The winter encampment at Valley Forge was an extremely important period in the development of the Continental Army. Despite numerous problems, for the first time in the war the Army enjoyed a winter free from the need to recruit and reorganize most of the regiments. Congress and military leaders used this time to review the campaign of 1777 and to debate reforms to improve the Army's battlefield performance. One group advocated a return to two centuries of Anglo-American experience; a second sought inspiration from European, particularly French, professional soldiers and military theory. Over the next year and a half parts of each group's program were adopted, but a preponderance of reforms came from new European ideas. This period witnessed the gradual transformation of the Continental Army into a professional fighting force.
When in September 1776 Congress approved raising an army to serve for the duration of the war, it broke with the militia tradition without serious debate because the military commanders insisted that such a force was necessary to win victory. Three months later the delegates approved a larger force for the same reason. On the other hand, Congress expected such a permanent army to win victories. The Main Army did not do so in 1777, but Gates' army won a smashing victory with the assistance of large militia forces. Policy debates during the winter of 1777-78 over a number of related issues revealed two basic interpretations of the lessons of the 1777 campaign. Some delegates, supported by one contingent of army leaders, pressed for a return to the ideals of 1776. They cited Saratoga as proof that their program, which put less reliance on a large standing army, would produce results. Washington, most of the senior officers, and other delegates felt that the transformation of 1777 was correct, and they sought to improve on it. The central issues debated during the winter related to the overall direction of military affairs, the professionalization of the officer corps, and the size of the army. Neither faction won complete endorsement for its position, and tensions ran high.1
The first question concerned the Board of War. The original board, a standing committee of Congress, simply could not keep pace with the volume of work, and as early as April 1777 it had recommended its own replacement by a permanent administrative body. On 17 October 1777 the delegates approved a plan that called for a
1. Information on the general political and ideological context is contained in Henderson, Party Politics, pp. 54, 102-5, 118-24; White, "Standing Armies," pp. 199-201, 207, 224-61, 277-78.
Board of War consisting of three permanent members plus a clerical staff. Congress also expanded its duties. In addition to the administrative functions of its predecessor, the new board's responsibilities included supervising recruitment, managing prisoners, and producing weapons. It was to act as Congress' sole official intermediary in dealing with the Army and the states on military affairs. On 7 November Quartermaster General Thomas Mifflin, Adjutant General Timothy Pickering, and Robert Hanson Harrison, Washington's military secretary, were elected as members, although Harrison promptly declined.2
Mifflin was the first to report, and he immediately took an active role. The fact that reorganizing the Quartermaster's Department was one of the Board of War's first tasks contributed substantially to Mifflin's early influence. He persuaded Congress to expand the board to five members, which it did on 24 November, and recommended Richard Peters (the permanent secretary of the old board) and Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates for the new vacancies. Congress appointed both men and named former Commissary General Joseph Trumbull to replace Harrison. At Mifflin's suggestion, Gates was named president of the board. He retained both his rank and his right to field command. These five men brought with them the staff expertise that Congress wanted the board to have, but none were members of Washington's inner circle.3
When Gates arrived at York, Pennsylvania, in January to take up his new duties, the memory of his victory at Saratoga remained with various delegates and Army officers.4 He also knew that Congress had initiated investigations into the loss of forts in the Highlands and along the Delaware River and had openly criticized Washington for his failure to confiscate supplies in Pennsylvania to keep them out of enemy hands.5 Prodded by some delegates, Mifflin, and a handful of disgruntled officers, Gates began trying to convert the Board of War into an agency with control of military operations.
In October 1777 Col. Moses Hazen had suggested to Gates that a small force could capitalize on the Saratoga victory by attacking Montreal that winter when ice would neutralize British warships on Lake Champlain; a larger force could then complete the conquest of Canada in the spring. Brig. Gen. John Stark independently convinced Congress to authorize a small raid by militia volunteers on the Lake Champlain naval base at St. John's. Gates, working through the Board of War, persuaded Congress in January to authorize an "irruption" into Canada along the lines suggested by Hazen, and to place the board in complete control of the operation. At Gates' suggestion, Congress named the Marquis de Lafayette, who had been commissioned a major general in July, to command the expedition, assisted by Maj. Gen. Thomas Conway, General Stark, and Colonel Hazen.6
Conway, an Irish veteran of the French Army, became known as a critic of Washington during the late fall. On 13 December Congress had promoted him, over a number of more senior brigadier generals, to major general and had named him an
2. JCC, 7:241-42; 8:474n, 563; 9:809-11, 818-20,
874, 936, 971; Burnett, Letters, 2:52.
3. JCC, 9:941, 959-63, 971-72; Burnett, Letters, 2:574-76; Pennsylvania Archives, 1st ser., 6:35.
4. Gates Papers (James Lovell to Gates, 5 Oct and 27 Nov 77; Joseph Reed to Gates, 30 Oct 77; James Wilkinson to Gates, 4 Nov 77; Eliphalet Dyer to Gates, 5 Nov 77; Thomas Conway to Gates, 11 Nov 77; Mifflin to Gates, 17 and 27 Nov 77).
5. JCC, 9:972, 975-76, 1013-15.
6. Gates Papers (Hazen to Gates, 26 Oct 77; James Duane to Gates, 16 Dec 77; Gates to Col John Greaton, 28 Dec 77); JCC, 9:999-1001; 10:84-85, 87; Burnett, Letters, 3:124-30; Stanley J. Idzerda et al., eds., Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977- ), 1:xxiv-xxvi, 169-72, 204-7, 213-18, 245-385.
MARIE-PAUL-JOSEPH-ROCH-YVES-GILBERT DU MOTHER, MARQUIS DE LAFAYETTE (1757-1834) was only a supernumerary cavalry captain in the French Army when he came to America as a volunteer in 1777. He demonstrated exceptional leadership as a youthful Continental Army major general. (Portrait by Charles Willson Peale, 1781.)
Inspector General. Conway planned to turn his new office into the field agency of the president of the Board of War, but Washington effectively froze him out of any role within the Main Army.7 Gates selected Lafayette in effect to be a French figurehead for the Canadian invasion; he expected that Conway would be the de facto commander. Lafayette, however, refused to participate in any activity that might undermine Washington's authority as Commander in Chief; he insisted that Conway be removed and that orders from Congress concerning the expedition pass through Washington rather than through the board. He threatened to return to France if his demands were not met. This strong support for Washington had the desired effect, and Congress canceled the invasion on 2 March.8
The termination of the Canadian "irruption" and a related congressional airing and dismissal of Conway's criticisms of Washington ended the challenge to Washington's leadership of the Army. Conway submitted his resignation in a ploy to bolster his status, but Congress quickly accepted it. Gates, realizing that he lacked both the Commander in Chief's support and the strength to unseat him, abandoned the presidency of the board and returned to his field command in the north. When Mifflin was pressured into resigning on 17 August 1778, the Board of War reverted to a purely administrative role. These decisions solidified Washington's authority as the single voice of the Army on matters of policy.9
7. Fitzpatrick. Writings, 9:387-90; 10:39, 226-28,
236-37; JCC, 9:1026; Gates Papers (Conway to Gates, 1 Nov 77 and
4 Jan 78).
8. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:113-14; JCC, 10:107, 216-17, 253-54; Burnett, Letters, 3:63-65; McDougall Papers (Greene to McDougall, 5 Feb 78).
9. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 10:236-37, 410-11; 11:493-94; 14:383-86; JCC, 10:399; 11:520, 802; Burnett' Letters, 3:20-25, 2~31, 39-40, 42, 48, 141-42, 209-11, 487-89; Gates Papers (Mifflin to Gates, 28 Nov 77; Gates to Washington, 8 Dec 77, 23 Jan and 17 Feb 78; to congress, it Dec 77; Walter Stewart to Gates, 12 Feb 78; Pickering to Gates, 26 Aug 78); McDougall, Papers (Greene to McDougall, 25 Jan and 16 Apr 78; Varnum to McDougall, 7 Feb 78; McDougall to Greene, 14 Feb 78); S. Weir Mitchell, ed., "Historical Notes of Dr. Benjamin Rush, 1777," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 27 (1903):147; John Laurens, The Army Correspondence of Colonel John Laurens in the Years 1777-78 (New York: Bradford Club, 1867), pp. 80-88, 98-101.
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE OF BENEDICT ARNOLD. On 3 February 1778 Congress required all members of the Continental Army to sign an oath acknowledging support of national independence. This was an effort to weed Loyalist sympathizers out of the military. Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold's oath was witnessed on 30 May 1778 by Brig. Gen. Henry Knox at the Artillery Park at Valley Forge.
Washington asserted his restored position by answering congressional objections to improving the professional conditions of the officer corps. During the winter of 1777-78 a large number of officers were leaving the Continental Army because they could no longer afford the financial losses connected with service. An officer who wished to leave the British Army could sell his commission (under government supervision) and use the proceeds as retirement income; officers involuntarily retired in Army reductions drew half pay. Washington and his senior advisers believed that similar programs were needed in the Continental Army if it was to attract able officers in a time of inflation and other economic problems. Members of Congress with ideological objections to standing armies, however, strenuously opposed such measures as half pay, which they felt would create "a set of haughty idle imperious Scandalizers of industrious Citizens and Farmers."10
On 10 January 1778 Congress decided to send a Committee of Conference to Valley Forge to discuss matters relating to efficiency and economy in the Army, including the question of officers' compensation. The committee's proponents wanted it to con-
10. Burnett, Letters, 3:31-33; see also 2:585-86; 3:34, 153-56; McDougall Papers (Greene to McDougall, 25 Jan 78); Albigence Waldo, "Valley Forge, 1777-78. Diary of Surgeon Albigence Waldo, of the Connecticut Line," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 21 (1897):314. Henderson, Party Politics, pp. 102-4, 120-24; White, "Standing Armies," pp. 277-78.
