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The Official Manual of the Continental Army:
Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States

Soon after he took command of the American forces in 1775, Gen. George Washington recognized the need for a standardized drill manual that would bring unity and consistency to the training of the Continental troops. Through the early years of the war, Washington promoted the use of several published works, including Timothy Pickering's An Easy Plan of Discipline for a Militia and Thomas Hanson's The Prussian Evolutions, but was not until 1779 that circumstances brought the right individuals together to produce the first official manual of the Continental Army. The key was the arrival of Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin Steuben of Prussia, a former aide to Frederick the Great, who came to America in late 1777 to volunteer his services to the cause for independence. He joined General Washington at Valley Forge in February 1778 and quickly made himself indispensable in bringing new order and discipline to the troops suffering under the wretched winter conditions. Recognizing his genius as a military instructor, Washington petitioned Congress to commission Steuben to the post of inspector-general with the rank of major general.

At the close of the campaign of 1778, Washington assigned Steuben and his staff to Philadelphia to begin work on his long-desired manual of regulations for the army. The writing and editing of the work involved a laborious series of steps: Steuben, who spoke little English, wrote each passage in practical, simplified French; his staff, which included François-Louis Teisseydre de Fleury, Pierre Etienne Duponceau, and Benjamin Walker, edited it into literary French and then translated it into English. To further clarify the instructions, drawings for eight folding plates to accompany the text were prepared by another member of Steuben's staff, Pierre L'Enfant (who would later design the Society of the Cincinnati's insignia). Read More<

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