• Yorktown Battlefield

    Yorktown Battlefield

    Part of Colonial National Historical Park Virginia

Captain Johann Ewald

Ewald, Johann. 1744-1813.

Author of an acclaimed book on light infantry tactics, Johann Ewald was born in Cassel in what would later become Germany. Son of a bookseller, he demonstrated an early interest in warfare and military history, and joined the infantry regiment Gilsa at the age of 16. In 1774 he was given command of the Lieb Jaeger corps. The Jaegers were recruited from the hunters and foresters of Germany. They fired a short, accurate rifle and were well known as good marksmen. The Jaegers were attached to the British army as auxilliary troops and specialized in partisan warfare. They were well respected by American troops.

Ewald was a courageous and daring officer who stressed the use of surprise and offensive maneuvers. He was a military professional who earned the respect of his superiors and subordinates. He continued to write books on military tactics until his retirement.

Ewald and the Jaegers were involved in most of the major military campaigns in North America from October 1776 until their surrender at Yorktown, winning praise for their contributions to British military successes. While on parole from Yorktown, Ewald visited West Point as the guest of General Henry Knox.

In 1785, Ewald wrote the "Essay on Partisan Warfare". In 1788 he joined the Danish army, retiring as a lieutenant general in 1813. In his diary written during the American Revolution, he wrote his personal motto:

Honor is like an island,
Steep and without a shore;
They who once leave,
Can never return.

Did You Know?

Nelson House in Yorktown

Thomas Nelson, Jr., is one of Yorktown's most famous residents. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, served as Governor of Virginia in 1781, and commanded the Virginia militia during the 1781 siege of his hometown. His home still bears damage from the bombardment during the siege.