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Johann von Robais, Baron de Kalb is Born

Today in Masonic History Johann von Robais, Baron de Kalb is born 1721.

Johann von Robais, Baron de Kalb was a Bavarian-born French military officer.

De Kalb was born in Hüttendorf, Bavaria near Erlangen. He would be commissioned in the Loewendal German Regiment of the French Army. He would serve during the Seven Years War and the war of Austrian Succession.

In 1768, De Kalb would travel to America to determine the level of discontent on the part of the American colonists. During the trip he would be inspired by the "spirit of independence" that he saw in the colonies.

In 1777, De Kalb would return to the Americas, this time with his protégé the Marquis de Lafayette and the two would join the continental army. When De Kalb learned that he would not be made a major general he was very disturbed and decided to return to France. Lafayette used his influence to gain De Kalb the rank he sought.

In the winter of 1777 and 1778, De Kalb was in Valley Forge. There he would write an introduction letter to French court for John Adams. In the letter he would write:

On the whole, I have annoyances to bear, of which you can hardly form a conception. One of them is the mutual jealousy of almost all the French officers, particularly against those of higher rank than the rest. These people think of nothing but their incessant intrigues and backbitings. They hate each other like the bitterest enemies, and endeavor to injure each other wherever an opportunity offers. I have given up their society, and very seldom see them. La Fayette is the sole exception; I always meet him with the same cordiality and the same pleasure. He is an excellent young man, and we are good friends... La Fayette is much liked, he is on the best of terms with Washington.

De Kalb was assigned to command a division of Maryland troops. He would be sent south to the Carolina's as reinforcements for the troops already engaged with the British. He was disappointed again when on arriving in South Carolina when he learned that Horatio Gates would be in command instead of De Kalb. They would soon engage in the Battle of Camden which was a disastrous defeat for the continental army and Gates. During the Battle of Camden, De Kalb's horse was shot out from under him and before he could rise to his feet he was shot several times and stabbed multiple times with bayonets.

It is claimed that Cornwallis himself supervised as De Kalb's wounds were cared for. On August 19th, 1780, De Kalb would die from his wounds.

Several years later George Washington would visit the grave of De Kalb. Washington was reported to have said:

So, there lies the brave de Kalb. The generous stranger, who come from a distant land to fight our battles and to water with his blood the tree of liberty. Would to God he had lived to share its fruits!

De Kalb was a member of Pennsylvania Lodge No. 29.