sist of three members of the Board of War and three delegates, but when the political tide turned against the board, the committee drew its membership exclusively from delegates. Under the leadership of Francis Dana and Gouverneur Morris, the committee held extensive discussions with Washington and his advisers between 28 January and 12 March and in effect filled the policy-setting role that Gates and Mifflin had planned for the Board of War. The committee's reports and recommendations to Congress largely echoed Washington's position and formed the basis for numerous reforms enacted during the winter and spring. On 1 April Congress rejected the committee's endorsement of half pay and peacetime sale of commissions, but it then spent six weeks attempting to find an alternative. Washington lobbied hard in support of the committee, arguing that the Army's sufferings at Valley Forge proved its loyalty to the civilian government. He won support for a compromise on 15 May. Officers serving to the end of the war were promised seven years of half pay; enlisted men, a lump-sum payment of eighty dollars.11
The committee at camp had a second major objective: reconciling the large size of the Army approved in the 1776 resolves with the manpower realities of the 1777 campaign. Most regiments had started that campaign below full strength, and losses had forced Washington to issue muskets to sergeants and junior officers to augment the fire of the rank and file. In contrast to the shortages of enlisted men, there were nearly full complements of officers in most regiments. Washington's suggested solution was the institution of a civilian recruiting system and a limited draft. Congress lacked the legal power to enforce such systems, but it did recommend them to the individual states. The delegates, convinced now that 110 regiments could not be filled, directed the committee at camp to look for ways to reduce quotas to realistic levels, consolidate units, and eliminate surplus officers.12
By the beginning of February 1778, when the committee at camp was well into its work, most of the continentals were with the Main Army. Every state except Georgia and South Carolina had sent units to Washington. The 1st Continental Artillery remained in its home state of Virginia, and the equivalent of three brigades were in the Highlands or in the Northern Department. All remaining Continental units, a force that should have numbered over 60,000 men, were at Valley Forge or its outposts. Washington had 15 brigades directly under his command at Valley Forge plus 2 others that were wintering at Wilmington, Delaware. Portions of 3 artillery regiments also were at Valley Forge, and the 4 light dragoon regiments were occupying Trenton. The infantrymen of the 15 brigades included 64 field, 720 company, and 206 staff officers; 931 sergeants; 642 drummers and fifers; and 17,491 rank and file. Only 7,600 rank and file were completely fit for duty, and a third of those were detached for various purposes. Almost 5,000 were sick, 1,100 were on furlough, and 3,700 healthy men lacked either shoes or clothes and could not participate in combat. The artillery contingent contained 117 officers and 810 men; the cavalry, 70 officers and 438 mends
11. JCC, 10:39-41, 67, 285-86, 300-301; 11:502-3;
Burnett, Letters, 3:61-115, 123-24, 131, 160-63, 212-13, 219-21,
244-45, 255-56; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:285-86, 290-92, 415; Max
M. Mintz, Gouverneur Morris and the American Revolution (Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1970), pp. 91-101.
12. JCC, 8:593-95, 670; 9:930; 10:39-40; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 8:440; 9:365-67, 406-7; 10:125-26, 153, 195, 197-98, 205, 221-25; 11:236-40; "Plan for a Re-Organization of the Continental Army," Historical Magazine, 2d ser., 3 (1868):270-73.
13. RG 93, National Archives (General Return, Main Army, 9 Feb 78).
The committee thus found a Main Army with only about a third of its authorized strength.
The committee members held extensive discussions with Washington and his senior advisers before reporting back to Congress. The press of other business prevented that body from implementing substantive reforms before the 1778 campaign started, although on 26 February it recommended, as an interim measure, that the states institute a recruiting program that included using nine-month drafts to fill the quotas. In a sense this decision marked a temporary retreat from the ideal of an Army composed exclusively of long-service soldiers. Congress also reduced Rhode Island's quota for the campaign to the equivalent of a single full regiment and Pennsylvania's to ten regiments.14
Comprehensive legislation came in May and involved a revision of the basic tables of organization for the various types of regiments. This resolve of 27 May 1778 reduced the number of regiments and especially the number of officers in each regiment, and made several other changes.15 Perhaps the most basic of these reforms concerned the infantry regiment. After rejecting a radically different organizational model suggested by Maj. Gen. Charles Lee, Congress adopted a structure which moved toward the British regimental model.16 (Chart 8) Each regiment gained a ninth company as a permanent light infantry company, but the total number of regimental officers declined from 40 to 29 and enlisted strength fell from 692 to 553. Through attrition each regiment was to eliminate its colonel and operate with only two field officers. This change would simplify prisoner of war exchanges since the British colonel was not a combat officer. Another major area of reduction was the staff, where the adjutant, quartermaster, and paymaster ceased to be separate positions. Subalterns from line companies assumed the duties of the first two offices as additional tasks, while one of the captains, elected by the unit's officers, became paymaster as well. All three received extra compensation.
Within each company one lieutenant's position disappeared, and several captains lost their positions as the field officers assumed command of companies. If a regiment still had a colonel, the senior lieutenant, as captain-lieutenant, exercised practical control over his company. Each company also lost a sergeant and a corporal from the organization approved in 1776. Privates were cut by a third, from 76 to 53. The rank and file strength, the true power of the company, fell from 80 to 56. If a regiment retained its light company, it now deployed for combat with a bayonet strength of 504 out of a total of 582. This 87 percent figure was roughly the same as in the previous structure. Normally, however, the light company was detached, and the bayonet strength then dropped to 448, roughly on a par with a British regiment.
Congress had created a regiment which would cost less than the 1776 regiment, but it was only 70 percent as strong. Its combat efficiency was even lower since 2 or 3 of the companies had only 2 officers, and the reduced staff no longer furnished a pool of spare officers to replace casualties during the heat of combat. Except for the addition
14. JCC, 10:199-203.
15. Ibid., 11:538-43, 570, 633-34; 12:1154-60; Burnett, Letters, 3:264-66, 407, 431-32; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:475-76; 12:30-35, 60-62, 274-75; Idzerda, Lafayette, 1:284-85.
16. Lee, Papers, 2:382-89; JCC, 11:514-15. Lee's plan was based on the "legion" advocated by Marshal Maurice de Saxe. An earlier version of the plan is contained in Webb, Correspondence and Journals, 1:84-87.
of the permanent light infantry company, the new regiment on paper was inferior to the old one as a battlefield force. Congress viewed these changes as important from a financial point of view, and also as acceptable compromises with the realities of recruiting revealed in 1777. Washington knew that the demonstrated lack of state support for a large army had negated the paper advantages of the 1776 regiment, and he grudgingly accepted the loss of tactical control, although he remained upset by Congress' insistence on using line officers to perform staff duties outside the regiment.
The artillery regiment underwent less change. It gained a third second lieutenant for each company, but lost staff officers in a change that paralleled the change in the infantry regiment's staff. Similar staff reductions took place in the light dragoon regiment. (Chart 9) Unlike the infantry regiment, the cavalry regiment expanded. Each troop gained 1 second lieutenant, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal, and 22 privates. On the other hand, the 4 regimental supernumeraries and the troop armorer were eliminated. The troop was now nearly double its 1777 size, with 4 officers and 64 enlisted men. The new regimental structure required 29 officers and 386 men. In Congress' eyes this increase in the ratio of enlisted men to officers gave the mounted arm a more economical organization.
Congress waited for a lull in the 1778 campaign to carry out the conversion to the new regimental organizations, but its decisions, culminating in the 27 May resolution, had modified many of the concepts embodied in the previous winter's decisions. To a certain extent its actions had simply acknowledged the practical impossibility of raising the large, long-term army that Washington had wanted. They also reflected some delegates' continuing deep-seated suspicion of a standing army. The contrast between Gates' success at Saratoga and Washington's loss of Philadelphia was still fresh in their minds. They believed that Gates' success derived from his use of a small Conti-
CHART 9—LIGHT DRAGOON REGIMENT 27 MAY 1778
nental cadre combined with a large militia force called out in response to the emergency. The reconstitution of the Board of War almost certainly had stemmed from the belief that his example could be followed. Washington stood off the board's challenge to his leadership, but Congress did not accept his views on a number of issues important to his concept of a professional army. Although Congress followed his suggestion in recommending that the states institute a civilian recruiting system and a limited draft, for example, it also ordered cuts in the number of infantry units and in their size.
The revised regimental structure adopted by Congress represented a movement toward the British model, but during the winter at Valley Forge, Washington decided to adopt certain characteristics of European military organization as well. He based his decisions not just on his reading of various military handbooks and his personal experience but also on the expert advice of a number of foreign volunteers who had joined the Army during 1777. The Continental Army's engineer corps was the first to feel this impact, followed by the mounted arm. The creation of various specialized units also reflected Washington's openness to new ideas.
Tradition in Europe allowed officers to serve in the armies of other nations to win glory, gain promotions, and taste adventure. In 1776 a number of individuals who
LOUIS LE BEGUE DE PRESLE DUPORTAIL (1743-1802) was a skilled French engineer "loaned" to the Continental Army. Ne reached the rank of major general after Yorktown and is regarded as the father of the Corps of Engineers. In 1791 when France adopted the tactical reforms proposed by Guibert, Duportail was serving as minister of war. (Portrait by Charles Willson Peale, ca. 1782.)
came to America for these reasons claimed to have technical expertise in the artillery and engineer branches. Unfortunately, many were frauds who demanded high rank. Congress' hope that Frenchmen could successfully recruit in Canada, and Germans in the German-American community, proved groundless. Since most were not fluent in English, they could not be assigned to line units. Frederick de Woedtke, a former Prussian officer, and Matthias-Alexis, Chevalier de La Rochefermoy, who both served in 1776 as brigadier generals in the Northern Department, were conspicuous failures.17
Silas Deane's diplomatic mission to France in the summer of 1776 included hiring skilled professional soldiers as well as soliciting material assistance. On the advice of Pierre Caron de Beaumarchais and Jean Baptiste de Gribeauval (the leading artillery expert of the century), Deane contracted with one of the latter's proteges, Philip Tronson du Coudray, to organize and lead a group of volunteers to America. Coudray, despite extravagant claims, was actually a military theorist whose rank was equivalent to that of an artillery major. Deane granted him a generous contract and the title of General of Artillery and Ordnance (with the rank of major general). The contract promised him a virtually free hand in artillery and engineer operations. His group arrived in America in the late spring of 1777. Congress commissioned two members, Thomas Conway and Philippe-Hubert, Chevalier de Preudhomme de Borre, brigadier generals; it commissioned Coudray as Inspector General of Ordnance and Military Manufactories. His accidental death on 15 September ended a controversy over rank that had erupted among American generals.18
17. Idzerda, Lafayette, 1:68-87. Chevalier Dubuisson des Hayes, an
aide to Maj. Gen. Johannes de Kalb, described the first volunteers as "officers
who are deeply in debt," and added that some of them have been discharged
from their units in Europe. He charged that the governors of the French
West Indies had sent them to America with deliberately inflated credentials
in order to be rid of them.
