I am retired military and the debate raging and the discussion emerging on allowing gay people to serve openly in the military has kept my attention
for a time.
I would like to say this much.During my career there were hundreds of gay men and women serving honorably in the service.
They did not flaunt it but they did not hide it either.They are there already and for the most part they are normal Americans wanting to do their
I had no issues with them and some of them the troops sought them out because they were the best in their field.
I had researched the history of this issue and by accident ran into this fine fellow.
Baron von Steuben.
Ever here of him? A quick synopsis.The beginning of the Revolt the colonists were dependent on local militia to bring the fight to the British.
These men were all out of the local area and sometimes funded by local business men.Not mercenaries but a general ragtag organization.
General Washington knew he would need one unified force and went to
great lengths to find the funds to pay arm,clothe,feed and house a unified Continental army.
And to turn them into a fighting force.
He found the perfect man when Baron von Steuben showed up in America and offered his services.
Just a short list of what this gay man did to the army.
He is credited with teaching the Continental Army the essentials of military drill and discipline, helping to guide it to victory. He wrote the
Revolutionary War Drill Manual, the book that became the standard United States drill manual until the War of 1812.
He also first implemented this too.
Steuben introduced a system of progressive training, beginning with the school of the soldier, with and without arms, and going through the school of
the regiment. This corrected the previous policy of simply assigning personnel to regiments. Each company commander was made responsible for the
training of new men, but actual instruction was done by selected sergeants, the best obtainable.
Was he concerned for the welfare of the men?
Another program developed by Steuben was camp sanitation. He established standards of sanitation and camp layouts that would still be standard a
century and a half later. There had previously been no set arrangement of tents and huts. Men relieved themselves where they wished and when an animal
died, it was stripped of its meat and the rest was left to rot where it lay. Steuben laid out a plan to have rows for command, officers and enlisted
men. Kitchens and latrines were on opposite sides of the camp, with latrines on the downhill side. There was the familiar arrangement of company and
But was he a warrior,or a "dandy"?
Perhaps Steuben's biggest contribution to the American Revolution was training in the use of the bayonet. Since the Battle of Bunker Hill, Americans
had been mainly dependent upon using their ammunition to win battles. Throughout the early course of the war, Americans used the bayonet mostly as a
cooking skewer or tool rather than as a fighting instrument. Steuben's introduction of effective bayonet charges became crucial. In the Battle of
Stony Point, American soldiers attacked with unloaded rifles and won the battle solely on Steuben's bayonet training.
But how does one know he was gay,you ask?
In 1776, Steuben's career at Hohenzollern-Hechigen ended in scandal: he was alleged to be a homosexual and was accused of improper sexual behavior
with young boys.
I didn't mention the pedophile,did I?
He also kept the company of these two fellows.
His young aide de camp Louis de Pontiere and his military secretary Pierre Etienne Duponceau
And then he met these two "gentle"men.
He never married and had no children. He left his estate to General Benjamin Walker and Captain William North, who had served as his aides-de-camp
during the war, and with whom he had had an "extraordinarily intense emotional relationship ... treating them as surrogate sons".
There you have it.If not for one determined and qualified Gay man the finest fighting force today wouldn't exist today.
Did I mention he also was a foreign immigrant that could speak little English?
Steuben spoke little English and he often yelled to his translator, "Here! Come swear for me!"
The issue should not even be an issue.If we as a country can live with people with this sexual orientation with no qualms or issues.Then they should
serve freely and proudly.
Because they already have been.