Lot 1032: Friedrich von Steuben
December 15, 2012
Amherst, NH, USALive Auction
Description: Prussian officer who in 1777, volunteered his services to the Continental Army (1730-1794). Appointed as Inspector General, he was responsible for transforming Washington's army into a professional force capable of meeting the British in open battle. Fine content ALS, signed "Steuben," one page, both sides, 7 x 8.75, June 1, 1784, New York, addressed in his hand on the integral transmittal leaf to "Major General Laughlin [sic] McIntosh in Georgia. "Von Steuben introduces Baron Johann Carl Philip von Krafft (1752-1804) a German soldier who had fought with the British as a mercenary during the Revolutionary War after failing to obtain a commission from George Washington in 1778.Von Steuben writes, in full, "This will be delivered you by Mr de Kraft [J. C. von Krafft] a Gentleman of an exceeding good family in Saxony who came over to this Country in the Services of the Prince of Hesse-but marrying in this place a Girl of no fortune and being on that account deserted by his Parents he has returned to this Country with the View if possible to establish himself[.] Mr de Kraft has had a good education, is well acquainted with the Military Mathematics and is an excellent Draughtsman he has some knowledge also of Civil Architectures-If in the business of Surveying land-as an engineer-or as any other line he can find employ for his talents I have no doubt he will render himself both useful and agreeable-Permit me my dear Sir to solicit your protection for him in Georgia, he wishes to establish himself in that state and if you can in any matter second his Views or afford him any assistance, I shall be such obliged to you." Intersecting folds (vertical fold passing through the signature), repairable clean split along the central horizontal fold, light soiling, and writing showing through from opposing sides, otherwise fine condition.Johann Karl Philip von Krafft (1752-1804) was born in Dresden to a career military family and was commissioned an ensign in 1773 in the Prussian army under Frederick the Great. He resigned his commission in 1776 desiring greater adventure in another army. Between 1776 and 1778 he travelled to Russia, Denmark and Quebec unsuccessfully seeking a new officer's commission with a brief service as an American privateer. Von Krafft attempted to secure a position in the Continental Army at Valley Forge in early 1778, but when he could not, he crossed the lines into British-occupied Philadelphia and joined one of the German regiments fighting for the British and saw action at Monmouth and spent the remainder of the war with Henry Clinton's army at New York. At the close of the war, he married Miss Cornelia de la Metre, who as Steuben mentions is a "Girl of no fortune" in New York. After returning with the British Army to England in 1783, he returned to America the following year where he supported his family in New York as a teacher. He then obtained a position as a surveyor and draftsman for the Treasury Department, a position he held until his death. Von Krafft's published journals, covering the years 1776 to 1784, provide a superb alternative primary resource detailing the history of the American Revolution as observed by a European.Lachlan McIntosh (1725-1806) was a Scots-born Georgia military and political leader. He is most famous for his duel with Georgia Signer Button Gwinnett. McIntosh later served as commander of the Western Department based at Fort Pitt and in 1779 he joined Benjamin Lincoln in Georgia in a failed attempt to retake Savannah from the British. He was also present at Charleston in 1780 and was taken prisoner after the city surrendered.