18. Force, American Archives, 5th ser., 1:1011-23; 2:283-85; Jonathan R. Dull, The French Navy and American Independence: A Study of Arms and Diplomacy, 1774-1789 (Princeton: Princeton university Press, 1975), pp. 30-49. Lafayette described Coudray as "a clever but imprudent man, a good officer but vain to the point of folly", Idzerda, Lafayette, 1:11.
THADDEUS KOSCIUSZKO (1746-1817), a Pole trained as a military engineer in France, came to America in 1776 as a volunteer and became one of the most trusted members of the Corps of Engineers. He later led an unsuccessful revolution in his native land. (Portrait by Julian Rys, 1897.)
A second group of technical experts came to America through the efforts of the French Minister of War, the Comte de Saint-Germain. He formally "loaned" four military engineers to the Continental Army. In contrast to previous volunteers, these men were given contracts that called for promotions to a grade only one step higher than their French commissions, and Saint-Germain had carefully picked them for their skills. Their leader, Louis le Begue de Presle Duportail, was commissioned a colonel on 8 July 1777, and shortly thereafter he was given command over all engineers in the Army. He and his colleagues quickly unmasked Coudray's claims to technical training as an engineer. Duportail's obvious expertise and cooperative attitude led to his promotion on 17 November to brigadier general, a status equivalent to that of General Knox.19
A third contingent from France reached America in 1777. Led by the Marquis de Lafayette, Gilbert du Motier, and the Bavarian-born Johannes de Kalb, they were talented proteges of the Comte de Broglie, one of France's top military commanders. Although Lafayette's military experience was limited, his powerful political connections in the French Court led Deane to offer him a major general's commission. De Kalb, an experienced officer in the French Army, received a similar offer. Deane promised them assignments in the infantry rather than in the technical services. By the time the group reached Philadelphia, however, the failure of some of the first volunteers and the controversy surrounding Coudray led to a cold reception by Congress and the Army. But Lafayette's enthusiasm, their offer to serve as unpaid volunteers, and their demonstrated competence eventually earned most of these Frenchmen commissions.20
19. Elizabeth S. Kite, Brigadier-General Louis Lebegue
Duportail, Commandant of Engineers in the Continental Army. 1777-1783 (Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins Press, for the Institut Francais de Washington, 1933), pp.
20. Idzerda, Lafayette, pp. xxiv-xxvi, 7-12, 17-18, 33-36, 53-56, 68-87, 145-50. Lafayette (1757-1834) held the rank in France of a cavalry captain in a reserve status, but as Kalb later commented, he was a gifted natural soldier.
The most immediate impact of foreign volunteers came in military engineering. There was no training available in America that could match that offered to British engineers at Woolwich, let alone that available in France where the science of military engineering was being perfected. Of the first foreign volunteers commissioned as engineers, only a young Polish captain, Andrew Thaddeus Kosciuszko, who had been trained in France, was qualified by European standards. Congress commissioned him a colonel of engineers on 18 October 1776.21 Washington then included a request for an organized corps of engineers in his plans for 1777, and Congress authorized him to form such a body on 27 December 1776. The shortage of proficient engineers, however, prevented any action. Col. Rufus Putnam chose to return to infantry duty in 1777, and a more cautious Congress halted the commissioning of untested volunteers. This decision left only Col. Jeduthan Baldwin, Kosciuszko, and a number of detailed infantry and artillery officers until Duportail's group arrived at Philadelphia.22 With Duportail's emergence as a trusted expert, for the first time the Army now could judge Europeans solely on professional merit. He secured the services of experienced men such as Jean de Murnan, whose career in the French Army had been blocked by Court intrigue.23
One of the first contributions of the engineers was a bridging train. On the night of 11-12 December 1777 they constructed two bridges over the Schuylkill River at Swede's Ford. One consisted of a roadbed laid across floating rafts; the other, of thirty-six wagons placed in the shallow water of the ford with rails across them. The engineers later constructed more sophisticated flat-bottomed pontons with special wheeled carriages at Albany, and in 1781 these pontons accompanied the troops to Yorktown.24
A second major involvement was in the construction of permanent fortifications. After the defeats of 1777, Washington funneled available resources to the field army. He refortified only the Hudson Highlands to make the area the strategic pivot for the Main Army. From the winter of 1777-78 until the end of the war a large portion of the engineer corps worked on the fortress at West Point. Instead of a single large fort, which could be lost in one stroke, Duportail's engineers erected a modern complex of smaller, mutually supporting works for in depth defense.25
At Valley Forge Duportail proposed to supplement the engineer officers with companies of combat engineers. Following European custom, he called them companies of sappers and miners. Sappers dug the entrenchments (saps) for a formal siege; miners constructed underground tunnels. These companies could execute small projects or supervise infantry details in more extensive undertakings. Washington particularly
21. JCC, 5:565, 614-15, 656; 6:888; Miecislaus
Haiman, Kosciuszko in the American Revolution (New York: Polish
Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, 1943), pp. 1-11.
22. Force, American Archives, 5th ser., 2:549-50, 892-93; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 6:160-61; 7:102-6; 8:380-82; Baldwin, Revolutionary Journal, pp. 102-3; JCC, 8:380. Congress commissioned the Marquis de Fleury as a captain on 2 May 1777, but his was the only new engineer appointment made in the first half of 1777.
23. Burnett, Letters, 2:417-21; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 10:35; JCC, 8:571; 9:932; 13:57-58; Kite, Duportail, pp. 50-52. Duportail is considered the father of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
24. Amos Perry, ed., "Dr. Albigence Waldo, Surgeon in the Continental Army," Historical Magazine 5 (1861):131; Enos Reeves, "Extracts From the Letter-Books of Lieutenant Enos Reeves, of the Pennsylvania Line," ed. John B. Reeves, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 20 (1896):458-59; James Duncan, "Captain James Duncan's Diary of the Siege of Yorktown," ed. W.F. Boogher, Magazine of History 2 (1905):408.
25. Kite, Duportail, pp. 47-50, 60-72; Haiman, Kosciuszko, pp. 43-47; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:297-98.
liked Duportail's plan to train their officers as apprentice engineers, thus ensuring for the first time a steady supply of native-born engineers. Congress approved the formation of three companies on 27 May 1778, but the Army moved slowly. Washington appointed officers on 2 August 1779, after Duportail had personally interviewed the candidates, and Washington transferred carefully selected enlisted men from infantry regiments a year later. Each company was authorized a captain, 3 lieutenants, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, and 60 privates.26
Congress took the final step to regularize the engineers on 11 March 1779. In response to Washington's continuing pressure, it resolved "that the engineers in the service of the United States shall be formed into a corps, styled the 'corps of engineers,' and shall take rank and enjoy the same rights, honours, and privileges, with the other troops on continental establishment."27 This legislation gave the engineers the status of a branch of the Continental Army. They received the same pay and prerogatives as artillerymen to prevent any jealousy between the technical branches. As commandant, Duportail supervised the engineer officers and the companies of sappers and miners, functioned as a special adviser to the Commander in Chief, and assigned individual officers to specific posts before the start of each campaign.28
France provided a precedent for a separate topographical section. Following the Seven Years' War, France had begun rigorously training a small corps of topographical engineers, the Ingenieurs Geographes (distinct from the Corps Royal du Genie). They prepared a systematic map reference library for planning operations.29 As a former surveyor, Washington particularly understood the value of accurate maps. On 19 July 1777 he asked for a topographical staff; six days later Congress told him to appoint a "geographer and surveyor of the roads, to take sketches of the country, the seat of war," as well as necessary subordinates. Robert Erskine accepted the job but did not report to headquarters until June 1778.
Erskine, a Scot who had migrated to New Jersey in 1771, was a civil engineer and inventor. Until he died of pneumonia on 2 October 1780, Erskine coordinated up to six survey teams from his home at Ringwood Forge near West Point. He and his successors transformed the collected raw data into a comprehensive survey of the zone of operations of the Main Army. The resulting maps equaled those of the French in accuracy and were vastly superior to anything available to British commanders.30
On 15 September 1777 Congress answered Washington's long-standing request for a cavalry commander on a par with Knox. He had been hoping to find another for-
26. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 10:433; 11:239; 12:40,
241, 311; 14:235; 15:103, 491-92; 16:36; 17:443-45; 19:224; JCC, 11:541-42;
16:133; Joseph Plumb Martin, Private Yankee Doodle: Being a Narrative
of Some of the Adventures, Dangers, and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier,
ed. George F. Scheer (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1962), pp. 194-96.
The British Royal Military Artificers were not formed until 1787.
27. JCC, 13:305-6.
28. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 12:376-77; 14:160-61; 16:21-23, 37, 46-48; JCC, 14:570-71; Kite, Duportail, pp. 125-31
29. J. B. Hawley, Barbara Bartz Petchenik, and Lawrence W. Tower, eds., Mapping the American Revolutionary War (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), pp. 32-36, 68-75; Howard C. Rice, Jr., and Anne S. K. Brown, eds., The American Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army: 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783, 2 vols. (Princeton and Providence: Princeton and Brown University Presses, 1972), 1:191-219; 2:3-5, 111-20.
30. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 7:65; 8:372, 443, 495-96; 11:246; 12:21; 14:182-83; 23:68-69; JCC, 8:580; 18:1118; 20:475-76, 738. The maps are in the Erskine-DeWitt Collection, New-York Historical Society. British Headquarters Maps are in the Henry Clinton Papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan; photostatic copies are available at the New-York Historical Society. Simeon DeWitt succeeded Erskine in the north, as Thomas Hutchings did in the south.
