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Hessians ( or ) were German soldiers who served as
auxiliaries Auxiliaries are personnel that assist the military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (po ...
to the
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' us ...
during the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colonies, thirteen American colonies of British America in Continental Congress ...
. The term is an American
synecdoche A synecdoche ( , from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10. ...
for all Germans who fought on the British side, since 65% came from the German states of
Hesse-Kassel The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel (german: Landgrafschaft Hessen-Kassel), spelled Hesse-Cassel during its entire existence, was a state in the Holy Roman Empire that was imperial immediacy, directly subject to the Emperor. The state was created in ...
and Hesse-Hanau. Known for their discipline and martial prowess, around 30,000 Germans fought for the British during war, comprising a quarter of British land forces. While regarded, both contemporaneously and
historiographically Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who studies and writes about the p ...

historiographically
, as mercenaries, Hessians were legally distinguished as
auxiliaries Auxiliaries are personnel that assist the military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (po ...
: whereas mercenaries served a foreign government on their own accord, auxiliaries were soldiers hired out to a foreign party by their own government, to which they remained in service. Auxiliaries were a major source of income for many small and relatively poor German states, typically serving in wars in which their governments were neutral. Like most auxiliaries of this period, Hessians served with foreign armies as entire units, fighting under their own flags, commanded by their usual officers, and wearing their existing uniforms. Hessians played a key role in the Revolutionary War, particularly in the northern theater. They served with distinction in many battles , most notably at and
Fort WashingtonFort Washington may refer to: Events * Battle of Fort Washington, during the American Revolutionary War Places United States * Fort Washington, a sub-post of Fort Adams, Mississippi, near Washington in the Mississippi Territory * Fort Washington, ...
. The added manpower and skill of German troops greatly sustained the British war effort, though it also outraged colonists and increased support for the Revolutionary cause. The use of "large armies of foreign mercenaries" was one of the
27 colonial grievances The grievances is a section from the Declaration of Independence where the colonists listed their problems with the British government, specifically George III. The United States Declaration of Independence contains 27 grievances against the ...
against
King George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1820) was King of Great Britain and of Monarchy of Ireland, Ireland from 25 October 1760 until Acts of Union 1800, the union of the two kingdoms on 1 January 1801, after which he wa ...

King George III
in the
United States Declaration of Independence The United States Declaration of Independence is the pronouncement adopted by the Second Continental Congress The Second Continental Congress was a meeting of delegates from the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known a ...

United States Declaration of Independence
, while the Patriots used the deployment of Hessians to support their claims of British violations of the colonists' rights.


