17. The regulations written by Baron von Steuben transformed the Continental soldier
Von Steuben’s Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, which described in detail how the men of the Continental Army should conduct themselves on the march and in battle, also contained detailed descriptions of how the army should establish and maintain encampments. Von Steuben ensured that the soldiers in camp, under the supervision of their officers and non-commissioned officers, took steps necessary to the preservation of health and hygiene. He directed that in clear weather tents be struck daily, with the bedding within well aired. He forbade the consumption of meals inside of tents, except during inclement weather. Under von Steuben, the company mess tent came into being.
The training provided by von Steuben is usually described as being mainly directed at the men in the ranks, but in fact he provided training as well on how officers should both lead their men and preserve their health and welfare. “The oftener the soldiers are under the inspection of their officers the better”, he wrote, “â¦see that their clothes are whole and put on properly; their hands and faces washed clean; their hair combed; their accoutrements properly fixed, and every article about them in the greatest order”. Von Steuben’s concern with cleanliness extended to camp and soldier, and many men who had bathed infrequently, if at all, were admonished that, “the men shall bathe themselves as frequently as possible”, though he recommended a period of repose first to allow the men “to get cool”.