126. Lafayette. The most famous of the men who came from Europe to fight in the army of Washington was Lafayette. He was a young French nobleman, and had inherited great riches.
When he heard of the battle of Lexington, and how the American farmers had beaten the king's regulars, he made up his mind to go to help them. In order to do this Lafayette fitted out a vessel at his own expense, and with eleven other officers including De Kalb set sail for America.
The Congress made Lafayette a general in the Continental army, and the next day he was presented to General Washington. Very soon he was in the battle of Brandywine, where he was wounded while trying to rally his troops. After he got well, he became interested in Indian affairs and went with General Schuyler to an Indian council. He gave the Indians money and goods, and reminded them of their warm friendship for France.
Again, Washington put him in command of a part of his army at Valley Forge. He took part in several battles with the British, the most important one being that of Monmouth. Lafayette now went to Rhode Island to help the patriots in that section. For work there Congress gave him a vote of thanks.
p231 In 1779, he was welcomed home by his family. Through his influence France sent Rochambeau over with six thousand troops to help the Americans.
On Lafayette's return to America Washington sent him to Virginia to face Lord Cornwallis, who had just come from North Carolina. After receiving more soldiers Lafayette followed Cornwallis to Yorktown. Here, we remember, Washington with his aid caught Cornwallis in his "mouse trap."
The year after peace Lafayette came back to America to visit Washington. There were great times at Mount Vernon. Washington, Lafayette, and other noble men sat around the table and there told stories of their struggles and of their triumphs.
Lafayette visited many other places and received a warm welcome wherever he went.
A few years after his return to France, the people of that country rose and overthrew their king. Lafayette was made commander-in‑chief of the National Guard. The king and queen were placed under his protection. He promised the people that the king and queen would not run away. They did try it, but were caught and brought back.
p232 Both the mob and the king and queen blamed Lafayette. His command was taken from him and he fled from France, intending to come to the United States; but he was seized and imprisoned by orders from the government of Austria.
Washington wrote letters asking that Lafayette be sent to the United States. Many others wrote in his behalf, but the ruler of Austria was hard-hearted. It was not until many years afterward that the great Napoleon made peace with Austria, and set him free.
In 1824 he came to the United States upon invitation from President Monroe, and in the White House celebrated his sixty-sixth birthday with great ceremony. He made visits to every state in the Union. Eleven new states had entered the Union which he had fought to establish. Lafayette was welcomed in the new states as well as in the old. He visited all the Revolutionary battlefields, and wept over the grave of Washington at Mount Vernon, and over that of his own brave De Kalb at Camden, South Carolina.
p233 Before Lafayette went home Congress voted him two hundred thousand dollars and twenty-four thousand acres of land. He returned to France in the ship "Brandywine," bearing the gratitude and love of every American.
He died in 1834, and was followed to the grave by a vast body of people. He left a son named after George Washington, and two daughters, one of whom was called Virginia. A monument to Lafayette, given by the school children of America, was placed in a beautiful park of Paris at the time of the great French Exposition.
127. The Drillmaster of the American Army. Baron von Steuben was born in Prussia. When but fourteen he served as a volunteer soldier under his father.
In the Seven Years' War, 1756 to 1763, he was an officer on the staff of Frederick the Great, of Prussia, one of the greatest generals that ever lived.
After the war he was made a teacher of young officers, and spent much time in training and drilling them. He visited Paris, and there met Benjamin Franklin. Steuben decided to come to America and cast in his lot with people fighting for liberty.
He reached New Hampshire in 1777 and made his way to Washington's army. Like Lafayette and De Kalb, Steuben served without pay.
p234 Washington's army lay in camp at Valley Forge. It seemed a very poor army, indeed, to one who had been a soldier in the splendid army of Frederick the Great.
Washington made Steuben inspector-general of the army. He immediately prepared a book of tactics. He remodeled the whole army, and taught the soldiers how to use the bayonet. The British had been charging on the American soldiers with fixed bayonets. Up to this time the Americans could not stand and face an oncoming line of bayonets, but after Steuben's lessons on how to make a bayonet charge, the Americans were ready for the British. At Monmouth, at Camden, at Stony Point, and at Yorktown, the Steuben bayonet charge brought glory to the Americans.
At the close of the war Steuben had spent all his fortune in buying food and clothing for his soldiers. Congress voted him two thousand five hundred dollars per year, and the state of New York granted him sixteen thousand acres of land in Oneida County.
He loved his adopted country so well that he remained here till he died, in 1794.
128. The liberty-loving Kosciuszko. Tadeusz Kosciuszko was born in Poland in 1746, of noble parentage, and was educated for a soldier. He became captain in the army of Poland.
When the Americans began to fight for liberty, he came to help them, bringing with him letters from Benjamin Franklin (1775). He was made a colonel of engineers, and took service with the army of the North, then preparing to meet the British army under General Burgoyne.
Kosciuszko prepared the fortifications of Bemis Heights, where was fought one of the great battles of the war. He also planned the forts at West Point. At the close of the Revolution Congress gave him a vote of thanks and made him a general.
He then returned to Poland and fought bravely against the Russians and the Prussians, who overran Poland and divided it between them.
Kosciuszko was captured and imprisoned by the Russians. When released from prison the czar offered him his own sword. Kosciuszko refused to take it, saying, "I have no need of a sword, I have no country to defend."
Afterwards he visited the United States and received many proofs of the love and respect of the American people.