Origin and history

The use of foreign soldiers was not unusual in 18th-century Europe. In the two centuries leading up to the American Revolution, the continent was characterized by constant warfare, and military manpower was in high demand.
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
was not yet a unified nation, but a collection of several hundred states loosely organized under the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
. Conflict between and among these nations led to the creation of professional armies, which were consequently experienced and well trained. Many German societies became militarized, with most men undergoing annual training from adolescence well into adulthood, often serving for life or until they were too old. German states varied considerably in size and wealth, and several came to rely on their troops as an economic resource, especially since sustaining a standing army was costly. When military conflict broke out, as it often did in Europe, German states provided a ready supply of trained troops prepared to go into action immediately. Hesse-Kassel soon emerged as the most prominent source of soldiers. To field a large professional army with a relatively small population, it became the most militarized state in Europe: 5.2 to 6.7% of its population was under arms in the 18th century—with one in four households having someone serving in the army—a larger proportion than even heavily-militarized
Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...
. Whereas Prussia relied partly on mercenaries from other German states, Hesse-Kassel employed only ''Landeskinder,'' native men. The military was the dominant force in the country. All Hessian males were registered for military service at the age of seven, and from the age of 16 until 30, had to annually present themselves to an official for possible recruitment. Only those whose occupation was considered vital to the country could be exempt. Those deemed "expendable", such as
vagrants Vagrancy is the condition of homelessness without regular employment or income. Vagrants (also known as vagabonds, rogues, tramps or drifters) usually live in poverty and support themselves by begging, waste picker, scavenging, petty theft, t ...
and the unemployed, could be conscripted at any time. Hessian military service was notably strict and demanding, emphasizing iron discipline through draconian punishment. However, morale was generally high, and soldiers were said to take pride in their service. Officers were usually well-educated, and in contrast to most European armies, promoted on the basis of merit. Soldiers were paid relatively high wages, and their families were exempt from certain taxes. Although
plunder Looting is the act of stealing, or the taking of goods by force, in the midst of a military, political, or other social crisis, such as war, natural disasters (where law and civil enforcement are temporarily ineffective), or rioting. The proc ...
was officially forbidden, it remained common practice (as in most military forces at the time), offering another incentive for service. Overall, Hessian troops were considered superb fighters, even by their opponents. The Hessian military became a major source of economic strength. Hesse-Kassel manufactured its own weapons and uniforms, and its textile industry was so prosperous from supplying the military that workers could afford to buy meat and wine every day. The revenue from renting the army to the British equaled roughly 13 years' worth of taxes, allowing the ''
Landgrave Landgrave (german: Landgraf, nl, landgraaf, sv, lantgreve, french: landgrave; la, comes magnus, ', ', ', ', ') was a noble title Traditional rank amongst European royalty, peers, and nobility Nobility is a social class normall ...
'' of Hesse-Kassel,
Friedrich II Frederick II, Frederik II or Friedrich II may refer to: * Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (1194–1250), King of Sicily from 1198; Holy Roman Emperor from 1220 * Frederick II of Denmark (1534–1588), king of Denmark and Norway 1559–1588 * Frede ...
, to reduce taxes by one-third between the 1760s and 1784. A self-styled
enlightened despot Enlightened absolutism (also called enlightened despotism or enlightened absolutist) refers to the conduct and policies of European Absolute monarchy, absolute monarchs during the 18th and early 19th centuries who were influenced by the ideas of th ...
, he also oversaw public-works projects, administered a public welfare system, and encouraged education. American historian
Edward Jackson Lowell Edward Jackson Lowell (October 18, 1845 in Boston – May 11, 1894 in Cotuit, Massachusetts) was a United States (Massachusetts) lawyer and historian. Biography Lowell graduated from Harvard College in 1867. After his graduation, he spent several ...

Edward Jackson Lowell
lauded
Friedrich II Frederick II, Frederik II or Friedrich II may refer to: * Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor (1194–1250), King of Sicily from 1198; Holy Roman Emperor from 1220 * Frederick II of Denmark (1534–1588), king of Denmark and Norway 1559–1588 * Frede ...
for spending British money wisely, describing him as "one of the least disreputable of the princes who sent mercenaries to America". Well before the American Revolutionary War, Hessian soldiers were familiar in battlefields across 18th-century Europe. In most of these wars, Hesse-Kassel was never formally a
belligerent A belligerent is an individual, group, country, or other entity that acts in a hostile manner, such as engaging in combat Combat (French language, French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violence, violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill ...
. While its troops remained members of the Hessian military, and even fought in their national uniform, they were hired out for service in other armies, without their government having any stake in the conflict. Thus, Hessians could serve on opposing sides of the same conflict. In the
War of the Austrian Succession The War of the Austrian Succession () was the last Great Power conflict with the House of Bourbon, Bourbon-Habsburg Monarchy, Habsburg dynastic conflict at its heart. It occurred from 1740 to 1748 and marked the rise of Kingdom of Prussia, Prus ...
, both Britain and Bavaria employed Hessian soldiers against one another; in the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain and Kingdom of France, France. In Europe, the conflict ar ...
, the forces of Hesse-Kassel served with both the Anglo-Hanoverian and the
Prussian Prussia, , Old Prussian Distribution of the Baltic tribes, circa 1200 CE (boundaries are approximate). Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages The Indo-Europ ...
armies against the French; although Hesse-Kassel was technically allied to Britain and Prussia, her troops were actually leased by the British. Nevertheless, the practice of lending out auxiliaries did sometimes result in direct consequences. In July 1758, during the course of the Seven Years' War, most of Hesse-Kassel, including its capital, was occupied by a French army under
Charles de Rohan, Prince of Soubise Charles de Rohan (16 July 17151 July 1787), duke of Rohan-Rohan, seigneur of Roberval, Oise, Roberval, and marshal of France from 1758, was a military man, and a minister to the kings Louis XV of France, Louis XV and Louis XVI of France, Louis XVI. ...
, which easily overcame the home defence force of 6,000 Hessian
militia A militia () is generally an army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-b ...
men. Soubise ordered his troops to live off the land, take high-ranking hostages, and extort payments of cash and produce, with the intention of forcing Hessian troops to withdraw from the war. Hessian and allied forces attempted to liberate their homeland, but were repulsed at the Battle of Sandershausen on 23 July. Following two sieges of Cassel, in 1761 and
1762 Events January–March * January 4 Events Pre-1600 *46 BC – Julius Caesar fights Titus Labienus in the Battle of Ruspina. *871 – Battle of Reading (871), Battle of Reading: Æthelred of Wessex and his brother Alfred ...
, the capital was retaken, which constituted the last military action of the war.