CASIMIR PULASKI (ca. 1748-79) was a flamboyant cavalryman from Poland who served as commander of horse at Trenton during the 1777-78 winter with the rank of brigadier general He died of wounds received at Savannah in 1779 while leading his legion. (Portrait by Julian Rys, 1897.)
eign volunteer who could upgrade the effectiveness of the mounted arm in the same way that Duportail was improving the engineers. Casimir Pulaski, a Pole, consequently became Commander of Horse and a brigadier general. Shortly thereafter Francois-Louis Teisseidre, the Marquis de Fleury, assumed the position of brigade major for the light dragoons, and the four regiments went into winter quarters at Trenton. Washington and Pulaski used the winter to begin transforming the troopers into an offensive force. Pulaski established a riding school to train the horses and men in European shock action, including cut-and-thrust saber tactics. The large organization approved by Congress on 27 May 1778 reflected a desire to implement this transition. Unfortunately, Pulaski clashed with his American officers and resigned as Commander of Horse on 28 March 1778. Washington never found a replacement, and the strategic changes after Monmouth led him to restore the light dragoons to a reconnaissance role.31
Although the light dragoons did not develop into a European-style cavalry force, the Continental Army introduced a number of other light units patterned after the European partisan corps, which had emerged in the Seven Years' War. The partisan corps, or legion, was a recent European development designed primarily to conduct raids on enemy rear areas. Maj. Nicholas Dietrich, Baron de Ottendorf, a Saxon veteran of the Prussian Army, commanded the first of these units. On 5 December 1776 Congress ordered him to recruit one company of chasseurs (light infantry) and two of jaegers (riflemen). A fourth company was added in April 1777. Most of the officers were foreign volunteers, but the enlisted men came from the German-American community. After Ottendorf deserted, Congress placed Col. Charles Armand Tuffin, the Marquis de la Rouerie (known in America as Colonel Armand), in command. It also
31. JCC, 8:745; 12:897, 941; Burnett, Letters, 3:408; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 7:51, 190-91; 9:143-44, 305; 10:234-36; 11:446; 12:228, 276, 490; 13:14-15; Samuel Hay to William Irvine, 14 Nov 77, Historical Magazine 3 (1859):283; Gates Papers (to Washington, 23 May 78; Benjamin Tallmadge to Gates, 1 Jun 78).
told him to raise a partisan corps of 200 Frenchmen on 19 May, but he did not fill it in
When General Pulaski resigned his command, Congress allowed him to raise an "independent corps." It consisted of a troop of 68 lancers and 200 light infantry organized into a legion. The cadre for the troop came from light dragoons he had trained at Trenton. Congress authorized another independent corps on 7 April 1778 to reward Capt. Henry Lee for excellent service on the lines around Philadelphia. It promoted Lee to major, withdrew his troop from the 1st Continental Light Dragoons, and expanded it first into two troops and then into three on 28 May. Lee used the small light dragoon organization of 1777, which was appropriate for reconnaissance. Armand finally recruited his Free and Independent Chasseurs after Congress approved an organization for it on 25 June 1778. It consisted of three large companies based on Marshal Maurice de Saxe's concept of the legion. Each contained 4 officers, 8 noncommissioned officers, 2 drummers (or horn players), and 128 privates.33
At the end of 1778 the Main Army had three partisan corps. Lee's, an American force, was entirely mounted; Pulaski's (usually operating with the remnants of Ottendorf's companies) was a combined arms unit; and Armand's consisted entirely of infantry. Pulaski's and Armand's corps contained large foreign contingents. When Washington and Congress concluded that the most efficient partisan organization contained balanced numbers of mounted and dismounted men, Congress annexed Capt. Allen McLane's infantry company (formerly of Patton's Additional Regiment) to Lee on 13 July 1779. On 14 February 1780 it added seventy more men to form a total of three dismounted troops. The success of this experiment led Congress to rescind an earlier directive disbanding Pulaski's corps and to consolidate it with Armand's on 23 February.34
Congress authorized a special mounted police unit, the Marechaussee Corps, on 27 May 1778. It also had European rather than Anglo-American precedents. It consisted of 5 officers, 1 clerk, 8 noncommissioned officers, 2 trumpeters, and 47 privates (including 4 who served as executioners). The corps assisted the provost marshal in maintaining order in camp and on the march. In combat it took station behind the Second Line to secure the rear and to prevent desertion. Capt. Bartholomew Von Heer, a Prussian veteran, recruited the corps in the Pennsylvania-German communities of Berks and Lancaster Counties. It contributed to the general improvement in the Army's internal order and discipline.35
Another police-type unit, created in 1779, assumed responsibility for guarding prisoners of war, a function previously performed by militia. When Burgoyne surrendered, the "Saratoga Convention" stipulated that his troops had to leave North America and not return unless exchanged. When the British failed to honor some of the
32. JCC, 6:1007; 7:186, 346; Fitzpatrick, Writings,
6:324: 8:91-92, 224-26; 9:162; New-York Historical Society Collections
for 1915, pp. 566-69; Saffell, Records of the Revolutionary War
33. JCC, 10:291, 294, 314-15, 364; 11:545, 642-45. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:80-82, 205-6, 230; 12:15253, 470; 13:41-43. Gates Papers to Washington, 24 Jun and 13 Jul 78.
34. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 14:65, 74-79; 15:233, 242, 345; 17:450-52, 496-97; JCC, 13:132, 143, 181; 14:822-23; 15:1418; 16:159, 187; Burnett, Letters, 4:45, 55, 58-59, 67; Gates Papers (Armand to Gates, 25 Jul 80).
35. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:443; 12:26-27, 241; 13:61-63, 68-70; 19:41; JCC, 11:541, 729; Steuben Papers (Von Heer to Steuben, 31 Dec 79).
BENJAMIN FLOWER (1748-81) served as commissary general of military stores and as commander of the Artillery Artificer Regiment with the rank of lieutenant colonel He was a native of Philadelphia. (Portrait attributed to James Peale.)
minor provisions of the agreement, Congress suspected that the regiments would in fact not be sent to Europe once they were released and therefore detained them. In the fall of 1778 they were transferred from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Charlottesville, Virginia, for security reasons.36 Instead of using militia guards, on 23 December 1778 Virginia decided to raise a 600-man regiment under former Continental officers. Congress modified Virginia's plan somewhat when it adopted this Regiment of Guards on 9 January 1779. It remained under the control of the governor, rather than the Southern Department. The regiment disbanded in stages between 10 April and 9 June 1781 when the "Convention Army" moved to Maryland.37
The Corps of Invalids was a specialized unit established in 1777. The British Army used separate companies of men not fit for field duty to garrison fortifications in the home islands. The Continental Army, reflecting its growing professionalism, turned to a similar organization to free combat units from defending depots not in immediate danger. On 20 June 1777 Congress authorized Col. Lewis Nicola, a strong proponent of the concept, to organize the corps. It had the additional mission of recruiting and training replacements. Congress directed Nicola to set up a "Military School for Young Gentlemen" within the regiment to train ensigns for ultimate assignment to line units. He recruited at Philadelphia during the summer and added a detachment at Boston the following winter. The corps never fulfilled its training function, but it performed valuable garrison duty, especially at West Point, until the end of the war.38
The growing sophistication of the Continental Army, inspired in part by foreign volunteers, was reflected also in improvements introduced in 1778 and 1779 in the organization of supporting troops. Following the death of General Coudray on 17 September 1777, Washington, Knox, and Commissary General of Military Stores Benjamin Flower moved to upgrade the Army's ordnance staff. On 11 November Congress approved the addition of two more artillery artificer companies. Washington and Knox hoped to group the four companies into a regiment for better administration and then to assign detachments to each division at the start of the 1778 campaign to perform small arms maintenance. On 11 February 1778 Congress consolidated responsibility for ordnance, munitions, military equipment, and repair of weapons under Flower, who also became colonel of the new Artillery Artificer Regiment. The two old and the two new companies were joined in the spring by a fifth, and the regiment later absorbed Lt. Col. Ebenezer Stevens' maintenance company when that unit joined the Main Army in August 1778. The regiment's officers held special commissions
36. JCC, 9:1058-64; 10:13-17; 12:902, 1016-18;
Fitzpatrick, Writings, 10:10,56-58; 13:131-32, 218-20, 274-75, 289-91,
308, 311-13; Smith, Letters of Delegates, 2:436. The British had
violated a similar agreement, the Convention of Kloster Kampen, in the
Seven Years' War.
37. JCC, 13:42-43; Jefferson, Papers, 3:155-56, 191-92; 4:252-53, 565, 603-5; 5:147, 333-34, 408-9, 426-28, 661-62; 6:66-67; Henry Read McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia, 3 vols., (Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1926-29), 1:347-49, 355; Burnett, Letters, 6:5, 99-100; Steuben Papers (Return, 1 Dec 80); Palmer, Calendar of Virginia State Papers, 2:574.
38. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 9:28-29, 283-84; 10:11, 152; 12:69, 280; 22:121, 236-42; JCC, 7:288-89; 8:485-86, 554-56; RG 360, National Archives (Nicola to Congress, 2 Oct 77); Lewis Nicola, "Unpublished Letters of Colonel Lewis Nicola, Revolutionary Soldier," ed. Howard R. Marraro, Pennsylvania History, 13 (1946):274. Nicola had gained a national reputation as a military expert because of his translation of Chevalier de Clairac's L'Ingenieur de Campagne; or, Field Engineer (Philadelphia: R. Aitken, 1776) and his own A Treatise of Military Exercise, Calculated for the Use of Americans (Philadelphia: Styner and Cist, 1776).
which restricted their authority to the regiment; this provision was wise since they were really supervisory technicians.39
Congress did not make the Department of Military Stores subordinate to Knox, as Washington had wished. It remained under the Board of War's supervision. Repeated pressure produced a compromise on 18 February 1779 when Congress created the additional position of Field Commissary of Military Stores to directly support the Main Army. With ordnance officials' cooperation, artillery officers received technical training at ordnance depots. Another new office, the surveyor of ordnance, in theory allowed the artillery colonels, on a rotating basis, to make the technical service more responsive to the needs of the troops in the field. John Lamb, the colonel with the greatest technical proficiency, however, served as surveyor for the rest of the war.40
During the summer of 1778 Washington returned to a concept used in 1776 but discarded in 1777. The skilled workmen serving the Quartermaster General now assembled again as "companies," or work crews, under the supervision of Col. Jeduthan Baldwin. Baldwin demonstrated an aptitude for supervising construction parties, and the assignment conveniently precluded the possibility that he might quarrel with the French engineers. These artificers carried out construction at West Point, maintained wheeled vehicles, and mended roads as pioneers during marches. When the Artillery Artificer Regiment proved successful, Congress directed Washington on 11 November 1779 to arrange Baldwin's companies into a permanent Quartermaster Artificer Regiment. Its officers were under most of the same restrictions as Flower's, and the regiment ultimately contained nine companies.41
The foreign volunteers who arrived in America after 1776 contributed in important ways to the developing sophistication of the Continental Army. Washington and Congress began planning improvements in various areas as early as the winter of 1776-77, but they could not act until volunteers with necessary technical skills became available. The most immediate impact was the emergence of an engineer service, both combat and topographical. The former was staffed almost exclusively with foreigners; the latter was inspired by the French Army, although American experience in surveying also shaped its work. European concepts of cavalry combat did not prove successful, but foreign volunteers added several contingents of light troops to the Army. Among the special supporting units that Washington and Congress formed during 1778-79, the Marechaussee and Invalids also had foreign precedents. The greatest foreign contribution, however, came in administration and training.
