Monday, December 22, 2008

Sodomy at Valley Forge

The following was originally posted at The War for American Independence blog. Thanks to "Nickster" for posting it! An interesting illustration of how the crime of sodomy was treated in the Continental Army. What is most interesting is how these charges took place at Valley Forge, where the man responsible for the training of the Continental troops (Von Steuben) was most likely homosexual himself. Von Steuben, who was accompanied to Valley Forge by his "handsome" 17-year-old secretary (which added fuel to the speculation that he was indeed a homosexual and possibly a boy lover), had been forced out of the Prussian Army under suspicion of homosexual activities, which was seen as a detriment to the army. At Valley Forge, however, Von Steuben proved his worth by instilling a measure of discipline that had been lacking in the Continental Army. Oops, I've gone off on a tangent haven't I! Here is the General Order condemning sodomy at Valley Forge:

Head Quarters, V. Forge, Saturday, March 14, 1778.

At a General Court Martial whereof Colo. Tupper was President (10th March 1778) Lieutt. Enslin28 of Colo. Malcom's Regiment tried for attempting to commit sodomy, with John Monhort a soldier; Secondly, For Perjury in swearing to false Accounts, found guilty of the charges exhibited against him, being breaches of 5th. Article 18th. Section of the Articles of War and do sentence him to be dismiss'd the service with Infamy. His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with Abhorrence and Detestation of such Infamous Crimes orders Lieutt. Enslin to be drummed out of Camp tomorrow morning by all the Drummers and Fifers in the Army never to return; The Drummers and Fifers to attend on the Grand Parade at Guard mounting for that Purpose.
***On a personal note, I would like to thank everyone here at American Creation for a fantastic year! I will be leaving to celebrate the holidays, so this will be my final posting for 2008. A special thanks to all the contributors, readers and subscribers of American Creation for all you have done to make this blog so much fun! Here's hoping that 2009 (and all the years to follow) will be even better! May you all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, etc.!!! We'll see you all in 2009 with more history of America's founding!!!***


Jonathan Rowe said...

Hey Lindsey. Since my post is longer than yours and since I have a whole lot of posts here, why don't you move this on top of mine so you get "top billing" as it were.

Lindsey Shuman said...

That's ok, Jon. Thanks for the offer! Have a happy holidays! See you in 09!

Our Founding Truth said...

Lindsey, Von Steuben was a Christian. David Barton, in Original Intent proves the homosexual charge against him was false.

Merry Christmas!

Raven said... there's a source for ya! Listen up everyone, Our Founding Truth has debunked this ridiculous myth surrounding the sexuality of Von Steuben. And just how did he do it you ask??? Well, he appealed to the "scholarly" "full-proof" work of none other than DAVID BARTON!!!!

OMG!!! Please tell me you are kidding here. YOu didn't just try to prove something by citing Barton did you? Are you really that stupid?

Oh, and here is a news flash: even if Von Steuben was a Christian that doesn't mean that he WASN'T a homosexual. Have you ever heard of Ted Haggard, Mr. Truth? Give me a break!

It's almost like you want everyone here to kick your historical ass!!!

Brad Hart said...

David Barton does not disprove the allegations of von Steuben's homosexuality. In fact, Barton gave zero evidence of any kind. He simply went on the attack. Now, Barton, in fairness, did a very good job of demonstrating the fact that many founders (Washington and Jefferson included) were opposed to homosexuality. Barton's book does offer a number of primary sources on this issue. However, he provides nothing but speculation, innuendo and outright B.S. when it comes to von Steuben.

Now, in fairness to OFT, I am personally unaware of any CONCRETE evident that proves von Steuben was in fact a homosexual. I guess personally I could care less if he was/was not. But purely for historical interest it would be beneficial to know what evidence is out there...for either side of the argument.

Our Founding Truth said...

he provides nothing but speculation, innuendo and outright B.S. when it comes to von Steuben>

Original Intent p. 305 destroys the homosexual label to von Steuben. Revisionist Randy Shilts makes the accusation against von steuben. Shilts cites John Palmer but not his conclusion.

Palmer: If the story was credited at one time by the Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen, he was evidently convinced later of its falsity and cruel injustice..the Baron was eventually restored to his affectionate regard."

He also talks about the framer' prohibition on homosexuals in the military as Shilts claims Steuben was.

Steuben was a Protestant in a Catholic court, so this rumor was probably started by an enemie.

Jonathan Rowe said...
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Jonathan Rowe said...
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Jonathan Rowe said...

The problem is that Barton is worse of a revisionist than Shilts ever could dream to be.

For a fair source, I'd suggest Richard Brookhiser's latest which suggests indeed that Von Steuben was probably homosexual.

David Barton's meanderings are worth nothing on the matter.

Gary Kowalski said...

Glad to see a lively discussion of our Founders' faith. As the author of Revolutionary Spirits: The Enlightened Faith of America's Founding Fathers (BlueBridge, New York, 2008), I write my own blog on issues pertaining to church, state, and the role of spirituality in public life. I'd be happy to be listed among the resources on your site, or have to create a link to my own blog,

Jonathan Rowe said...


I'll check out your blog and please feel free to enter the discussion at some point.

Narcissus Nick said...

