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“The Hessians of Quebec”
GERMAN AUXILIARY TROOPS IN CANADA 1776-1783.
By Johannes Helmut Merz
(reprint with my permission, here only)
From the Principality of Braunschweig (Brunswick)
B-1 Dragoon Regiment “Prinz Ludwig”, commanded by Lt. Col. Friedrich Baum. Arrived in Quebec City in June 1776, took part in the Burgoyne Campaign aimed at splitting the revolting colonies in two, and in the Battle of Bennington, 16. Aug.1777, with many men including Lt.Col. Baum killed, the rest taken prisoner of war. A skeleton staff and sick had been left in Quebec and regiment was built up again with new recruits.Returned to Germany from Quebec City on 2 Aug 1783, after having discharged most of the soldiers foreign to the Duchy of Brunswick.
B-2 Musketier Regiment “Prinz Friedrich”, commanded by Lt.Col. Christian Julius Praetorius. Arrived in Quebec on the 1.June 1776, helped chasing the
invading American rebels out of the Province right down to Lake Champlain, returning to winter quarters near Quebec, and participated in the Burgoyne Campaign in summer of 1777. After the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, they were left there to defend this position and to act as protection for the supply lines to Canada. After the defeat of the main
army at Saratoga and after being attacked by strong rebel forces, the regiment withdrew to safe territory in Quebec, where it remained to the end of the war. It was shipped back home with the rest of the Brunswick
troops in August of 1783. Many of its soldiers were discharged in Quebec.
B-3 Musketier Regiment “von Riedesel”, commanded by Lt.Col. Ernst Ludwig v.Speth Arrived with the same Spring fleet in Quebec on 1.June 1776, took part in the Burgoyne Campaign from July 1777 to Oct. 1777, participated in
the battles of Ticonderoga, Hubbardton, Freeman’s Farm, BemisHeights and Saratoga, surrendered with Burgoyne’s army and became part of the Convention army, which first marched to the Winter Hill camp near
Boston, and a year later from Winter Hill to Charlottesville, Virginia. (see maps of march route to Boston and from Boston to Virginia.)
B-4 Grenadier Battalion “von Breymann”, commanded by Lt.Col. von Breymann.
Arrived with spring fleet in Quebec in June 1776, in 1777 with General Burgoyne’s army towards Albany. Send to help the Dragoon Regt. In their battle at Bennington in Aug.1777, suffered heavy losses on killed,
wounded and prisoners, was able to escape the ambush and return to Burgoyne army, to be again engaged in heavy fighting at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, with Lt.Col. v.Breymann being killed himself with Many of his men, and the rest captured as prisoners of war. (See Breymann’s Redoubt at the Saratoga National Park)
B-5 Musketier Regiment von Specht, commanded by Major Karl Friedr.v.Ehrenkrook. Arrived with the II. Brunswick Division in Quebec on 17 Sep 1776, and marched to Sorel and Fort Chambly. In 1777 became part of the
Burgoyne army and shared the fate of the Musketier Regt.v.Riedesel.
B-6 Musketier Regiment von Rhetz, commanded by Lt.Col. Johann G. v. Ehrenkrook. Arrived with II. Brunswick Division in Quebec on 17. Sep 1776, and in 1777 became part of the Burgoyne army. Shared the fate of the
Convention army, captured at Saratoga, marched to Winter Hill and later to Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia.
B-7 Light Infantry Battalion von Barner, commanded by Major Friedrich Albrecht von Barner. This was a newly raised Battalion of Chasseurs (Jaegers) supplemented by light Infantry from other Brunswick Regiments.
Arrived in Quebec in Sep 1776 with the II.Division. Became part of the Burgoyne army, was engaged in the Battles of Ticonderoga, Hubbardton, Freeman’s Farm, Bemis Heights, and Saratoga. Became Part of the Convention army.
B-8 Regiment von Ehrenkrook, commanded by Colonel Johann Gustavus von Ehrenkrook. Raised in Quebec from survivors of the Saratoga disaster who returned alone or in little groups, or had escaped from labour or prison camps. Disbanded in 1781 when the original Regiments were re-established after the prisoner exchange and the return of General Baron von Riedesel to Quebec. See references.
B-9 Regiment von Barner, commanded by Lt.Col. Ferdinand A. von Barner.Raised in Quebec from survivors, stragglers and escapees from Saratoga and other locations, and from new recruits coming from Brunswick. This unit did guard duty, took part in reconnaissance and other military duties to the end of the war. One of the most active military units in Quebec besides the Hesse-Hanau Chasseurs.
B-10 Battalion of Major de Lucke, this unit was put together from strays and escapees from all Brunswick units who made their way to New York. Was transported to Canada arriving in November 1781, disbanded and
the soldiers transferred to their original units.
In a report by Capt. Cleve as published in the memoires of Major General Riedesel, the strength of the Brunswick troops in America, on the 1. December 1781, was as follows:
In Canada 2520 men
Imprisoned in Virginia 1053 men
Other prisoners 325 men total 3898 men.
From the Principality of Hessen-Hanau
HHE Hessen-Hanau Regiment Erbprinz (Crown Prince), commanded by Col. Wilhelm R. von Gall, Arrived in Quebec together with the First Division of the Brunswick troops on 1.June 1776, however the troops remained on board their ships. On the 7th of June the ships continued upriver to Sorel and the Hanau troops went on land on the 16th of June. From there they marched to Laprairie on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River opposite the city of Montreal.