Foreign volunteers brought ideas recently developed by European military theorists to the attention of American officers. The volunteers thereby contributed to a professional growth already begun with the efforts of Washington and other concerned
39. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 8:8; 10:277-80; JCC,
7:179; 9:891-92; 10:119, 144-50; 15:1398-99; Artillery Brigade Orderly
Books (Artillery Brigade Orders, 25 Aug 783, New-York Historical Society.
The equipment of the divisional detachments included a mobile repair shop.
40. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 12:273-74; 13:489; 14:68; 15:79-80; 17:170; 20:445; JCC, 13:201-6; 17:724-25, 793; 18:1093; 25:540-41; John Lamb Letterbook (to Knox, 19 Jun 79), New-York Historical Society.
41. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 12:246-47; 13:73; 14:212; 18:1-2; JCC, 15:1261-62, 1276; 16:212; Gates Papers (Baldwin to Capt [Peter] Mills, 10 Sep 78).
HENRI BOUQUET (1719-65) was a Swiss professional soldier serving in the British Army during the French and Indian War when he helped to develop tactics of wilderness fighting that proved very influential on the later Continental Army. (Portrait by John Wollaston, ca. 1760.)
military leaders. One volunteer, Frederick Wilhelm von Steuben, played the most important role in this regard by synthesizing military concepts for Washington, training the Main Army, and creating an administrative staff of Americans and Europeans to bring uniformity and competence to the battlefield.
European military theorists had introduced ideas during the mid-eighteenth century which under Napoleon would transform warfare. The British Army, however, remained on the periphery of these developments. Maj. Gen. Humphrey Bland's A Treatise of Military Discipline (first published in 1727) dominated British thinking through the French and Indian War. It was little more than a drill manual that reflected the practices of the Duke of Marlborough. A new drill book introduced in 1764 by Adjutant General Edward Harvey, and known colloquially as "The '64," replaced Bland's. The continentals used it as an unofficial manual early in the Revolutionary War. Like its predecessor, it had limited theoretical content.42
Two exceptional British generals exerted an important influence on American thinking during the French and Indian War. Henri Bouquet (a Swiss serving in the British Army) and John Forbes, faced with the problem of operating with a regular army in the North American wilderness, used Lancelot, Comte Turpin de Crisse's Commentaires and Marshal Saxe's Reveries for inspiration. Those French writers had argued that Roman history demonstrated that regular line infantry could function in broken terrain if they also trained as light infantry. Forbes based his 1758 campaign, in which Washington served as a brigade commander, on this concept, and Bouquet later refined it. Bouquet's "Reflections on War With the Savages of North America" appeared in 1765 as an appendix to William Smith's A Historical Account of the Ex-
42. Fuller, British Light Infantry, pp. 79-86, 152-53; Ira D. Gruber, "British Strategy: The Theory and Practice of Eighteenth-Century Warfare," in Don Higginbotham, ed., Reconsiderations on the Revolutionary War: Selected Essays (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978), pp. 14-31; Glover, Peninsular Preparation, pp. 116-22, 194-95. Few British officers pursued independent reading to compensate for Bland's weaknesses.
pedition Against the Ohio Indians in the Year MDCCLXIV and later served as a handbook for the Continental Army.43
Although Frederick the Great of Prussia dominated military science at mid-century, his success came from his personal genius and incredible capacity for work. His Army, trained through years of drill, resembled a machine. The widespread imitation of the Prussian Army only mimicked its external forms. Real theoretical development grew out of France's humiliating defeat in the Seven Years' War. In the aftermath, prolonged debate took place between advocates of heavy, massed infantry formations assaulting with the bayonet (the ordre profond) and proponents of linear tactics that maximized infantry firepower (the ordre mince).44
An important doctrinal development occurred in 1766 when the Comte de Guibert presented the French War Ministry with a memorandum introducing a compromise ordre mixte. This memorandum, subsequently refined and published in 1772 as the Essai General de Tactique, stressed flexibility and utility. Infantrymen, trained for both line and light infantry duties, deployed in line, column, or a combination of both, depending on the tactical needs of the particular situation. Guibert drew heavily on Gribeauval; artillery supported the infantry by firing on enemy troop formations, preferably from massed batteries. Although the French Army did not formally adopt Guibert's ideas until 1791, war games, particularly ones held in 1778 at Vassieux, Normandy, tested the merits of the different systems and converted many officers to the mixed order.
Americans closely followed European military developments. If European authors tended to dismiss America as atypical because of the nature of its terrain and Indian warfare, American officers in turn were selective in accepting European ideas. Nathanael Greene summarized this attitude in December 1777 when he cautioned a council of war that "experience is the best of schools and the safest guide in human affairs—yet I am no advocate for blindly following all the maxims of European policy, but where reason corresponds with what custom has long sanctified, we may safely copy their Example."45 This insistence on filtering theory through practical experience led Washington and others to value Saxe and Guibert for their flexibility. It also contributed to the intense interest in petite guerre, or partisan operations, which seemed to fit the "natural genius" of Americans for ranger operations. In fact, interest in such operations led to a reprinting in 1772 of Thomas Church's History of the Great Indian War. First published in 1716, this account of the ranger tactics developed between 1675 and 1715 by Col. Benjamin Church in operations against New England Indians, was the only significant American military work published before the Revolution.46
43. King Lawrence Parker, "Anglo-American Wilderness Campaign,
1754-1764; Logistical and Tactical Developments," (Ph.D. diss., Columbia
University, 1970), pp. 252-342; Fuller, British Light Infantry, pp.
90-91, 108-10; John K. Mahon, "Anglo-American Methods of Indian Warfare,
1676-1794 " Mississippi Valley Historical Review 45 (1958):268.
44. This discussion is based on Robert S. Quimby, The Background of Napoleonic Warfare: The Theory of Military Tactics in Eighteenth Century France (New York: Columbia University Press, 1957); John Albert Lynn, "The Revolution on the Battlefield: Training and Tactics of the Armee Du Nord, 1792-17949, (Ph.D. diss., University of California at Los Angeles, 1973); and Stephen T. Ross, "The Development of the Combat Division in Eighteenth-Century French Armies," French Historical Studies 4 (1965):84-94.
45. Worthington c. Ford, ed., Defences of Philadelphia in 1777 (Brooklyn: Historical Printing Club, 1897), pp. 248-56.
46. Force, American Archives, 4th ser., 2:385-86; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 4:80-81.
JEAN-BAPTISTE, CHEVALIER DE TERNANT (1751-1816) was a French volunteer who served as the Southern Department's deputy inspector general from 1778 to 1782. After the Revolution he became a colonel in the Dutch and later French armies and briefly returned to the United States as minister of France in 1791. (Portrait by Charles Willson Peale, 1781.)
In 1777 Washington issued standing orders directing Continental officers to use their spare time to read "military authors." Foreign observers recognized that this official policy was a sign of growing professionalism, and a number contributed their time and advice to foster the trend. Thomas-Antoine, Chevalier de Mauduit du Plessis, for example, was particularly instrumental in introducing the Army's leaders to Guibert's writings. Du Plessis, a graduate of the rigorous Grenoble artillery school, had proved his skill and gallantry at Germantown and in the defense of Fort Mifflin. He became a respected teacher at Valley Forge.47
Frederick von Steuben played an even more important role. "The Baron," as he came to be known, was a Prussian veteran. He had served as a junior infantry officer for ten years with responsibility for training troops. In 1757, as a reward for gallantry in action, Steuben became the principal staff officer of one of the Prussian "free corps" organized to counter Austrian light troops. This duty exposed him to a less rigid form of military organization and gave him valuable administrative experience. He progressed rapidly, and in 1762 he joined Frederick the Great's special corps of aides. This assignment provided him with the best staff training available in the eighteenth century. When Army politics forced his retirement in 1764 as a captain, he spent the next decade as the chamberlain of a minor prince.48
During 1777 Steuben offered his services to Benjamin Franklin, using the Comte de Saint-Germain as an intermediary. The three men prepared credentials falsely identifying Steuben as a lieutenant general. Congress accepted him as a volunteer without rank, and on 23 February 1778 he arrived at Valley Forge. After inspecting the troops
47. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 8:28; Fuller, British
Light Infantry, pp. 151-52; Sebastian Bauman Papers (George Fleming
to Maj Sebastian Bauman, 6 Feb 78), New-York Historical Society; Laurens,
Army Correspondence, pp. 98-101, 134-41; Spaulding, "Military Studies
of George Washington," American Historical Review, 29:675-80.
48. His claim to be a baron appears to be groundless; his family's use of the enabling "von" clearly was. Steuben himself used the French "de" in America rather than the German "von."
and conferring with senior officers, Steuben told Washington that the continentals were the finest raw material for an army he had ever seen. Washington promptly assigned Steuben to prepare a system of "discipline, maneuveres, evolutions, [and] regulations for guards."49
Steuben analyzed existing practices, based primarily on the 1764 British manual, and compared them to European systems. As he later wrote Franklin, "circumstances. . . Obliged me to deviate from the Principles adopted in the European Armies.... Young as We are, We have already our Prejudices as the most ancient Nations, [and] the prepossession in favor of the British service, has obliged me to comply with many Things, which are against my Principles."50 Steuben's genius led him to develop a new system rather than to modify an existing one. He simplified the British manual of arms and slowed its prescribed tempo to improve execution. Marching in a column four abreast instead of in single file allowed more compact formations and dramatically improved battlefield deployment. He increased the marching pace from the English 60 two-foot steps per minute to 75 (the Prussian norm). He set doubletime at 120. To complement the Continental Army's excellent musketry, Steuben also emphasized bayonet training. He and Washington made officers responsible for drilling the troops. Steuben drew on many precedents, including Prussian, English, and American practices. Foreign officers recognized the uniqueness of the mixture and noted its efficiency.51
To speed the learning process, Washington organized a provisional "model company" as an adjunct to his guard. On 19 March, Steuben personally began to train this company. His colorful curses, delivered in a variety of languages, amused the large crowds that assembled each day to witness the spectacle. This calculated psychological effect contributed to the Baron's popularity and the smooth adoption of the drill. Members of the model company and selected officers then spent six weeks instructing all other units at Valley Forge and later extended the system to the rest of the Continental Army.52
Steuben produced a simple but efficient method for maneuvering on the battlefield. Like Guibert and other French theoreticians, he used both column and line to achieve tactical flexibility. Divisions and brigades marched in closed columns for speed and control and rapidly deployed into line for musket fire or bayonet charge. Skirmishers, either light infantry or details from line units, covered the columns during advance or withdrawal. They kept one hundred yards (the effective range of a musket) from the column to prevent enemy harassment of the main body. As soon as the column deployed into line, the skirmishers withdrew through gaps and re-formed. The men maintained silence when marching.53
In the fall of 1778 a board of generals reviewed Steuben's drill and suggested only one improvement: replacing the traditional command "Present!" with "Take Sight!" as the order immediately preceding "Fire!" Washington agreed and made the change. This emphasis indicated the Continental Army's continued reliance on marksman-
49. Laurens, Army Correspondence, pp. 134-41; Fitzpatrick,
Writings, 8:108, 255; 11:163.
