Febiger, Christian ("Old Denmark")

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Febiger, Christian ("Old Denmark")

FEBIGER, CHRISTIAN ("OLD DENMARK"). (1746–1796). Continental. officer. Denmark and Virginia. Born at Fâborg, Denmark, in 1746, Febiger had a military education before joining the staff of his uncle, the governor of the Danish island of Santa Cruz, in the West Indies. In 1772 Febiger visited the American colonies, traveling from Cape Fear, North Carolina, to the Penobscot River, and the next year entered the lumber, fish, and horse business in Boston. When the Revolution began he joined Colonel Jacob Gerrish's Massachusetts Regiment on 28 April 1775, becoming adjutant on 19 May, and rendering valuable service at Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775. He was brigadier major during Arnold's March to Quebec, which occurred from September to November 1775, and was captured in the attack on Quebec from 31 December to 1 January. In September 1776 he went to New York with the other prisoners and was exchanged in January 1777.

Joining Daniel Morgan's Eleventh Virginia on 13 November 1776 as lieutenant colonel, Febiger fought at the Brandywine on 11 September 1777, and was promoted to colonel immediately thereafter. He was on Greene's right at Germantown on 4 October, and on 9 October 1777 took command of the Second Virginia Regiment. After he demonstrated skill in provisioning the troops at Valley Forge, General George Washington placed Febiger in charge of a brigade, which Febiger then led at Monmouth. Afterwards, Febiger commanded a regiment in General Anthony Wayne's daring night-time storming of Stony Point on 16 July 1779. Leading the attack, he was among the first over the ramparts and personally captured the British commander, taking charge after Wayne was wounded.

In August 1780 Febiger was stationed in Philadelphia with the mission of forwarding arms and supplies to the south, a duty at which he proved highly effective. He went to Virginia the next spring, assisted Morgan in quelling a Loyalist uprising in Hampshire County, served as a recruiting officer, commanded a body of newly raised Virginia Continentals under the Marquis de Lafayette, and was present at Yorktown when the British surrendered. Febiger was an effective advocate for the use of martial music to improve morale, and is often given credit for persuading Washington of its value. He retired on 1 January 1783, was brevetted brigadier general on 30 September 1783, settled in Philadelphia, went into business, was treasurer of Pennsylvania from 1789 until his death on 20 September 1796.

SEE ALSO Arnold's March to Quebec; Bunker Hill, Massachusetts.


Carp, E. Wayne. To Starve the Army at Pleasure. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.

Gamble, Robert. Orderly Book of Captain Robert Gamble of the Second Virginia Regiment Commanded by Christian Febiger. Virginia Historical Society: Richmond, Virginia, 1892.

                            revised by Michael Bellesiles