank. These modest and reasonable propositions were immediately accepted by Congress, with a vote of thanks to Steuben for his patriotic offer, and an order for him to join the army at once, which was then in winter quarters at Valley Forge. His reputation had preceded him, and all ranks were eager to see and greet the distinguished foreigner, who had come to devoe his military skill to the cause of American freedom.


        The condition of the Continental troops during the gloomy winter at Valley Forge is too well known to need description. It was wretched in the extreme. Reduced to a mere handful in point of numbers, half-clothed, and ill-sheltered from the inclemency of the weather, they owed their preservation to the supineness or ignorance of the enemy. The baron frequently declared that no European army could be kept together under such dreadful privations. Discipline was relaxed, and the performance of military duties frequently postponed, from the necessity of employing the soldiers in exersions to procure daily subsistence, or of keeping them housed because they were too poorly clad to endure the open air. As he passed through the cantonment, says his aide-de-camp, the baron was obliged to see through the half-closed doors of the huts the wretched figures of the soldiers, with only a blanket thrown over them, and to hear, at every turn, their complaints for the want of pay, clothes, and provisions.
        The want of economy and order in the army at that time was fearful, and needed just such a regulating hand as Baron Steuben's. Richard Peters, who then belonged to the war department, affirmed that it was customary in the estimates of that office to allow five thousand muskets beyond the actual number of muster of the whole army. Yet this allowance was never sufficient to guard against the waste and misapplication that occurred. We have the same authority for the assertion that, in the last inspection return of the army, before he left the war department, Baron Steuben being then inspector-general, only three muskets were deficient, and those were accounted for.
        When the spring opened partial supplies were received, and the new levies arrived in considerable numbers. To bring order out of the general confusion, to reduce raw recruits to a homogeneous mass with the old troops, to accustom the whole to the utmost precision of movement and management of arms, and to yield punctilious obedience to orders, was the hard task assigned to Baron Steuben. He was obliged to instruct equally the officers and men - the former to lead and the latter to follow - in intracate evolutions, with which all were alike unacquainted. His difficulties were increased by his ignorance of the English language. His secretary, Du Ponceau, who might have aided him in this point, was sick and absent from the army. At the first parade, the troops, neither understanding the command nor being able to follow in movements to which they had not been accustomed, were getting fast into confusion. At that moment, Captain Walker, then of the 4th New York Regiment, advanced from the line and offered his assistance to translate the orders and give them out to the troops. "If I had seen an angel from heaven," said the baron, many years after, "I should not have been more rejoiced. Perhaps there was not another officer in the army (unless Hamilton be excepted) who could speak French and English so well as to be understood in both." Walker became his aide de-camp, and in the future was hardly ever from his side. Still, as the baron slowly acquired our language, his eagerness and warmth of temper would frequently involve him in difficulties. On such occasions, after exhausting all the execrations he could think of in German and French, he would call upon his faithful aide for assistance. "Venez, Walker, mon ami! Sacre, de gauchrie of des badauts, je ne puis plus. I can curse dem no more!"
        A temporary department of inspection was organized, and the baron placed at its head. He was efficient and indefatigable in the discharge of his duties, and under his training the raw and heterogeneous mass of recruits and veterans soon began to assume the solidity and discipline of an army. Every fair day, when the troops were to manoeuvre, the baron rose at three o'clock in the morning, and while the servant dressed his hair he smoked and drank one cup of strong coffee. At sunrise he was on his horse, and, with or without suite, galloped to the parade-ground. There was no waiting for a tardy aide, and one who came late was sufficiently punished by a reproachful look for the neglect of duty.
        Dr. Thacher, in his "Military Journal," describes a scene on the parade-ground, showing how the baron attended to the minutest details: "The troops were paraded in a single line, with shouldered arms, every officer in his particular station. The baron first reviewed the line in this position, passing in front with a scrutinizing eye; after which he took into his hand the musket and accoutrements of every soldier, examining them with particular accuracy, applauding or condemning according as he found them. He required that the musket and bayonet should exhibit the brightest polish; not a spot of rust or defect in any part could elude his vigilance. He inquired also into the conduct of the officers towards their men, censuring every fault, and applauding every meritorious action. Next he required of me, as surgeon, a list of the sick, with a particular statement of their accomodations, mode of treatment, and even visited some of the sick in their cabins." *
        The value of Steuben's services was soon apparent. On the 30th of April, 1778, Washington wrote to Congress, "I should do injustice if I were to be longer silent with regard to the merits of Baron Steuben. His knowledge of his profession, added to the zeal which he has discovered since he began upon the functions of his office, leads me to consider him as an acquisition to the service, and to recommend him to the attention of Congress." Congress, on the

*Thacher's Military Journal, second edition, p. 160.


