Baron Von Steuben

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The Prussian Baron von Steuben, being a newcomer to the
Revolutionary cause in America, was in a position to see
many of the deficiencies in military discipline and their
causes. The reasons for his unique insight may have been
due to the fact that he was distanced from the revolutionary ideals in America, and as a result, was able to better observe and understand them; and ultimately use them to shape his
new and successful form of discipline in the Continental
Army. Most of the commanders of the Continental Army,
from the commander in chief to the lower officers had
subscribed to the traditional European method that relied on fear to achieve discipline. This method of fear was probably not essential, and had little if any effect in the early days of the war because the soldiers were mostly fighting for their

own ideologies. To the soldiers, the commanders were of
little importance. The soldiers were going to fight their own fight, and leave the battle when they felt it necessary. The soldier saw himself as a volunteer, a citizen fighting in a
group of citizens, and as a result did not respond well to the traditional forms of discipline. The soldier knew it wasnÕt necessary for him to serve, and he knew that he would not
be looked down upon for not serving or leaving the army by
his fellow revolutionaries. He had the freedom to chose how
he wished to serve the revolution, and military service was
not an obligation. One aspect of the traditional European
system that Baron von Steuben felt needed change was the
relationship between the officers and the soldiers. Officers in the Continental Army felt it was necessary to distance
themselves from the common soldiers, as an officer had an
obligation as a gentleman as well. This division was along
social lines, and by separation, the officers felt the common soldiers would show even greater respect. Royster describes
this accurately by saying that the officers tried Òto make
themselves haughty...
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