Kosciuszko died in Poland, in 1817. A monument was erected to his memory at West Point.
129. The Commander of a Famous "Legion." Casimir Pulaski was born in Poland in 1748. His father before him was a patriot, and fought nobly for his country.
Before coming to America Pulaski was commander-in‑chief of the army of Poland against the Austrians and Russians, when he met them in battle on many a hard-fought field.
Pulaski was in France in 1776, and Benjamin Franklin sent him to America. He came in 1777, and joined Washington's Army. After the battle of Brandywine Congress made him a brigadier-general and gave him command of the cavalry.
In 1778 he was ordered to raise a Pulaski Legion. This company grew so rapidly that he was compelled to make three companies of foot soldiers and three of cavalry. They were indeed a fine body of troops, who were selected for their skill in horsemanship or for their boldness in fighting. Many of the leaders were foreigners like Pulaski himself. They became famous as a body of fighters and were often chosen by Washington to do some difficult and very dangerous service.
Pulaski took his legion to Charleston, South Carolina. He attacked the British, and although he was beaten, he held the place till reinforcements came to his rescue.
p237 In the same year, 1779, he joined his forces to those of Count D'Estaing, the commander of the French fleet and forces, for a combined attack on the city of Savannah. Count Pulaski was selected to lead the American and the French cavalry. The British gunners, behind their fortifications, mowed down Americans and Frenchmen, and Pulaski fell, mortally wounded, far from his home and native land.
Lafayette laid the corner stone of the monument to Pulaski at Savannah, which was built by patriotic citizens of Georgia.
130. A Brave Old Veteran. Among the men who came to America with young Lafayette was Baron De Kalb, already nearly sixty years old, but brave and sturdy.
The parents of Johann Kalb were poor country people in Germany. In 1748 he entered the service of France, whereupon he began to be known as Baron De Kalb. The King of France sent De Kalb to the colonies in the time of the quarrel between England and the colonists over the Stamp Act, to discover whether there were signs of growing independence.
He was with Washington and his army all through the terrible winter at Valley Forge. Afterwards he was sent south in command of the brave Maryland and Delaware Continentals to aid General Gates in beating Cornwallis. The troops which De Kalb commanded had been trained by Steuben and by himself and were the finest in Washington's army.
In the battle of Camden, both Gates and Cornwallis started out before daylight in order to surprise each other. General Gates and the militia ran away at the first fire and left De Kalb with his Continentals to stem the tide. His horse was shot from under him, but undaunted De Kalb placed himself at the head of his men, and fighting on foot led them in a terrible bayonet charge. His brave Continentals were completely surrounded. He himself was wounded eleven times, and two out of every five of his heroic men fell. Three days after the battle the noble De Kalb breathed his last.
p239 The citizens of South Carolina, loving his memory and admiring his heroic deeds, in after years erected on the battlefield of Camden a monument to his memory. Lafayette on the occasion of his second visit to America (1825) laid the corner stone of this monument.
The Leading Facts. 1. The battle of Lexington aroused Lafayette and others to come to America. 2. Lafayette was wounded at the battle of Brandywine, went to Rhode Island to help the patriots there, and returned home to influence the King of France to send Rochambeau to America. 3. Lafayette prepared the way for the capture of Cornwallis. 4. Lafayette took part in the French Revolution, returned to America in 1824, and received many tokens of affection. 5. Baron von Steuben, a drill master of Frederick the Great, came to America and drilled Washington's troops. 6. Steuben spent all his fortune on his soldiers, and the state of New York gave him sixteen thousand acres of land in appreciation of his services. 7. Kosciuszko, a Polish patriot, p240 came to America and prepared the forts at Bemis Heights, and also the forts at West Point. 8. Pulaski fought against Russia for Poland, came to America, commanded a famous "legion," and was slain at Savannah. 9. De Kalb, already a veteran, came with Lafayette; he made a famous charge at Camden, where he was mortally wounded.
Study Questions. 1. Who came with Lafayette to help the Americans? 2. In what battles did Lafayette fight before the Cornwallis campaign? 3. Where was he sent after his return from France? 4. What social gathering took place at Mount Vernon in the year after the peace was made? 5. How was Lafayette finally released from imprisonment? 6. How old was Lafayette when he came for his last visit and what men were dead that he loved? 7. How many states did he visit? 8. Whose graves did he visit? 9. How did Congress testify its love for Lafayette? 10. How old was Steuben when he was made a general? 11. Who got Steuben to come to America? 12. What proof can you give of his generosity? 13. What made the army seem so poor at Valley Forge? 14. What great lesson did Steuben teach the American soldier? 15. Where did the American soldier show the British soldier an example of Steuben's bayonet charge? 16. How did Congress and New York show their love for Steuben?
20. What were Pulaski's experiences before coming to America? 21. Who sent him to America? 22. Tell the story of Pulaski's famous Legion. 23. Read Longfellow's poem, "Hymn of the Moravian Nuns at Bethlehem." 24. Who built a monument to Pulaski and who laid the corner stone? 25. Tell the story of De Kalb before he came to America. 26. Tell the story of the "brave De Kalb and his Continentals" at Camden. 27. Who built him a monument? 28. Why did Lafayette go so far to lay the corner stone?
Suggested Readings. Lafayette: Glascock, Stories of Columbia, 114‑126; Blaisdell and Ball, Hero Stories from American History, 199‑216; Cooke, Stories of the Old Dominion, 308‑318; Brooks, True Story of Lafayette.
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