"Mercenaries" versus "auxiliaries"

The characterization of Hessian troops as "mercenaries" remains controversial over two centuries later. American history textbooks refer to them as "mercenaries", and they are still widely perceived as such in the popular imagination of the United States. American historian Charles Ingrao describes Hesse as a "mercenary state" whose prince rented out his regiments to fund his governmental expenditures. By contrast, British historian Stephen Conway referred to them as "auxiliaries". Canadian military historian Rodney Atwood notes that, contrary to some Revolutionary propaganda and perceptions, Hessians would not have been considered mercenaries at the time, but rather auxiliaries; whereas mercenaries served foreign prince in an individual capacity, auxiliaries served their own ruler, on whose behalf they were sent to aid another prince. Hessians would not be categorized as mercenaries under modern international law.
Protocol I Protocol I is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions The Geneva Conventions are four , and three additional , that establish for humanitarian treatment in war. The singular term ''Geneva Convention'' usually denotes the ag ...
(1977) to the
Geneva Convention upright=1.15, Original document as PDF in single pages, 1864 The Geneva Conventions are four treaties A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in international law International law, also known as public ...
defines a mercenary as "any person who ... has not been sent by a State which is not a Party to the conflict on official duty as a member of its armed forces." Hessian troops served in America on official duty from the armed forces of Hesse-Cassel and Hesse-Hanau. Protocol I also requires a mercenary to be "promised, by or on behalf of a Party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party." While not formally incorporated into the British military, Hessian troops were paid the same wages as British soldiers.


Service during the American Revolution

Great Britain maintained a relatively small
standing army A standing army is a permanent, often professional, army. It is composed of full-time soldiers who may be either career soldiers or conscripts. It differs from Military reserve force, army reserves, who are enrolled for the long term, but activate ...
, so it found itself in great need of troops at the outset of the American Revolutionary War. Several German princes saw an opportunity to earn extra income by hiring out their regular army units for service in America. Their troops entered the British service not as individuals, but in entire units, with their usual uniforms, flags, equipment, and officers. Methods of recruitment varied according to the state of origin. The contingent from Waldeck was drawn from an army based on universal conscription, from which only students were exempt. Other German princes relied on long-service voluntary enlistment supplemented by conscription when numbers fell short. Many princes were closely related to the British
House of Hanover The House of Hanover (german: Haus von Hannover), whose members are known as Hanoverians, is a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ...
and were comfortable placing their troops under British command. A total of 29,875 German troops fought alongside British troops in the Revolutionary War, of which 16,992 came from Hesse-Kassel and 2,422 from Hesse-Hanau. Other contingents came from
Brunswick Brunswick is the historical English name for the German city of Braunschweig (Low German: ''Brunswiek'', Braunschweig dialect: ''Bronswiek''). Brunswick may also refer to: Places and other topographs Australia * Brunswick, Victoria, a suburb of ...
(4,300),
Ansbach-Bayreuth The Principality or Margraviate of (Brandenburg-)Ansbach (german: Fürstentum Ansbach or ) was a principality in the Holy Roman Empire centered on the Franconian city of Ansbach. The ruling House of Hohenzollern, Hohenzollern princes of the land ...
(2,353),
Anhalt-Zerbst Anhalt-Zerbst was a district in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It is bounded by (from the north and clockwise) the districts Potsdam-Mittelmark (Brandenburg) and Wittenberg (district), Wittenberg, the city of Dessau and the districts of Köthen (distric ...
(1,119), and Waldeck (1,225). As the majority of the German troops came from Hesse, Americans use the term "Hessians" to refer to all German troops fighting on the British side.


