A Collection of Manuscripts Relating to General Steuben

A receipt of General Steuben with Tavern Keeper Samuel Fraunces for “An Entertainment,” December 6, 1783.

At auction in April 2022, the Institute purchased eleven unpublished manuscripts through the generosity of a private foundation. The manuscripts relate to Gen. Friedrich Wilhelm Steuben during and after the Revolutionary War. The documents range in date from 1780—around the time the French fleet arrived in Newport—to 1792, reflecting some of Steuben’s activities after the war. The common thread seems to be a connection to Steuben’s aide-de-camp (and translator) Benjamin Walker. Of special interest is Walker’s copy in English of Steuben’s analysis and recommendations to Gen. Washington about possible allied operations against the British in New York or Canada in 1780. Noting the arrival of the French expeditionary forces, Steuben observed: “The French Troops may refresh at Rhode Island… the superiority of the Enemy’s fleet is of less consequence in this Expedition than in any other….”

Among the other notable items are a detailed set of instructions for the “Maneuvers to be performed before the Ambassador of France being founded on [Steuben’s] Regulations” in 1782; a receipt of General Steuben with tavern keeper Samuel Fraunces for “An Entertainment,” December 6, 1783—including copious amounts of wine and spirits—that took place just two days before Washington’s famous farewell to his officers at a similar gathering at Fraunces Tavern; and the receipt for payment for the printing of two hundred copies of Steuben’s 1784 pamphlet A Letter on the Subject of an Established Militia, and Military Arrangements, Addressed to the Inhabitants of the United States.

Library staff are looking forward to delving into this collection to create an item-level inventory and images for the Digital Library.


Learn more about Steuben's Regulations, the first official manual of the Continental Army