5th of May, appointed him inspector-general of the army, with the rank of major general.
        The department of inspection was now organized on a permanent basis. Two ranks of inspectors were appointed. The lowest were charged with the inspection of brigades, and were chosen by the field-officers of the body to which they belonged. Over these were placed, as sub-inspectors, five other officers, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Among these were two French gentlemen, Ternant and Ficury, whose knowledge of both French and English made them necessary assistants of Baron Steuben. The duty of the inspectors was to superintend the exercise and discipline of the troops, and to assist in the execution of all field manoeuvres, especially in time of action. They reviewed and inspected the number and condition of the men, and the state of the arms and accoutrements, and reported to the commander-in-chief any loss or damage, and by what means it had occurred. The various means for the accomplishment of this very essential part of the service were projected and matured with great labor by Steuben himself, and they were productive of the happiest results. Much unnecessary expense was avoided, and habits of order and carefulness introduced throughout the army.
        Baron Steuben, while engaged in the active duties of his office as inspector-general of the army, produced the first military manuel or book of tactics and discipline ever published in this country. This book was undertaken in the autumn of 1778, to supply a demand which at that period became an urgent necessity. Hitherto to the system intoduced by the baron had been extended to the troops in separate and remote sections of the country by means of officers dispatched for the purpose, who had previously learned and practiced the rules under the eye of Steuben himself. Ternant had been sent upon this errand to the Southern army, and Neuville to the department in command of Gates. But differences of practice still existed, which were perplexing when large bodies of troops were brought together, and in order to insure more perfect harmony it was deemed advisable that a manual should be prepared and printed for distribution among the proper officers.
        Baron Steuben engaged in the work at the request of Washington and the board of war. The difficulties in the way of executing the project were great. From his imperfect acquaintance with the English language the work was originally composed in French, and the manuscript then translated into English by his aides, or persons connected with the war department, who were not well acquainted with military phrases and duties. No treatise on military science could be obtained to serve as a basis for the work. Everything had to be drawn from the baron's recollections of the Prussian system, and then modified to suit the peculiar condition of the American troops.
        It is no small praise of a work executed under such circumstances that it was immediately approved by Washington, relied upon for direction during the remainder of the war, and continued to be in use as the only authority for disciplining the militia of the several States for nearly half a century. For this purpose the work was republished in many of the States. The completed manuscript was submitted to the perusal of Washington Feb. 26, 1779. Congress adopted it by a resolution dated on the 29th of March. Col. Pickering, who superintended the passage of the work through the press, wrote to Steuben announcing its publication on the 19th of June.
        The peculiar duties of Steuben during the war required his services in different parts of the country. In August, 1779, he left the main army on a visit to Providence, in order to introduce among the troops under Gen. Gates the rules which had been adopted in the main body. He remained in Providence but a short time, being ordered to Boston to receive and accompany to headquarters the Chevalier de la Luzerne, who had just landed as minister form France to Congress.
        Steuben, although ardently desiring to take charge of a separate command and to engage in more active service, remained in the discharge of the duties of his office as inspector-general until the autumn of 1780. Circumstances then occurred which were destined soon to gratify his long-cherished wish. The defeat of Gen. Gates at Camden, on the 16th of August, had entirely exposed the southern country to the operations of the army under Cornwallis. In October, Gen. Greene was appointed to the command of the South, with all the troops raised in the Southern States destined for his support. Baron Steuben was ordered to accompany him, to aid in recruiting and disciplining the raw troops which were to form the bulk of his army.
        On arriving at Richmond, about the middle of November, Gen. Greene decided that Virginia could only be defended from the Carolinas: that unless the British forces in those States could be kept actively engaged there, the whole country up the Potomac must fall into their power. Therefore he proceeded to his chosen field of operations, leaving Steuben in command in Virginia, with instructions to recruit and discipline troops as rapidly as possible, and forward them, together with stores and provisions, to his support in North Carolina.
        An odious task was thus imposed upon Steuben; for the people fo Virginia, in the exposed condition of their own State, with Portsmouth still occupied by the British Gen. Leslie, would be unwilling to surrender so large a portion of their scanty resources to augment an army whose operations at best afforded them but a doubtful protection.
        Gen. Greene, in a letter, laid his plans before Gov. Jefferson, recommended the baron in strong terms, and invoked for him the aid and co-operation of the State executive.
        The quota of troops fixed by Congress to complete the Virginia line amounted to nearly six thousand. The Assembly, under the circumstances, with apparent reluctance, and after much debate, voted to raise three thousand by a draft, which was appointed to be held on the 10th of February, 1781. All the troops Steuben had been able to send to Gen. Greene up to this time was a force of about four hundred (out of a destitute squad of nine hundred, who had been left at liberty by the withdrawal of Leslie from Portsmouth, on the 24th of November), for whom only, with great labor, he could find equipments. The others had been ordered to Chesterfield Court-House, and the baron had made strenuous exertions to procure for them the necessary articles of equipment.