50. Steuben Papers (to Franklin, 28 Sep 79).
51. Idzerda, Lafayette, 1:73-87, 91-103; Camus, Military Music, p. 87; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:233, 335-36' 399-401; 12:4-7; C. Fiske Harris, ed., "Diary of a French Officer, 1781 (Presumed to he that of Baron Cromot du Bourg, Aid to Rochambeau)," Magazine of American History 7(1881):294-95.
52. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:163-64; 13:342; Steuben Papers (Jean Baptiste Ternant to Steuben, (20 Jan and g Mar 79; William Davies to Steuben, 17 Oct 78).
53. Pennsylvania Archives, 2d ser., 11:290-91, 304, 320-22, 410-11.
ship.54 Steuben polished the text. Pierre L'Enfant drew illustrations, and on 29 March 1779 Congress approved publication of the drill. Almost every officer received a copy. Washington overruled Steuben's desire to classify it as a state secret because he hoped that the militia would also adopt the drill so that replacements would be properly trained before they joined the Army.55
Steuben's Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, Part I (better known as "The Blue Book") covered all aspects of infantry service. It specified that a regiment deploy tactically in eight companies, each under its own officers. (Chart 10) This system prevented the type of confusion that had crippled the Hessians at Trenton. A regiment with more than 160 files (320 privates and corporals) formed as two 4-company battalions; those with less than 80 files (160 men) either temporarily combined with a second small regiment or did not take a place in the line of battle. A special 12-man color guard gave each regimental commander an emergency reserve force. Light infantry companies either deployed as skirmishers or in provisional battalions. The column became the standard maneuver formation; training emphasized movement through broken terrain and rapid deployment into line. Bayonet charges were designed to maximize their shock effect.56 In addition, the regulations improved the efficiency of the trains so that the Army could move without encumbrance and still fight a sustained engagement immediately. The specified routine of daily life emphasized health and morale.
The Regulations also stressed the importance of regimental administration. An appendix clearly explained the functions of every individual in a regiment from its commander to its lowest private. Senior noncommissioned officers received training to supervise the four squads that formed each company and to act as staff officers in an emergency. The attitude that permeated the Regulations was summarized in the direction that a captain's "first object should be, to gain the love of his men, by treating them with every possible kindness and humanity, enquiring into their complaints, and when well founded, seeing them redressed. He should know every man of his company by name and character." This attitude put the Continental Army in the forefront of the most progressive military thinking of the period.57
Steuben's contributions to the Continental Army did not stop with The Blue Book, for he also served in a new staff office, that of Inspector General. Between 1778 and 1780 this office grew, and Steuben emerged as Washington's de facto chief of staff. Baron Henry D'Arendt, commander of the German Battalion, first suggested adding an inspector general to the staff. A council of war endorsed the suggestion as a way to use foreign expertise with minimum disruption. Congress altered the concept on 13 December 1777 when it authorized two inspectors general, one of whom was Gen-
54. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 8:268; 12:360. Gates'
notes of the 26 August 1778 board meeting are in the Gates Papers.
55. Ibid., 14:151-52, 227-31, 369, 444-46, 488-89; 15:46-49; 16:432-33, 447, 449, 468; JCC, 13:384-85; Steuben Papers (Charles Thomson to Steuben, 5 Apr 79; John Jay to Steuben, 6 Apr 79; Pickering to Steuben. 26 May, 19 Jun. and 12 Jul 79; Peter Scull to Steuben, 26 Jun and 27 Jul 79; Ternant to Steuben, 29 Sep 79 and 7 Jan 80).
56. Frederick Steuben, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. Part I (Philadelphia: Styner and Cist, 1779). At least seven other editions were published by 1785, primarily to supply militia demands. Chart 10 shows the disposition prescribed for a regiment.
57. Steuben completed a second volume, "Baron von Steuben Regulations for the Cavalry or Corps Legionaire," which closely paralleled the infantry regulations, on 22 Dec 1780, but was not published. It can be found in the Steuben Papers.
ENLISTMENT FORM OF PRIVATE PHILIP SHAFER. By the second half of the Revolution, the Army's paperwork attained a high degree of sophistication. Private Shafer enlisted in the Marechaussee Corps on 15 February 1780. He then signed this printed form which recorded the term of his enlistment, his receipt of his enlistment bounty, and his having taken his oath of enlistment. Notice that Private Shafer was illiterate.
eral Conway. Congress required the inspectors to see that every officer and soldier was "instructed in the exercise and manoeuvres which may be established by the Board of War." Their other duties, "agreeable to the practice of the best disciplined European Armies," related to discipline, paperwork, and investigating fraud. They reported directly to Congress, not to the Commander in Chief.58 Washington ignored Conway and used Steuben, with his superior credentials, to regain control of this office. On 28 March 1778 he appointed Steuben as temporary Inspector General. Four subinspectors acted as division-level assistants, and one major from each brigade extended the system to that echelon. The first duty of these subinspectors and majors was implementing Steuben's drill.59 After experience proved the utility of this arrangement,
58. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 10:249-50; Laurens,
Army Correspondence, pp. 98-101; Burnett, Letters, 3.20-25,
59. Gates Papers (Conway to Gates, 11 Nov 77); Fitzpatrick, Writings, 10:226-27; 11:108, 132, 163, 173-74, 313, 335-36; 12:66-68; Laurens, Army Correspondence, pp. 109-12, 131-49. A fifth subinspector, the Marquis de Fleury, was added on 27 April 1778, and subsequently he instructed the Maryland division at Wilmington.
Congress approved it and on 5 May 1778 commissioned Steuben as a major general. Washington had lobbied hard for the rank.60
When the Main Army took the field, Washington used the subinspectors as divisional adjutants general. He also clarified the status and authority of the inspectors. Tactical command remained with the unit commanders. Inspectors simply ensured that drills followed official Army doctrine. New legislation on 18 February 1779 authorized a single Inspector General with the rank of a major general and responsibility for preparing regulations. His staff conducted inspections on the authority of the Commander in Chief or commanding officer of a territorial department and reported through those commanders to the Board of War. Brigade inspectors (majors) absorbed the functions of the brigade majors and became the senior staff officers in each brigade. The senior subinspector (a lieutenant colonel) could temporarily act for the Adjutant General. Subinspectors also served as adjutants general for wings of the Main Army or separate departments.61
Col. Alexander Scammell replaced Timothy Pickering as Adjutant General on 5 January 1778. Scammell, a Harvard graduate with ample command and staff experience, worked with Steuben to standardize the Army's paperwork. They developed printed forms for most of the routine regimental and brigade bookkeeping chores and even issued "blank-books" to each soldier for his personal records. Their partnership paved the way for the gradual merger of the two major staff agencies. Steuben developed policies while Scammell concentrated on routine administration. Congress agreed that consolidation made sense, and on 17 May 1779 it reduced the Adjutant General's department to the Adjutant General, two assistants, and a clerk. They operated the headquarters orderly office. The Inspector General gradually rendered the mustering department redundant as well. On 12 January 1780 Congress abolished it.62 Consolidation was further extended on 25 September 1780. Legislation officially designated the Adjutant General as the assistant inspector general for the Main Army. It also authorized inspectors for artillery, cavalry, and militia on active duty with the Continental Army.63
Under Steuben the Inspector General became the Army's supreme administrator and the virtual chief of staff to the Commander in Chief. Subordinate officials in the department assumed parallel positions under territorial, division, and brigade commanders. The transformation was remarkably free of bureaucratic friction. Changes in personnel and the growth of Washington's personal staff had weakened the Adjutant General, the one official in a position to challenge Steuben's hegemony. The latter's close relationships with the final two Adjutants General, Scammell and Brig. Gen. Edward Hand, facilitated the new arrangement. In contrast to Europe, where either the Adjutant General or the Quartermaster General became paramount, the
60. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:329-31, 366; JCC,
11:465-66, 498-500, 728-29; 12:1010. Congress appointed Chevalier de la
Neuville as inspector general to Gates' northern command with the rank
of brevet brigadier general. His younger brother, Noirmont de la Neuville,
Conway's aide, served as his deputy. Neither made a significant contribution.
61. JCC, 11:819-23; 13:111, 196-200; Burnett, Letters, 4:41; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 12:16, 66-68, 438-44; 14:444-46; 15:129-31, 288-90, 293, 475-76; Steuben Papers (Peters to Steuben, 2 Jun 78; William Davies to Steuben, 18 Jun and 21 and 26 Jul 79; subinspectors to Steuben, 20 Jun 79).
62. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 10:80-82, 245, 297, 332-33; 14:120-21, 224-27, 486; 15:356-58; 16:11-13, 134-36; 17:99-100, 495-96 18:64; JCC, 13:403-4; 14:600-601; 16:47; Steuben Papers (Davies to Steuben, 26 Jul 79; Scammell to Steuben, 22 Sep 79; Benjamin Walker to Steuben, 2 Feb and 10 Mar 80).
63. JCC, 17:764-70; 18:855-61. The act confusingly called brigade inspectors subinspectors.
rise of the Inspector General again demonstrates the flexibility exercised in the use of European precedents. Americans borrowed where appropriate, but they were not afraid to be innovative.64
The Reorganization of 1778-79 in Practice
The 1778 campaign opened before Washington had an opportunity to implement the organizational changes mandated in the 27 May 1778 resolve. Steuben, Duportail, and the other foreign volunteers, however, had already begun to make their contributions. France's declaration of war on Great Britain pushed the War of American Independence into a global struggle in which North America became less important as a theater. The first impact of that change came in the British decision to evacuate Philadelphia rather than risk losing New York City. Washington set out from Valley Forge and caught up with Clinton's army on 28 June at Monmouth. Maj. Gen. Charles Lee commanded the Continental van. Recently released in a prisoner-of-war exchange, he failed to understand the changes that had taken place in the abilities of the Army since December 1776. As a result, he mishandled his troops, and Washington had to settle for a hard-fought draw. Clinton reached New York City without further incident, and Washington moved to White Plains, New York, where his Main Army joined forces with the troops from the Highlands and prepared for further action.