Deployment

Hessian troops included ''Jägers'',
hussar A hussar ( , ; hu, huszár, pl, huzar, sr, хусар, husar, hr, husar) was a member of a class of light cavalry, originating in Central Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. The title and distinctive dress of these horsemen were sub ...

hussar
s, three artillery companies, and four battalions of
grenadier A grenadier ( , ; derived from the word ''grenade A grenade is an explosive weapon An explosive weapon generally uses to project and/or from a point of . Explosive weapons may be subdivided by their method of manufacture into explosive ...

grenadier
s. Most infantrymen were ''chasseurs'' (
sharpshooter A sharpshooter is one who is highly proficient at firing firearms or other projectile weapons accurately. Military units composed of sharpshooters were important factors in 19th-century combat. Along with "marksman A marksman is a person who ...

sharpshooter
s),
musketeer A musketeer (french: mousquetaire) was a type of soldier equipped with a musket. Musketeers were an important part of early modern warfare particularly in Europe as they normally comprised the majority of their infantry. The musketeer was a prec ...

musketeer
s, and
fusilier Fusilier is a name given to various kinds of soldiers; its meaning depends on the historical context. While fusilier is derived from the 17th-century French language, French word ''fusil'' – meaning a type of flintlock musket – the term has b ...
s. Line infantry was armed with muskets, while the Hessian artillery used the three-pound cannon. The elite ''Jäger'' battalions used the ''Büchse'', a short, large-caliber rifle well-suited to woodland combat. Initially, the typical regiment was made up of 500 to 600 men. Later in the war, due to death in battle, death by disease, and general desertion to settle in the Colonies, the regiments may have been reduced to only around 300 to 400 men. The first Hessian troops to arrive in North America landed at
Staten Island Staten Island () is a borough A borough is an administrative division in various English language, English-speaking countries. In principle, the term ''borough'' designates a self-governing walled town, although in practice, official use o ...

Staten Island
, New York on August 15, 1776. Their first engagement was less than two weeks later, in the
Battle of Long Island The Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn and the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, was an action of the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and ...

Battle of Long Island
, the first major battle in the war. Hessians proved decisive to the British victory, and subsequently fought in almost every battle that year. By 1777, the British used them mainly as
garrison Garrison (from the French ''garnison'', itself from the verb ''garnir'', "to equip") is the collective term for any body of troop A troop is a military sub-subunit, originally a small formation of cavalry, subordinate to a Squadron (cav ...

garrison
and patrol troops. Hessians fought at the
Battle of Bennington The Battle of Bennington was a battle of the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Col ...
, the turning point of the
Saratoga campaign The Saratoga campaign in 1777 was an attempt by the British high command for North America to gain military control of the strategically important Hudson River The Hudson River is a river that flows from north to south primarily through ea ...
. Around 1,000 Hessians were defeated, killed, and captured by a raw, untrained militia force from
Vermont Vermont () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Vermont
,
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...

New Hampshire
, and
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
. General
John Burgoyne General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral ...

John Burgoyne
lost 1,000 of his 8,000 soldiers at Bennington, and the loss of so many Hessians doomed his army later. An assortment of Hessians fought in the battles and campaigns in the southern states during 1778–1780 (including ), and two regiments fought at the
Siege of Yorktown The siege of Yorktown, also known as the Battle of Yorktown, the surrender at Yorktown, or the German battle (from the presence of Germans in all three armies), beginning on September 28, 1781, and ending on October 19, 1781, at Yorktown, Virgi ...
in 1781. Hessians also served in
Nova Scotia ) , image_map = Nova Scotia in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , official_lang = English (''de facto'') , RegionalLang = French, Scots Gaelic , capital ...