        We mention these particulars to show how limited were the resources of Steuben, either to comply with the urgent calls of Greene for "more troops and supplies," or in the case of an invasion by a naval expedition, to which their situation peculiarly exposed them, to be in readiness promptly to defend the State.
        While the draft was pending, such a naval expedition suddenly surprised the country. The traitor, Benedict Arnold, with a flotilla of twenty-seven sail and sixteen hundred effective men, entered the James River, and crowded rapidly up to the capital of the State. On the 4th they landed at Westover, twenty miles below Richmond, which now appeared to be the object of attack. No force had yet been collected. Seeing that Richmond waslikely to fall into the hands of the enemy, great exertions were made to remove the archives, arms, and military stores to the south side of the river, which object was in a great measure accomplished. Most of the stores were sent to Westham, seven miles from Richmond, where they were ferried across the river, and guarded by a small body of Continentals.
        Arnold landed nine hundred of his men at Westover, and commenced his march on the afternoon of the 4th on Richmond, which place he reached at noon the next day. Baron Steuben dispatched one or two hundred militia, all that could be collected, to harass the British on the march, but the service was ill-performed, and they entered the capital without loss of a man. Arnold with five hundred men remaining in the town, Col. Simcoe with the remainder pushed forward to Westham, where he burned a valuable foundry, boring-mill, laboratory, and some smaller buildings.*  Five brass four-pounders, which had been sunk in the river, were discovered, raised, and carried off, and six tons of powder were thrown into the water. But, as they had no means of crossing the river, the major part of the stores were out of their reach, and Simcoe returned immediately to Richmond. Arnold sent a flag to Steuben, offering not to burn the town if the ships should be allowed to pass up unmolested and carry off the tobacco which was there deposited. This proposition was rejected, and the enemy concluding to leave the tobacco, after burning the public buildings and plundering many private houses, commenced thier retreat to Westover, where they arrived on the 7th. In forty-eight hours they had passed thirty miles into the country, occupied the capital of the State, destroyed much public property, and returned to their shipping without the loss of a man.
       Deeply sensible of the insult they had received, Steuben strained every nerve to collect troops and harass the British on their way down the river. Rightly judging that Arnold's force would land at Hood's, the baron ordered Col. Clarke to form an ambuscade, with two hundred militia, at a short distance from the landing-place. On the 10th the shipping anchored, as was expected, and a party of five hundred men drove in the American picket. When they came within forty paces, the militia poured in a general fire, which killed seven men and wounded twenty-three others. The British returned the fire without effect, then pushed forward with fixed bayonets, when the militia immediately fled. On the 20th the fleet reached Portsmouth, which Arnold proceeded to fortify, in order to establish it as a permanent post.
        We need not follow the account further, the details of which are familiar to the readers of Revolutionary history. Gov. Jefferson wrote, on the 10th of January, to the President of Congress, -
"Baron Steuben has descended from the dignity of his proper command to direct our smallest movements. His vigilance has in a great measure supplied the want of force, in preventing the enemy from crossing the river, the consequence of which might have been very fatal. He has been assiduously employed in preparing equipments for the militia, as they assembled, pointing them to a proper object, and in other offices of a good commander."