During the year that followed Monmouth, Washington and Congress gradually implemented the 27 May 1778 organizational changes. Action came state-by-state. Various factors influenced the timing of each reorganization and the specific arrangements: recruiting success, the initial strength of the regiments, and their geographical location. On 9 March 1779, after a careful review, Congress reduced the state lines to 80 regiments by lowering New Jersey's quota to 3, Pennsylvania's to 11, Virginia's to 11, North Carolina's to 6, and Georgia's to one.65
New Hampshire's three regiments made the transition to the new structure on 23 December 1778. Connecticut's eight regiments did so on 11 July 1779, and eleven days later the units of the three Massachusetts brigades stationed in the Hudson Highlands followed suit. The other Massachusetts brigade reorganized its three strongest regiments on 1 August when they returned from detached duty in Rhode Island; Bigelow's Regiment (and Alden's Regiment, which was not in the brigade) reorganized somewhat later. The Massachusetts regiments had not had numerical designations since 1776, but following the recommendation of a board of general officers, Washington numbered them on 1 August 1779 according to the relative seniority of their colonels in 1777.66
The New York Brigade had assembled for the first time on 22 July 1778. Washington continued to use it to defend New York's frontier, and all five of its regiments reorganized on 30 May 1779. Although Congress had allowed New Jersey to reduce its
64. Ward, Wellington's Headquarters, pp. 130-31;
David G. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon (New York: The Macmillan
Co., 1966), pp. 56, 144-61. Steuben was familiar with at least one French
source; among his papers is an undated manuscript entitled "Instructions
Relatives au Department des Inspecteurs de l'Armee."
65. JCC, 13:108-9, 143, 298-99; Burnett, Letters, 4:377-79; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 13:485-91; 14:3-12, 26-32, 71-72, 86-87.
66. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 15:342, 406, 461-62; 16:33-34, 51-53; 17:15-16; JCC, 15:1033; Gates Papers (Inspection Report for Glover's Brigade, 18 Aug 79).
quota to three regiments in 1778, the 4th New Jersey Regiment did not actually disband until 7 February 1779. The other three regiments then reorganized and incorporated the 4th's personnel.67 Congress had reduced Pennsylvania's quota of regiments to ten on 26 February 1778, but on 27 March it had allotted Hartley's Additional Regiment as an eleventh Pennsylvania regiment. Washington made the reduction on 22 July 1778; Pennsylvania was thus able to adopt the new regimental organization well in advance of the other states.68 The Maryland and Delaware regiments spent the winter of 1777-78 at Wilmington and were successful in their recruiting. They reorganized on 12 May 1779. From 16 December 1778 until 13 January 1779 the Delaware Regiment had been reinforced by the transfer of Delaware men under Capt. Allen McLane from Patton's Additional Regiment.69
In late 1777 Virginia loaned (until 1780) the 1st and 2d Virginia State Regiments to the Continental Army to replace that year's losses. A greater problem than replacing those losses was reenlisting the veterans in the 1st through the 9th Virginia regiments whose terms expired during the winter of 1777-78. Washington experimented with a series of provisional reorganizations, including reducing Virginia's brigades to three on 22 July 1778. The permanent reorganization came on 12 May 1779; Washington consolidated eight weak regiments into four and renumbered the line. On 5 May 1779 he had already ordered Brig. Gen. Charles Scott, in charge of recruiting in the state, to organize all available officers and recruits into three provisional regiments as reinforcements for the Southern Department. The first of these units, under Col. Richard Parker, left Petersburg in October and reached Charleston, South Carolina, on 5 December. The second, under Col. William Heth, did not arrive until 7 April. Col. Abraham Buford left the state with the third still later.70
When North Carolina's nine regiments joined the Main Army in 1777, they were so weak that their field officers recommended transferring all enlisted men to the three senior regiments. On 29 May 1778 Congress ordered the transfer and directed North Carolina to use the surplus officers to form four new regiments. Late in 1778 the cadres of the new units went to South Carolina in provisional formations. The 3d North Carolina Regiment had to return home in the spring of 1779 to recruit. The 1st and 2d regiments finally reorganized under the new structure on 22 July 1779 in the Hudson Highlands.71
Although the Georgia and South Carolina units did not serve in the north, they also declined in strength. Idleness, climate, and the expiration of enlistments took
67. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 12:216; 13:264-65; 14:73-74,
414-16; 20:295-96; JCC, 10:361; Burnett, Letters, 3:109;
Stirling Papers (undated 1778 return of recruiting officers).
68. Pennsylvania Archives, 2d ser., 11:307-8, 336-37; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 12:215-18; JCC, 10:288, 13:298-99; Burnett, Letters, 3:123-24; Stille, Anthony Wayne, pp. 125-26, 158-59, 175-77. Hartley was a popular recruiter.
69. JCC, 12:1225-26; 13:58; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 10:360; 15:46-47, 265-67; Archives of Maryland, 18:312-16; Anderson, Persona/ Recollections, pp. 53-55.
70. JCC, 8:737; 9:967; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 9:329, 367, 481-82; 10:54-56; 153, 254-55; 12:79-81, 139, 215-17, 279; 14:72, 498-99; 15:17-19, 46; "Revolutionary Army Orders for the Main Army Under Washington, 1778-1779," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 17 (1910):417-18; George Weedon, Valley Forge Orderly Book of General George Weedon, ed. Samuel W. Pennypacker (New York: Dodd, Mead and Co., 1902), pp. 80, 206-7; Palmer, Calendar of Virginia State Papers, 1:319; Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina in the Revolution, 2 vols. (New York: Macmillan Co., 1902), 1:427.
71. JCC, 11:550-51; 13:14-15, 132, 385; 14:560-61; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 10:268-69; 12:8; 15:462; Burnett, Letters, 3:382-84, 426.
BENJAMIN LINCOLN (1733-1810) joined the Continental Army in 1777 as a major general after serving at that rank in the Massachusetts militia. As commander of the Southern Department at Charleston in 1780 he presided over the worst American defeat in the war, but he was also present at the great victories of Saratoga and Yorktown and ended the Revolution as the secretary at war. (Portrait by Charles Willson Peale, ca. 1782.)
their toll. A full company of the 1st South Carolina Regiment, serving as marines, was lost on 8 March 1778 when the frigate Randolph blew up during an engagement with the British ship of the line Yarmouth off Barbados. Georgia's troops suffered virtual annihilation during the winter of 1778-79 when the British overran that state in a new offensive. Congress finally empowered Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, who had assumed command of the Southern Department on 4 December 1778, to consolidate the two state lines and to organize them under the new regimental structure. Local political jealousies blocked action until 20 January 1780. Lincoln reorganized the Georgia units, now existing only on paper, as one infantry regiment and one regiment of mounted rangers. South Carolina's troops formed one artillery regiment and three regiments of infantry.72
Congress concentrated reductions and economics on separate companies and additional regiments. They generally were weaker to begin with and lacked the political support of the state lines. Congress normally consolidated units from the same or adjacent areas, retired the excess officers, and transferred the consolidated unit to a state line if possible. Patton's and Hartley's Additional Regiments, plus the four Pennsylvania companies of Malcolm's, consolidated as the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment in 1779. Spencer's Additional Regiment absorbed Malcolm's other companies. The three additional regiments from Virginia consolidated on 22 April 1779 under Col. Nathaniel Gist. Massachusetts' three additional regiments combined under Col. Henry Jackson on 24 July 1779 as the 16th Massachusetts Regiment. Col. Samuel Blatchley Webb's Connecticut regiment became the 9th Connecticut Regiment. Sherburne's Additional Regiment, on the other hand, disbanded on 1 May 1780. Its personnel transferred to Webb's or Jackson's regiments or to the 2d Rhode Island Regiment,
72. JCC, 10:159-65; 12:951; 14:631; 16:26-27, 156; Burnett, Letters, 3:359-61; 5:34-35; Candler, Revolutionary Records, 2:38-39, 185-89; Moultrie, Memoirs of the American Revolution, 1:198-99; 2:114 Gibbes, Documentary History, C: 6; RG 360, National Archives (Lincoln to Congress, 19 Dee 78); Steuben Papers (Ternant to Steuben, 7 Jan 80).
depending on their native state. When New York refused to accept the 1st Canadian Regiment as an element of its state's line because of seniority issues, Washington reorganized it into five small companies. The 2d Canadian Regiment, however, continued under its special four-battalion configuration.73
Rhode Island's reorganization represented a unique solution to its manpower problems. At various times other states turned to their Negro inhabitants, slave and free, when recruiting lagged among whites. Most of these blacks served in integrated units, performing the same duties as other continentals, but Rhode Island followed a different pattern. In January 1778 the 1st Rhode Island Regiment transferred its privates to the 2d; the former's officers and noncommissioned officers returned home and refilled the 1st primarily with Negroes. The state government purchased slaves who wished to enlist from their owners and promised them emancipation at the end of the war. Lt. Col. John Laurens, one of Washington's aides, persuaded Congress to approve a similar plan for South Carolina on 29 March 1779, but that state refused to act on the plan.74
The formation of permanent light infantry companies during the reorganization simplified Washington's task of creating special strike forces. In 1779 four provisional light infantry regiments under General Wayne achieved a complete success in a night attack on Stony Point, New York. The following year six light battalions operated as a division under General Lafayette. The use of a specialized light infantry force may at first seem an exception to the European influence that had permeated other facets of the reorganization. Both Guibert and Saxe, for example, had stressed the value of training infantrymen for line as well as light infantry roles. However, every member of a regiment trained in both roles in the Continental Army, and the Light Corps itself was used in skirmishing as well as in standard linear formations.75
Washington and Knox found that implementing the artillery portion of the reorganization was easier than making the infantry changes. The only major impact came when three separate Maryland companies joined Col. Charles Harrison's artillery regiment, provisionally in 1778 and permanently on 9 May 1780. The large Maryland companies, each with 4 officers and 102 enlisted men, had formally transferred to the Continental Army in late 1777 to support the Maryland infantry.76 Assigning numerical designations to the regiments completed the reorganization. Washington needed two boards of general officers to resolve seniority disputes. In August 1779 the generals decided that neither John Lamb nor John Crane could claim continuity from Knox's 1776 regiment. Harrison's regiment therefore became the 1st Continental Artillery Regiment. Col. Thomas Proctor's became the 4th because it had not transferred to the Continental Army until the summer of 1777. Lamb and Crane drew lots to deter-
73. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:126; 13:55; 14:176,
180-81, 263, 354, 401-3, 426, 464; 16:3-4, 112-13; 18:319, 455, 462-63;
19:241-43; JCC, 12:1225; 13:58; Gates Papers (to Congress, Oct 1778;
Hazen to Gates, 23 Jan 79; Jacques Laframboise et al. to Gates, 16 Sep
79; Gates to Washington, 24 Sep 79); Steuben Papers (Scammell to Steuben,
25 Sep 79; Hazen to Steuben, 11 Feb 80).
74. R. I. Records, 8:358-61, 399, 526, 640-41; Rhode Island Historical Society Collections, 6:209-10; Laurens, Army Correspondence, pp. 114-18; Burnett, Letters, 4:121-24, 289; 13:386-88; David O. White, Connecticut's Black Soldiers, 1775-1783 (Chester: Pequot Press, 1973), pp. 17-19, 29-31.
