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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin Steuben, Baron von Steuben to Richard Caswell
Steuben, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin, Baron von, 1730-1794
April 1779
Volume 14, Pages 71-72

[From Executive Letter Book.]


The reason which has determined Switzerland, as well as other Republics of Europe, to place their security in a Militia capable

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of supporting their Independency, is the want of the necessary means to maintain a Standing Army. This reason has a much greater weight in the United States, where it would be impossible to keep up armies numerous enough to defend so extensive a country from every hostile invasion, especially when the naval force of our Enemies is so much superior to our own.

It is there in our Militia that we must find the real strength which we are to oppose to that of Great Britain, and these are indeed the most respectable forces, which consist of brave citizens, who, animated by the noblest motives, defend their Country and their Liberty. Our business is, then, now to find out the means of rendering that Militia capable to supply the want of a well regulated Standing Army, at least as much as lies in our power.

These means should be simple. Uniformity in the formation, in the march, and in the motions of the Troops, and the keeping them together in order, are the most essential points.

In the composition of the first part of the regulations, which have been just published, I have established general principles as easy and as convenient for our Regiments of Militia as for the Continental Army, putting aside the manual exercise, which I look on in some part, as superfluous; the rest may be introduced without the least difficulty, and the greatest advantage will result when a body of the Militia will join the Army, as well as when it will act separately.

I am induced by this reason to address a Copy of these regulations to your Excellency, and to submit them to your judgment, and in case you are of opinion that these rules, actually introduced in our Army, may serve also for the Militia of your State, I have not only engaged with the Continental Board of War to keep copies of them in readiness for the Legislatures of the several States, who will demand them, but I expect only your Orders to request of the Commander in Chief to send you an officer capable of introducing them and giving the necessary explanations.

I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect,
Your Excelly's Mo. Ob. Servt.,
Major General.
Gov. Caswell.