Nova Scotia
for five years (1778–1783), where they protected the colony from American privateers, such as during the 1782 Raid on Lunenburg. They were led by Baron Oberst Franz Carl Erdmann von Seitz, who is commemorated in a church in Halifax. Notwithstanding their reputation as skilled and disciplined fighters, many British soldiers shared the American distrust of Hessians, who often spoke little or no English and were perceived as crude and barbaric. Hessians, for their part, spoke out against executions of captured
prisoners of war A prisoner of war (POW) is a non-combatant Non-combatant is a term of art Jargon is the specialized terminology associated with a particular field or area of activity. Jargon is normally employed in a particular Context (language use), co ...
after the Battle of Long Island, especially since many were of German descent; one Hessian is quoted as saying, "many among them were Germans, and that cut me doubly to the heart". One American woman spoke to the Hessians of her reappraisal of them after the battle, as they refused to take part in any
plundering Looting is the act of stealing, or the taking of goods by force, typically in the midst of a military, political, or other social crisis, such as war, natural disasters (where law and civil enforcement are temporarily ineffective), or rioting. ...
: "she saw very plainly there was no truth in what people had told her of the Hessians, namely that they were cruel".


American attitudes

Americans, both Revolutionaries and Loyalists, often feared the Hessians, believing them to be rapacious and brutal mercenaries. The American Declaration of Independence, written roughly a year after hostilities broke out, condemned King George III of "transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to ompletethe works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation." Throughout the war, reports of plundering by Hessians were said to have galvanized neutral colonists to join the Revolutionary side. 's
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the Thirteen Colonies and the Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, and was established by a resolution of ...
had crossed the Delaware River to make a surprise attack on the Hessians in the early morning of December 26, 1776. In the
Battle of Trenton The Battle of Trenton was a small but pivotal American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen C ...

Battle of Trenton
, the Hessian force of 1,400 was quickly overwhelmed by the Continentals, with only about 20 killed and 100 wounded, but 1,000 captured. The Hessians captured in the Battle of Trenton were paraded through the streets of Philadelphia to raise American morale; anger at their presence helped the Continental Army recruit new soldiers. Most of the prisoners were sent to work as farmhands. By early 1778, negotiations for the exchange of prisoners between Washington and the British had begun in earnest. These included Nicholas Bahner(t), Jacob Trobe, George Geisler, and Conrad Grein (Konrad Krain), who were a few of the Hessian soldiers who deserted the British forces after being returned in exchange for American prisoners of war. These men were both hunted by the British for being deserters and by many of the colonists as a foreign enemy. Throughout the war, Americans tried to entice Hessians to desert the British, emphasizing the large and prosperous
German-American German Americans (german: Deutschamerikaner, ) are Americans Americans are the citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. ...
community. The U.S. Congress authorized the offer of land of up to 50 acres (roughly 20 hectares) to individual Hessian soldiers who switched sides. British soldiers were offered 50 to 800 acres, depending on rank. Many Hessian prisoners were held in camps at the interior city of
Lancaster, Pennsylvania Lancaster, ( ; Pennsylvania German language, Pennsylvania German: ''Lengeschder'') also known as the Red Rose City is a city in South Central Pennsylvania, that serves as the county seat, seat of Pennsylvania's Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, L ...
, home to a large German community known as the
Pennsylvania Dutch The Pennsylvania Dutch (), translated from German to English as Pennsylvania Germans, are a cultural group formed by German immigrants settling in the state of Pennsylvania Pennsylvania ( , elsewhere ; pdc, Pennsilfaani), officially t ...
. German prisoners were subsequently treated well, with some volunteering for extra work assignments, helping to replace local men serving in the Continental Army. After the war, many POWs never returned to Germany and instead accepted American offers of religious freedom and free land, becoming permanent settlers – one of which was the fifth great grandfather of American actor
Rob Lowe Robert Hepler Lowe (; born March 17, 1964) is an American actor, producer, and director. He made his acting debut at the age of 15 with ABC ABC are the first three letters of the Latin script known as the alphabet. ABC or abc may also refer ...
. By contrast, British prisoners were also held in Lancaster, but these men did not respond favorably to good treatment and often tried to escape. After the war ended in 1783, some 17,313 German soldiers returned to their homelands. Of the 12,526 who did not return, about 7,700 had died; some 1,200 were killed in action, and 6,354 died from illnesses or accidents, mostly the former. About 5,000 German troops, most of whom had been press-ganged or conscripted in their countries of origin, opted to settle in either the United States or Canada.


