Inspector General in the Continental army.
Captain in the Prussian army (1761). The King of Prussia’s aide-de-camp and staff officer. Chamberlain at the Court of Hohenzollern-Hechingen (1764).
Given the rank of baron and named a knight of the Margrave of Baden’s Order of Fidelity. An acquaintance of the comte de St. Germain, France’s Minister of War, who introduced him to Beaumarchais (1777).
Beaumarchais in turn introduced him to Silas Deane and Franklin. In his letter of recommendation to Washington, Franklin gave the captain a more prestigious rank and introduced him as a lieutenant general.
Arrived in America in December 1777. Undertook the training of the army at Valley Forge. Appointed Inspector General with the rank of major general (1778). Prepared his Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States (1778-79), a manual of military instruction and procedure that was popularly known as the “blue book.”
Washington’s representative with the Continental Congress in the efforts to reorganize the army (1779-80). Placed in command of the army of Virginia (1780). Assisted Washington in the preparation of a plan for the demobilizing the Continental army (1783), later published under the title of A Letter on the Subject of an Established Militia (1784).
Played a major role in the formation of the Society of the Cincinnati. Honorably discharged from the army (1784). A citizen of Pennsylvania (1783) and New York (1786).
Born in Magdeberg, Germany.