        The action of Steuben in the defense of Petersburg was gallant and courageous. This was on the 24th of April, 1780. Arnold, at Portsmouth, had baffled all attempts to dislodge or capture him on the part of a large force of infantry under Lafayette and a French fleet sent from Newport under command of Destouches, and had been reinforced by Gen. Phillips, with two thousand English troops. The combined forces, amounting to two thousand five hundred men, under the command of Gen. Phillips, sailed up the James River on the 18th, with the view of attacking Petersburg and Richmond. Simcoe, with a small party, entered Williamsburg, and destroyed some stores. The main body, on the 24th, landed at the confluence of the Appomattox and James Rivers, and marched up the banks of the former towards Petersburg.
        Baron Steuben was there with one thousand militia, to defend the city against two thousand three hundred regular troops; but his measures were so well taken that he was able to dispute the ground more than two hours, during which time the enemy gained but one mile. Their lines were twice broken before their superiority of numbers compelled the brave baron to retreat and assume a new position about twelve miles up the river. The loss was equal, amounting to sixty killed and wounded on each side.
        Lafayette, by forced marches, had arrived at Richmond in time to prevent an attack on that city. The British burned the tobacco and warehouses in Petersburg and vicinity. By the 1st of May Lafayette and Steuben had collected such a considerable force that Phillips dared not cross to the north side of the river, and soon abandoned the campaign and returned again to Portsmouth.
        When Cornwallis entered the State of Viginia Steuben had charge of the State arsenal at the Point of Fork, on the James River, above Richmond, and of the military stores which had been collected there. The post was guarded by Steuben with six hundred newly-levied troops. Cornwallis, learning his situation, detached Simcoe against him with five hundred regulars. Tarleton, with two hundred and fifty horse, was also ordered to proceed to Charlotteville, and thence to join Simcoe at the Point of Fork. This double movement rendered Steuben's situation very perilous. It was useless to attempt to defend the place against such odds, and even the utmost dispatch could hardly promise a successful retreat. Still the baron set to

*There was here an armory during the Revolution.


work with his accustomed energy. He transported the stores to the south side of the river with such celerity that when Simcoe appeared on the 3d of June, only thirty of the rear-guard remained, who were captured. The river was deep and unfordable, and as Steuben had taken the precaution to secure all the boats, the main object of the British was defeated.
        The autumn of this year was signalized by the march of the combined French and American armies to Virginia, and the measures which led to the capitulation of Cornwallis on the 18th of October. In the operations before Yorktown Baron Steuben had a full and honorable share. Washington respected his indefatigable exertions, and soothed him under the disappointments he had suffered by conferring upon him a command in the regular line. It was during the baron's tour of duty in the trenches that the negotiation for surrender commenced. At the relieving hour next morning, Lafayette approached with his division. The baron refused to be relieved, assigning as a reason the etiquette in Europe, where the officer who received the overtures remains on his post till the capitulation is signed or broken. The marquis applied to the commander-in-chief, but Steuben with his troops remained in the trenches till the British flag was struck. He returned with the main army to the North, and continued at headquarters till the close of the war, occupied in the discharge of his duties as inspector-general.
        On the day that Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief, he wrote to Steuben the following letter:

ANNAPOLIS, 23d December, 1782.

        "Although I have taken frequent opportunities, in public and in private, of acknowleding your great zeal, attention, and abilities in performing the duties of your office, yet I wish to make use of this last moment of my public life to signify, in the strongest terms, my entire approbation of your conduct, and to express my sense of the obligations the public is under to you for your faithful and meritorious services.
        "I beg you will be convinced, my dear sir, that I should rejoice if it should ever be in my power to serve you more essentially than by expressions of regard and affection; but, in the mean time, I am persuaded you will not be displeased with this farewell token of my sincere friendship and esteem for you.
        "This is the last letter I shall write while I continue in the service of my country. The hour of my resignation is fixed at twelve to-day, after which I shall become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, where I shall be glad to embrace you, and testify the esteem and consideration with which
                                "I am, my dear Baron, etc.,
                                                                    "GEORGE WASHINGTON."