Commanding officers

*
Wilhelm von Knyphausen Wilhelm Reichsfreiherr von Innhausen und Knyphausen Some documents produced after 1806 referred to him as Reichsfreiherr Wilhelm zu Innhausen und Knyphausen while some documents after 1919 use Wilhelm Reichsfreiherr zu Innhausen und Knyphausen. ...

Wilhelm von Knyphausen
* Oberst Franz Carl Erdmann Freiherr (Baron) von Seitz – led the regiment in the
Battle of Fort Washington The Battle of Fort Washington was fought in New York on November 16, 1776 during the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was ...
Colonel of the Hesse Cassel Garrison Regiment Von Seitz – see Hessian (soldiers). The Baron fought in the American Revolution, particularly on 16 November 1776, he captured Fort Washington; 1776–1778, Garrisoned New York; 1778–1783, Garrisoned Halifax. See "The Hessians of Nova Scotia" by John H Merz and Winthrop P. Bell entitled, "A Hessian conscript's account of life in garrison at Halifax at the time of the American Revolution". ''Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society'', Volume 27, 1947 * Oberst
Johann Rall Johann Gottlieb Rall (also spelled Rahl) (December 27, 1776) was a Germans, German colonel best known for his command of Hessian (soldier), Hessian troops at the Battle of Trenton during the American Revolutionary War. Early life and education Ra ...
, commanding officer of the Hessian forces at the
Battle of Trenton The Battle of Trenton was a small but pivotal American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen C ...

Battle of Trenton
*Lieutenant General Friedrich Wilhelm von Lossberg, as Colonel led the von Lossberg Regiment (Alt) at the attle of White Plainsand ort Washington He served in ewportfrom 1776 until 1779 and played a decisive role at the attle of Rhode Island In May 1782 upon the departure of Lieutenant General Knyphausen, Lossberg replaced him as the commander of the Hessian troops in North America.


Units

;Infantry *Hesse-Cassel Jäger Corps (''Hessisches Jägercorps zu Pferd und zu Fuß'') *Fusilier Regiment von Ditfurth (''Füsilier-Regiment "von Ditfurth"'') *Fusilier Regiment Erbprinz, later (1780) Musketeer Regiment Erbprinz (''Füsilier-Regiment "Erbprinz"''; ''Infanterie-Regiment "Erbprinz"'') *Fusilier Regiment von Knyphausen (''Füsilier-Regiment "von Knyphausen"'') *Fusilier Regiment von Lossberg (''Füsilier-Regiment "von Lossberg"'') *Grenadier Regiment von Rall, later (1777) von Woellwarth; (1779) von Trümbach; (1781) d'Angelelli (''Grenadier-Regiment "von Rall"''; ''"von Woellwarth"''; ''"von Trümbach"''; ''"d'Angelelli"'') * Hesse-Hanau Free Corps * Hesse-Hanau Jägers * Hesse-Hanau Regiment ''Erbprinz'' *Merged grenadier battalions (from grenadier companies of several fusilier and musketeer regiments): **1st Battalion Grenadiers von Linsing **2nd Battalion Grenadiers von Block (later von Lengerke) **3rd Battalion Grenadiers von Minnigerode (later von Löwenstein) **4th Battalion Grenadiers von Köhler (later von Graf; von Platte) *Garrison Regiment von Bünau (Garrisons-Regiment) *Garrison Regiment von Huyn (later von Benning) *Garrison Regiment von Stein (later von Seitz; von Porbeck) *Garrison Regiment von Wissenbach (later von Knoblauch) *Leib Infantry Regiment (Leib-Infanterie-Regiment) *Musketeer Regiment von Donop * Musketeer Regiment von Trümbach (later von Bose (1779)) *Musketeer Regiment von Mirbach (later Jung von Lossberg (1780)) * Musketeer Regiment Prinz Carl *Musketeer Regiment von Wutgenau (later Landgraf (1777)) * First Light Infantry Battalion; * Second Light Infantry Battalion; * First Formation Infantry Battalion; * Second Infantry Battalion; * Third Formation Infantry Battalion; * Fourth Formation Infantry Battalion; * Fifth Formation Infantry Battalion; * Sixth Formation Infantry Battalion; * Seventh Formation Infantry Battalion; * Eighth Formation Infantry Battalion; ;Cavalry: * First Dragoon Cavalry Regiment (1804–1812, red jacket); change to the First Light Dragoon Cavalry Regiment (1812–1816, blue jacket) * Second Dragoon Cavalry Regiment (1805–1812, red jacket); change to the Second Light Dragoon Cavalry Regiment (1812–1816, blue jacket) * First Hussar Regiment; * Second Hussar Regiment; * Third Hussar Regiment; ;Artillery and engineers * Hesse-Cassel Artillery corps (Artillerie-Korps) * Hesse-Hanau Artillery * King of England and German engineers


