Valley Forge FAQs

What kind of drill did Baron von Steuben give?

Q.What kind of drill did Baron von Steuben give to the troops and how did the troops respond to them?
Ashley Bell, New York, 8th Grade

A.Baron von Steuben was a trained, military specialist who changed the way the Continental Army worked during the American War for Independence. He did not speak English, so he used an aide to interpret for him. He streamlined the use of the firearm. He began by training a core group of soldiers and they in turn, trained the rest of the army in a descending pattern. The key: simplicity. He reduced the motions in the manual of arms to ten...the number of motions to reload to fifteen (shaving off four motions from the original nineteen). He implemented a standard pace and cadence and to keep step in a march without the use of a drum simply by watching the officer at the head of the column. You can read more about it in the copy of the Steuben drill manual, also known as the "Blue Book" it has been published in various forms, but the most accessible is "Baron von Steuben's Revolutionary War Drill Manual" The response of the troops is seen in how they performed at the Battle of Monmouth after leaving Valley Forge. They were successful!

SAS, Courtesy The Valley Forge Historical Society

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