1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kalb, Johann

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KALB, JOHANN (“Baron de Kalb”) (1721-1780), German soldier in the American War of Independence, was born in Hüttendorf, near Bayreuth, on the 29th of June 1721. He was of peasant parentage, and left home when he was sixteen to become a butler; in 1743 he was a lieutenant in a German regiment in the French service, calling himself at this time Jean de Kalb. He served with the French in the War of the Austrian Succession, becoming captain in 1747 and major in 1756; in the Seven Years' War he was in the corps of the comte de Broglie, rendering great assistance to the French after Rossbach (November 1757) and showing great bravery at Bergen (April 1759); and in 1763 he resigned his commission. As secret agent, appointed by Choiseul, he visited America in 1768-1769 to inquire into the feeling of the colonists toward Great Britain. From his retirement at Milon la Chapelle, Kalb went to Metz for garrison duty under de Broglie in 1775. Soon afterwards he received permission to volunteer in the army of the American colonies, in which the rank of major-general was promised to him by Silas Deane. After many delays he sailed with eleven other officers on the ship fitted out by Lafayette and arrived at Philadelphia in July 1777. His commission from Deane was disallowed, but the Continental Congress granted him the rank of major-general (dating from the 15th of September 1777), and in October he joined the army, where his growing admiration for Washington soon led him to view with disfavour de Broglie's scheme for putting a European officer in chief command. Early in 1778, as second in command to Lafayette for the proposed expedition against Canada, he accompanied Lafayette to Albany; but no adequate preparations had been made, and the expedition was abandoned. In April 1780, he was sent from Morristown, New Jersey, with his division or Maryland men, his Delaware regiment and the 1st artillery, to relieve Charleston, but on arriving at Petersburg, Virginia, he learned that Charleston had already fallen. In his camp at Buffalo Ford and Deep River, General Horatio Gates joined him on the 25th of July; and next day Gates led the army by the short and desolate road directly towards Camden. On the 11th-13th of August, when Kalb advised an immediate attack on Rawdon, Gates hesitated and then marched to a position on the Salisbury-Charlotte road which he had previously refused to take. On the 14th Cornwallis had occupied Camden, and a battle took place there on the 16th when, the other American troops having broken and fled, Kalb, unhorsed and fighting fiercely at the head of his right wing, was wounded eleven times. He was taken prisoner and died on the 19th of August 1780 in Camden. Here in 1825 Lafayette laid the corner-stone of a monument to him. In 1887 a statue of him by Ephraim Keyser was dedicated in Annapolis, Maryland.

See Friedrich Kapp, Leben des amerikanischen Generals Johann Kalb (Stuttgart, 1862; English version, privately printed, New York, 1870), which is summarized in George W. Greene's The German Element in the War of American Independence (New York, 1876).