In popular culture

*The
Hessian fly #REDIRECT Hessian fly The Hessian fly or barley midge, ''Mayetiola destructor'', is a species of Diptera, fly that is a significant pest of cereal crops including wheat, barley and rye. Though a native of Asia it was transported into Europe and la ...

Hessian fly
, a significant pest of cereal crops, was named after its supposed arrival in North America in Hessian soldiers' straw bedding. *
Washington Irving Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859) was an American short-story writer, essayist, biographer, historian, and diplomat of the early 19th century. He is best known for his short stories "Rip Van Winkle ''Rip Van Winkle'' st ...

Washington Irving
's story "
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow ''The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'' is a Gothic fiction, gothic story by American author Washington Irving, contained in his collection of 34 essays and short stories titled ''The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.'' Written while Irving was livin ...
" (1820) includes a celebrated figure known as the "
Headless Horseman The Headless Horseman is a myth Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology) ...
" who is "the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War." He has been portrayed in many dramatic adaptations of the story. *
D. W. Griffith David Wark Griffith (January 22, 1875 – July 23, 1948) was an American film director. Widely considered as the most important filmmaker of his generation, he pioneered financing of the feature-length movie. His film ''The Birth of a Nation ...
co-wrote and directed the short film, ''
The Hessian Renegades ''The Hessian Renegades'' is a 1909 American silent film, silent drama film directed by D. W. Griffith. Plot A young soldier during the American Revolution has the mission to carry a crucial message to General Washington but he is spotted by a ...
'' (1909), about the early stages of the
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colo ...
. *In the
Merrie Melodies ''Merrie Melodies'' is an American animation, animated series of comedy short films produced by Warner Bros. starting in 1931, during the golden age of American animation, and ending in 1969. As with its partner series, ''Looney Tunes'', it featu ...
short ''
Bunker Hill Bunny ''Bunker Hill Bunny'' is a 1950 Warner Brothers ''Merrie Melodies'' theatrical cartoon short, starring Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam as a Hessian (soldier), Hessian mercenary in the American Revolution. It was directed by Friz Freleng, Isadore 'Fri ...
'' (1950), set during the Revolutionary War,
Bugs Bunny Bugs Bunny is an animated cartoon character, created in the late 1930s by Warner Bros. Cartoons, Leon Schlesinger Productions (later Warner Bros. Cartoons) and Voice acting, voiced originally by Mel Blanc. Bugs is best known for his starring ro ...
faces off against Hessian soldier Sam von Schamm. *The final episode of the cartoon series ''
The Super 6 ''The Super 6'' is an animated cartoon Animation is a method in which figures are manipulated to appear as moving images. In traditional animation, images are drawn or painted by hand on transparent celluloid sheets to be photographed and exhi ...
'' (1967) features Capt. Zammo in "The Hessians Are Coming" where, after a parody of
Paul Revere Paul Revere (; December 21, 1734 O.S. (January 1, 1735 N.S.)May 10, 1818) was an American silversmith A silversmith is a metalworking, metalworker who crafts objects from silver. The terms ''silversmith'' and ''goldsmith'' are not exact ...

