- Max R. Williams
Kalb, Johann (19 June 1721–19 August 1780), soldier of fortune and revolutionary general, was born in Hüttendorf, Bavaria, the son of Johann Leonhard Kalb and Margarethe Seitz, peasants. Covetous of adventure and glory, he left home at age sixteen with only a modest education. Little is known of Kalb in the next few years, but in 1743 he surfaced as Jean de Kalb, an officer in the Loewendal Regiment, a German contingent of the French army. Apparently he realized that a title was essential for military advancement and simply assumed one. Even more curious is the question as to how he learned English and French and took on the manners of the nobility. He must have had an ear for languages and natural graces. During the war of the Austrian succession, he participated in several sieges in Flanders while serving his regiment as a captain and ...