        Gen. Lincoln having resigned his place at the head of the war department, Baron Steuben and Gen. Knox were the prominent candidates for the office of secretary of war. The objection to the former, and it proved to be a decisive one, rested on the fact that he was a foreigner. Of his qualifications for the office there can be no reasonable doubt. In March, 1784, he submitted to Washington a plan for establishing a Continental legion, and training the militia in time of peace, which the latter returned with his entire approval.
        For seven years after the close of the war Baron Steuben was occupied in ineffectual attempts to obtain from Congress the promised recompense for his services. Congress never expressly denied the justice of his claim, but the poverty of the country at first induced delay, and in succeeding sessions the matter was crowded out by a multiplicity of other duties and responsibilities. He at last collected a number of papers and documents bearing upon his claim, and submitted his statements and accompanying proofss to Mr. Jay, Mr. Livingston, Col. Hamilton, and others, all of whom declared the evidence satisfactory and the demand just. It was not until after the settlement of the Federal Constitution that the urgent recommendation of the President and the exertions of Hamilton procured for him tardy and imperfect justice. On the 4th of June, 1790, Congress passed an act granting to the veteran a life-annuity of two thousand five hundred dollars. Individual States had already shown their sense of his ill-requited services by complimentary resolutions and gifts of land. Virginia and New Jersey had each given him a small tract, and the Assembly of New York, by a vote dated May 5, 1786, made over to him one-quarter of a township, equal to sixteen thousand acres, out of the territory recently purchased of the Oneida Indians. The site selected was in the immediate vicinity of Utica, where he caused a log house to be erected as the home of his declining years. This was his baronial estate and castle, in the midst of a wilderness stretching far away in unbroken solitude on every hand. He had no kindred in this country, and his family consisted only of dependents and friends, whom his various acts of kindness had caused to cling to him with all the affection of children for an aged parent. He distributed nearly a tenth part of the tract to his aides and servants, and the rest of the land was let on easy terms to twenty or thirty tenants. About sixty acres were cleared in front of the house, and afforded him wheat and nourishment for a small stock of cattle.
        As the surrounding country was but thinly settled, the want of society led him to pass a portion of each winter in the city of New York. He was never perfectly a master of the English language, though he made few mistakes in speaking, except as a matter of jest. Once, when dining with the commander-in-chief, Mrs. Washington asked him what amusements he had now that the business of his office was less pressing. "I read and play chess, my lady," said the baron, "and yesterday I was invited to go a-fishing. It was understood to be a very fine amusement. I sat in the boat two hours, though it was very warm, and caught two fish."
        "Of what kind, baron?" asked the lady.
        "Indeed, I don not recollect perfectly, but one of them was a whale."
        "A whale, baron, in the North River!"
        "Yes, on my word, a very fine whale, as that gentleman informed me," said the baron, turning to the gentleman who had been his companion in fishing. "Did you not tell me it was a whale, major?"
        "An eel, baron," replied the major, courteously.
        "I beg your pardon, my lady," returned the baron; "but the gentleman certainly called it a whale. It is how-


ever, of little consequence. I shall abandon the trade, notwithstanding the fine amusement it affords."
        At his house, near Utica, the baron had little society, except from the passing visit of a stranger or friend. A young man named Mulligan, whose literary powers and destitute situation, when a boy, had attracted his notice, resided with him, and read to him in his solitary hours. His favorite aides-de-camp, Walker and North, also spent much time at his house, and their affectionate attention continued to cheer him till the close of life. His farm and garden afforded him some pastime, but it was chiefly from a well-stored library that he derived relief from the weariness of a situation that harmonized ill with the active duties of his former life. The comforts of religion and the perusal of the Scriptures prepared him to meet his end with composure and humble trust.
        Though the sedentary life he followed was unfavorable to his health, no failure of mind or body was apparent till November, 1794. On the 25th of that month, he returned in the evening to his chamber in his usual health, but was shortly after struck with paralysis, and partly deprived of speech. The nearest physician was called, though the case was immediately seen to be hopeless. He died on the 28th.
        Agreeably to former directions, his body was wrapped in a military cloak, ornamented with the star he had always worn, and interred in the neighboring forest. A few neighbors, his servants, and the young man, his late companion, followed his remains to the grave. A public highway was laid out some years afterwards, which passed directly over the hallowed spot. Walker caused his body to be removed to a little distance, where a monument was erected, and inclosed with an iron paling. He also gave an adjoining lot as a site for a church, on condition that its members and their sucessors should preserve the remains from any further violation.
        Col. North caused a tablet, with the following inscription, to be placed in the Lutheran church in Nassau Street, New York, where the baron used to worship when residing in that city:

Sacred to the Memory of
A German knight of the Order of Fidelity,
Aide-de-camp to Frederic the Great, King of Prussia,
Major-General and Inspector-General
In the Revolutionary War.
Esteemed, respected, and supported by Washington,
He gave Military Skill and Discipline
To the Citizen Soldiers, who
(Fulfilling the Decrees of Heaven)
Achieved the Independence of the United States.
The highly-polished Manners of the Baron were graced
By the most noble Feelings of the Heart:
His Hand, open as Day to melting Charity,
Closed only in the Grasp of Death.

This Memorial is inscribed by an American,
Who had Honor to be his Aide-de-Camp,
The Happiness to be his Friend.
Ob. 1795. *

*Jared Sparks, in his biography of Steuben, decides that this date is an error, and gives, as we have given it elsewhere, Nov. 28, 1794.