Paul Revere
's midnight ride, Captain Zammo and Private Hammo are dispatched to zip back in time to 1776 and report to General George Washington to foil the malicious machinations of the marauding invaders. *The 1972 novel ''
The Hessian ''The Hessian'' is a 1972 novel by Howard Fast set in the time of the American Revolution. Plot The book begins with an incident in 1781 when a small detachment of Hessian (soldiers), Hessian (German auxiliaries in the British service) soldiers e ...
'', by
Howard Fast Howard Melvin Fast (November 11, 1914 – March 12, 2003) was an American novelist and television writer. Fast also wrote under the pen names E. V. Cunningham and Walter Ericson. Biography Early life Fast was born in New York City. His mother, ...
, concerns a young Hessian drummer who is executed in reprisal for the mistaken hanging of an autistic villager by his officer. *In the television series '' Turn: Washington's Spies'', Hessians are depicted in season one as participating in the
Battle of Trenton The Battle of Trenton was a small but pivotal American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen C ...

Battle of Trenton
and meet
Abraham Woodhull Abraham Woodhull (October 7, 1750January 23, 1826) was a leading member of the Culper Spy Ring The Culper Ring was a network of spies active during the American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known ...

Abraham Woodhull
in New York. *The PBS cartoon series, ''
Liberty's Kids ''Liberty's Kids'' (stylized on-screen as ''Liberty's Kids: Est. 1776'') is an American animated historical fiction television series produced by DIC Entertainment, originally broadcast on PBS Kids from September 2, 2002, to April 4, 2003, with r ...
'', featured Hessians as members of the British Army in several episodes, with the episode, "The Hessians are Coming" ending with several Hessian troops deserting to the American side.


References


Further reading

* Atwood, Rodney. ''The Hessians: Mercenaries from Hessen-Kassel in the American Revolution'' (Cambridge University Press, 1980), the standard scholarly history * Crytzer, Brady J. ''Hessians: Mercenaries, Rebels, and the War for British North America'' (2015)
excerpt
* * Fetter, Frank Whitson. “Who Were the Foreign Mercenaries of the Declaration of Independence?” ''Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography'', vol. 104, no. 4, 1980, pp. 508–513
online
* * Ingrao, Charles. "'Barbarous Strangers': Hessian State and Society during the American Revolution", ''American Historical Review'' (1982) 87#4 pp. 954–97
in JSTOR
* Ingrao, Charles W. ''The Hessian mercenary state: ideas, institutions, and reform under Frederick II, 1760–1785'' (Cambridge University Press, 2003) * Krebs, Daniel. "Useful Enemies: The Treatment of German Prisoners of War during the American War of Independence," ''Journal of Military History'' (2013), 77#1 pp 9–39. * * Mauch, Christof. ""Images of America—Political Myths-- Historiography: 'Hessians' in the War of Independence", ''Amerikastudien'' (2003) 48#3 pp 411–423 * * Miller, Ken, ''Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities during the War for Independence'' (Cornell Univ. Press, 2014
online review
* Neimeyer, Charles Patrick. ''America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army'' (1995
complete text online
* Rogers, Alec D. "The Hessians: Journal Of The Johannes Schwalm Historical Association" ''Journal of the American Revolution'' (2018
Online


Primary sources

* Winthrop P. Bell, ed. "A Hessian conscript's account of life in garrison at Halifax at the time of the American Revolution". ''Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society'', Volume 27, 1947 * Johann Conrad Döhla. ''A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution'' (1993) * * Valentine C. Hubbs, ed. ''Hessian journals: unpublished documents of the American Revolution'' (Camden House, 1981), translation of the Von Jungkenn manuscripts. * Huth, Hans, Carl Emil Curt von Donop, and C. V. Easum. "Letters from a Hessian mercenary." ''Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography'' 62.4 (1938): 488-501
online


External links




Johannes Schwalm Historical Association website

Historical Project: Letters by a Hessian Officer
Marburg University The Philipps University of Marburg (german: Philipps-Universität Marburg) was founded in 1527 by Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, which makes it one of Germany's oldest universities and the oldest still operating Protestant university in the worl ...

Diary and letters covering the role of Hessian troops in America
{{DEFAULTSORT:Hessian American Revolutionary War Combat occupations Hesse Hessian military personnel of the American Revolutionary War German units in British service in the American Revolutionary War