75. Wayne Transcripts (to Irvine, 7 Jun 79), New York Public Library; Steuben Papers (Davies to Steuben, 31 May 79; Scammell to Steuben, 22 Jul 80; Hamilton to Steuben, 23 Jul 80.) In 1780 the light companies of the 1st and 3d Pennsylvania Regiments drew rifles and served as a special body within the Light corps under Maj. James Parr.
76. Archives of Maryland, 18:315-16, 571-78, 596-97; JCC, 9:822; 10:253; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 0:360, 520; 18:31-32, 277-79.
mine seniority. Lamb's became the 2d Continental Artillery Regiment; Crane's, the 3d.77
At Valley Forge Knox stabilized the weapons of the artillery arm. He planned to have four brass 3- or 6-pounders for each brigade. An artillery park for general support contained two 24-pounders, four 12-pounders, four 8-inch and eight 5.5-inch howitzers, and ten smaller fieldpieces. An unmanned reserve of 24-, 12-, 6-, and 3-pounders moved with the Main Army's trains, while a siege train of heavy iron guns and mortars stayed at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and Springfield, Massachusetts. French imports, captured British guns, and pieces produced in America, all mounted on Muller-style carriages, produced a surplus of weapons by 1178. That condition forced Knox to abandon plans in 1780 to make the French 4-pounder (which most efficiently combined mobility and power) the standard fieldpiece because he could not waste the stores on hand for 6- and 3-pounders.78 Companies rotated between brigades, large garrisons, and the artillery park for different types of training. Knox established a program of instruction and endorsed the theory that field artillery should avoid artillery duels and concentrate instead on infantry targets. During the battle of Monmouth this tactic proved so effective that Washington proudly claimed that "the Enemy have done them [the Artillery officers] the Justice to acknowledge that no Artillery could be better served."79
Forage problems in late 1778 forced Washington to disperse the light dragoon regiments, which never assembled as a brigade again. Serious shortages of men and horses also were factors. Washington considered, but abandoned, the idea of arming the troopers with blunderbusses in 1779 to increase their firepower. Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge of the 2d Continental Light Dragoons made a more practical suggestion. Since new recruits were easier to obtain than mount, he suggested that they be equipped temporarily as infantry. Washington ordered the 2d to implement this plan on 14 August 1779, and on 24 September he told Col. Stephen Moylan's 4th to do the same. The 1st and 3d Continental Light Dragoon Regiments transferred to the Southern Department in 1779 and operated under Lt. Col. William Washington as a composite mounted unit throughout the remaining southern campaigns.80
Implementing the 27 May 1778 resolve took a year and produced major changes only in the infantry regiments. Steuben's Blue Book and other improvements in training and support increased the effectiveness of both officers and men and partially compensated for the weaknesses inherent in the new regimental structure. The artillery merely improved on established practices, and the mounted arm and the partisans
77. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 12:458-59; 15:170-71;
16:76, 173; Lamb Papers (Doughty to Lamb, 27 Jan 78; Oswald to Lamb, 7
Jun 78; Charles Thomson to Arnold (copy), 29 Aug 78; Lamb to Washington,
12 Mar 79, crane to Washington (copy), 16 Mar 79; Lamb to Board of General
Officers, 6 Aug 79; Board of General Officers, Report, (8 Aug 79); Ebenezer
Stevens Papers (Knox to Stevens, 7 Jan 78), New-York Historical Society.
78. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 10:486-87, 11:112-13; 13:317-18; 14:329; 18:244-45; 21:24; Lamb Papers (Knox to Lamb, 19 Jul 78; Lamb to Udny Hay and to George Mavins, both 1 Jun 78); Bauman Papers (to Lamb, 25 Jun 79); Steuben Papers (Knox to Board of war (copy), 1 Mar 80).
79. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 12:131; see also 13:418; 15:187, 429-30; 17:215-16; Lamb Papers (to Knox, 30 Apt 78; Knox to Lamb, it May 78, 29 Jun 79, 31 Jul 80, 1 and 3 Aug 80; Oswald to Lamb, 7 Jun 78; Samuel Shaw to Lamb, 3 Jul 79); Artillery Brigade Orderly Books (Artillery Brigade Orders, 25 Aug 78); Uhlendorf, Revolution in America, pp. 189-93.
80. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 13:207-8, 219-20, 284, 339-40; 14:302-3, 331, 390, 469; 15:121-22; 16:93-95, 329-30; 17:135-36, 211-13; JCC, 14:560.
reverted to a reconnaissance role. The permanent brigade consisting of several infantry regiments and an artillery company remained the basic tactical element of the Continental Army. Washington improved it by adding to the specialized staff serving the brigade commander. The brigade inspector, functioning as chief of staff, controlled a maintenance section under a conductor of military stores, a logistical section under a brigade quartermaster and a brigade commissary, and an administrative section. The division, less permanent, had a comparable staff.81
During that same period, the Army's territorial department structure stabilized.82 Washington exercised effective control over all operations outside the south. The Main Army continued to function as the principal force in the Middle Department, although several detachments carried out missions there as well. The Northern Department and the Highlands Department remained as distinct commands but operated in close conjunction with the Main Army. The Northern Department normally contained the equivalent of a reinforced brigade; the Highlands Department, a reinforced division. The Eastern Department kept watch over the British in Newport with a field army of New England militia and state troops reinforced by one or more Continental brigades. The newest territorial department, established in 1777, was the Western Department. It protected the western frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, but it received only two regiments in 1778 and remained a minor command.83 Through 1778 the Southern Department contained essentially only Georgia and South Carolina units.
By July 1779 the Continental Army had achieved the status of a competent, well-trained force. Excluding the two thousand or so effectives in the Southern Department and a handful of regiments in isolated frontier garrisons in the Northern and Western Departments, Washington had about 25,000 officers and mend The Main Army and the Highlands Department consisted of thirteen brigades stationed near New York and four engaged in Maj. Gen. John Sullivan's expedition against Indians in the Mohawk Valley. The infantry contingents available for combat in each of these 17 brigades averaged about 65 officers, 80 sergeants, 50 drummers and fifers, and 1,000 rank and file. The aggregate infantry strength included 107 field, 737 company, and 260 staff officers, 1,409 sergeants, and 871 drummers and fifers fit and present with their regiments. Another 78 field, 629 company, and 51 staff officers and 492 sergeants, drummers, and fifers were sick, held prisoner, or detached. Nearly 14,000 rank and file were on duty with the line companies; most of the 2,600 others "on command" served with the Light Corps. Less than 2,000 rank and file were sick. The force in Rhode Island contained 142 infantry officers and 2,255 enlisted men. Artillery with the Main Army and the Highlands and Eastern Departments accounted for another 200 or so officers and almost 2,000 men. Together, these troops represented a sizable
81. Fitzpatrick, Writings, 15:101-3, 362-63; Idzerda,
82. Lamb Papers (Knox to Lamb, 22 Aug 80); Gates Papers (Lovell to Gates, 23 May 77).
83. JCC, 7:247-49; Fitzpatrick, Writings, 11:439-41; 12:200-201; Reuben Gold Thwaites and Louise Phelps Kellogg, eds., Frontier Defense on the Upper Ohio, 1777-1778 (Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society; 1912), pp. 1-3.
84. RG 360, National Archives (Lincoln to Congress, 1 Sep 79); RG 93, National Archives (Monthly Return, Main Army, Jul 1779). Lesser, Sinews, pp. 124-26, prints a variation of this return.
combat force, although they probably totaled only half the authorized strength. Congress' policy of using line officers to perform staff duties at echelons above the regiment, a measure designed to cut costs, diverted 13 field and 209 company officers, a significant reduction of Washington's resources in battle. Doctrine and training maximized the usefulness of the troops that Washington and Congress did have, but quota deficiencies remained a pressing problem.
After Monmouth, units in the northern half of the country saw limited combat. Various successful engagements between portions of the Main Army and the enemy underscored the value of the professional skills that Washington and Steuben had nurtured. In 1779 operations against the Iroquois Indians by General Sullivan and a nighttime bayonet assault on Stony Point demonstrated the Army's flexibility. The battles at Springfield, New Jersey, in 1780, moreover, proved conclusively that a single brigade with a self-contained organization could successfully stand off a superior force until the rest of the Main Army could arrive.85
On 18 January 1778 Capt. Johann Heinrichs of the Hesse-Cassel Jaeger Corps commented in a letter to the Hessian Minister of State that the continentals were not "to be despised [for it only] requires Time and good leadership to make them formidable."86 His observation was prophetic, for the Continental Army came of age between 1778 and 1780. Regiments trained by Washington and Steuben continued to suffer from shortages in personnel, but they fought well under a variety of conditions. The Army's organization achieved sophistication; its leadership down to the company level grew experienced, tough, and competent. The "Europeanization" of the Continental Army reflected the contributions of foreign volunteers and also the wisdom of Washington and other American leaders in selecting only those concepts that would work in America.
85. Washington's use of the brigade in this manner was
identical to the prescribed role of the division in Guibert's writings
and of the corps in Napoleon's operations.
86. Johann Heinrichs, "Extracts From the Letter-Book of Captain Johann Heinrichs of the Hessian Jaeger Corps, 1778-1780," trans. Julius F. Sachse, Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 22 (1898):137-40.