Our Founding Truth said: "Lindsey, Von Steuben was a Christian. David Barton, in Original Intent proves the homosexual charge against him was false." Very silly assertion here!!
There have always been homosexuals who were Christians! Sorry, I don't see a contradiction!
And, clearly, none of you have read any of the letters being sent among Steuben, Willy North and Ben Walker; you can read them in William Benemann, Male-Male Intimacy in Early America: Beyond Romantic Friendships Haworth Press, 2006

Jonathan Rowe said...

I understand the notion that if one is a practicing homosexual, one isn't really a "regenerate" born against Christian. However, there have been plenty of folks who call themselves Christian and have been homosexuals. The same King James who comissioned the King James Bible was, if I am not mistaken a homosexual.

The problem for OFT is that Von Steuben most likely was homosexual and he has no proof (none that I have seen) that Steuben was an orthodox Trinitarian Christian who thought of himself as "regenerate" or "born-again" which EXACTLY how OFT defines the word "Christian."

He likes to see born-again Christians where none exist.

Narcissus Nick said...

Lockhart, in The Drillmaster of Valley Forge, describes von Steuben as being raised a Calvinist..., "spent little or no time with the Bible or devotional work..." and was drawn to Catholicism's creed. pp.11-12. Lockhart. So, I would think he was a Protestant with some serious Caholic leanings/sympathies. And you know what the Protestants always accused the Catholics of: sodomy!

Anonymous said...

Some of them were Deists, believing in the existence of a God or Supreme Being but denying "revealed" religions (such as Christianity), instead basing their belief on the light of nature and reason. Some were Unitarians. Unitarianism is the belief that God exists in one person, not three: it denies the deity of Christ, the personhood of the Holy Spirit, eternal punishment, and the vicarious atonement of Jesus. Unitarianism is obviously not Christian.
So while they all believed in "God" and "His Providence", and thoroughly appreciated the moral teachings of Jesus, not one of these men was a Christian, and some of them had some pretty scathing things to say about the Christian religion, as you will see. (Jefferson and Franklin, as you might expect, are particularly juicy.)

GEORGE WASHINGTON: a Deist, not a Christian. Said "no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny."
THOMAS JEFFERSON: a Deist. Said "In the New Testament there is internal evidence that parts of it have proceeded from an extraordinary man; and that other parts are of the fabric of very inferior minds. It is as easy to separate those parts, as to pick out diamonds from dunghills."

BEN FRANKLIN: a Deist, said (about the story of Jesus): "I apprehend it has received various corrupting changes, and I have, with most of the Dissenters in England, doubts as to his divinity."

JOHN ADAMS: a Unitarian. As President of the U.S., he signed the Treaty of Tripoli in 1797, which says "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion... it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of ... any Mehomitan nation."

THOMAS PAINE: Said "I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of…. Each of those churches accuse the other of unbelief; and for my own part, I disbelieve them all."
AMES MADISON, fourth president and Father of the Constitution, said: "Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise" and "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

ABE LINCOLN said "That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true,"

......and Von Stueben was coerced to serve by the Continental Congress for no pay. Either work or be tried for being a homo, which probably meant death. Washington was lax on the other person and just drummed him out of the Army. He could BEEN TRIED and have died. But how could you kill one and not the others? At least Washington had a conscious (and maybe a fear of retaliation). People in the past just love to write homo's right out of history, like they never existed, because it was "too uncomfortable" to write about.

Anonymous said...

1791: Pierre Charles L'Enfant, a gay man, who designed our nation's Capitol city was a Christian.

Anonymous said...

The fact that von Steuben could not get into three different militaries in Europe, that Benjamin Franklin lied about him when presenting him as a "Prussian General" should give one pause. He was actually a captain.
Von Steuben himself wrote about the charges of sexual misconduct with young boys. He wrote "I have nothing to be ashamed of for my part in the war, though it may be that an inconsiderate step and perhaps an irreconcilable enemy destroyed the expectation of a better reward."
He came to America with Peter Du Ponceau, a seventeen year old boy, who acted as his interpreter. His servant was Carl Vogel, another 17 year old boy, who was described as handsome.
Du Ponceau once wrote about Von Steuben “Once, with the baron’s permission, his aides invited a number of the young officers to dine at our quarters, on condition that none should be admitted that had on a whole pair of breeches..."
President John Adams disowned his son Charles when he moved in with von Steuben in his late teens. The President tore up every letter that his son had written him.
He was given 16.000 acres for his service and a yearly pension. He bequeathed the land to the two young aides-de-camp who he had met under Washington's command and had live with him after the war until his death.
This is just some of the evidence that shows von Steuben being a homosexual. He was also the "Father of the American Military".

Narcissus Nick said...

Thanks Beardsmen for a wonderful post! Von Steuben was such a great hero, and to deny such an intricate part of his humanity is tantamount to dehumanization! Have you read Lockhart's new book, The Drillmaster of Valley Forge? It is a good summary biography of the baron, but in some places he book lacks substantial research, especially when it is about his sexual orientation! I guess Lockhart is uncomfortable about sexual identity being imposed on eighteenth century figures, or it's what I call the 'ick factor'. See my brief review of the book at my blog:
and, a different perspective on eighteenth century history, and a post about the Baron also.