Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Value of Military Discipline

You never know who will show up when you throw a Revolution. Could be a young officer, thirsting for his first success, destined to be the Father of His Country. Could be a fiery Virginian, shouting Give me Liberty or give me Death.

Or it could be a penniless, unemployed, recently discharged-for-dubious-reasons, German captain who arrives dressed in a red -and-blue British general's uniform.

Enter the man who would become General von Steuben, said to be a curious mix of "Baron Munchausen and Don Quixote".

Enter the man who would become the second most important man in the American Revolution, the first being Washington himself.

Steuben contributed the incomparable ingredient of military discipline to the ragtag Continental Army.

From General Von Steuben*:

"The progress attained seemed almost the soldiers grew in skill they grew in soldierly pride and that a new morale nevermore to be extinguished soon pervaded the ranks of the Continental Army. The army grew rapidly in numbers and in discipline at the same time. This new birth of the Continental Army as a trained fighting machine is Steuben's contribution to the history of the War for Independence."

No small contribution. Translation: If it wasn't for Steuben, we might still be British subjects.

His contemporary Alexander Hamilton stated:

"I never knew or conceived the value of military discipline till that day."

Listed this evening through Chewybooks at Amazon, this particular copy includes some interesting extras tucked inside its covers:

  • A letter from the author Brigadier General John McAuley Palmer dated January 1938, to The Steuben News, thanking them for the most kind review of his book, and ordering extra copies of the paper.
  • A letter from the Chairman of The Steuben News, attached, dated February 1938, with both letters sent to Bertha Schrader, the author of the book review and also the owner of this particular book edition (her name is written on the first loose endpaper)
  • An original newspaper clipping of the actual review Ms. Schrader wrote
  • A newpaper clipping of an eloquent plea for recognition of General Steuben, with the enigmatic dates of 1777-1927
  • The remains of the original front and rear panels of the dust jacket

All foldout maps are present and in pristine condition. Pages 206 and 331 have carefully tape-mended corner tears.

*General Von Steuben, by Retired Brigadier General John McAuley Palmer, published 1937, Yale University Press

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