In June 1777 they were ordered to join the Burgoyne army and participated together with the Brunswick troops in the march to the Saratoga battlefields, and became also part of the Convention army. Only some staff plus the sick remained in Quebec, and soon new recruits and replacement arrived from Germany to strengthen the Regiment. In August 1783 the Erbprinz Regiment was shipped out of Quebec for the return home. Only soldiers who were not subject of the prince of Hanau were allowed to be discharged.Many deserted at the last moment before departure.
HAR Hessen-Hanau Artillery Corps, commanded by Captain Georg Heinrich Paeusch, left Hanau on 15 May 1776 by river boats through to Mainz and down the river Rhein to Holland, where they were loaded onto British ships for their journey to Canada. They arrived in Quebec 26 August and received orders to sail to Montreal. New Orders had
them embark at Three-Rivers, to join an expedition going to pursue the Americans on Lake Champlain. This Artillery Corps was engaged with honours at the Battle of Lake Champlain. After wintering in Montreal, the Corps was ordered to march with General Burgoyne, and after losing some canons and men at Bennington in Aug. 1777, were heavely involved in the battles of Freeman’s Farm and Saratoga, and had to surrender with the whole army of Burgoyne’s in Oct. 1777. Continued to be part of the Convention army to the end. Many men returned to Quebec and the remainders of the Corps were shipped home in Aug.1783.
HAJ Hessen-Hanau Chasseur Corps, commanded by Lt.Col. Carl Adolf v. Creutzburg. Chasseurs, also commonly called Jaegers/Yaegers, even ‘green Jaegers, four companies left Hanau before the 1.April 1777 and passed inspection at Nijmwegen, Holland on the 12 April. After a short lay-over in Newfoundland in mid-June, the last ship of the fleet docked in Quebec on the 12 July 1777. One company which had arrived earlier took part in the expedition to Fort Stanwix, and
took part in the battle of Oriskany, when they were forced to return having lost five men and much of their equipment. The
Hanau Chasseur Corps remained as garrison troops in Canada, Their strength increased by a new fifth company under Captain Hugget, which arrived in Quebec at the end of August 1779. Most of these men had signed up voluntarily for duty in America, and therefore are the only one’s which could be considered to be mercenary soldiers. Among them many experienced hunters and outdoors men, who adopted easy to the kind of life in Canada’s wilderness. Many of them after their release in Quebec joined the voyagers of the Hudson Bay and North-West fur traders. Much more research is needed to find these men.
From the Principality of Anhalt-Zerbst
A-Z Regiment Princess von Anhalt, commanded by Commanding Major Friedrich von Rauschenplatt. Arrived in May 1778 in Quebec, but were refused permission to disembark, because the Governor was not notified by the British that they were coming. These instructions came three months later, at which time the troops were allowed to disembark. This regiment only saw garrison duty and never faced any enemy action. Returned to Germany in August 1783.
From the Principality of Hessen-Kassel
K-6 Hessen-Kassel Regiment von Lossberg, commanded by Col. Von Loos, arrived in New York in August 1776, took part in all major battles around New York, and finally at the Battle of Trenton Dec.1776. Part of the Regiment escaped and re-organized at New York. In Fall of 1779 the Regiment was loaded onto ships with orders
to sail to Canada. During the voyage a hurricane hit the fleet and the ship Adamant sank with the loss of one entire company, while the two others, heavily damaged, returned to New York. After wintering in New York, they boarded ships again in May of 1780 , and a fleet of 30 vessels departed for Quebec with this regiment, and the remnants of the Kassel Regt.v.Knyphausen. There were also British troops in the convoy plus replacement recruits for the other German auxiliary troops in Quebec. This convoy arrived at the Quebec City harbour on 25.June 1780. The Lossberg Regiment disembarked on the 27. and marched to its new quarters at Beauport. On 22 August, the Lossberg, Knyphausen, and the British 44th were combined into a new Brigade and moved into camp on the Plains of Abraham. Also Moved into this camp were the British 31st, the Hanau Regiment, and two companies of the Brunswickers. This entire Contingent was placed under the Hessen-Kassel General von Loos with orders to defend the town from the west while at the same time constructing a new system of fortifications. In November 1780 the Lossberg Regiment was ordered to winter on the Isle of Orleans in the St. Lawrence. The Loos Company went to St. Pierre, the Altenbockum Company to St. Jean, and
the Scheffer Company to St. Laurent. In 1781 the regiment was re-named to Regiment Alt-von Lossberg, and on 17 Oct.
was assigned winter quarters in the towns of St. Thomas, St. Francois, St. Pierre,, and Berthier, on the south shore of the
River opposite Orleans. In April and May 1782 soldiers were sent to Quebec to work on the fortifications. On June 17, the regiment moved into summer quarters at Point Levy, opposite Quebec, and work was continued on the fortifications. On Oct. 30, 1782 the winter quarters for the regiment was assigned in the villages of St. Thomas, Cap St. Ignace, and L’Islet on the south shore of the river. On the 28. April 1783 a ship of the Royal Navy arrived in Quebec from Halifax with the news that the war was over. On June 12 the Regiment left winter quarters and moved to Point Levy, where it was learned that all German troops in Canada had been ordered to prepare to return to Europe. On August 2, the Regt. Alt von Lossberg boarded the vessels Vernon and Friends Adventure at Point Levy. Including women and children there were 303 passengers on board. On August 6th 1783, the ships set sail.
K-7 Hessen-Kassel Regiment v. Knyphausen, commanded by Col. Heinrich von Borck, according to the military files had the same history as the von Lossberg Regiment, except during the hurricane only one of the three ships carrying this Regiment made it safely to Canadian waters, however was too late in the season to reach Quebec and was forced to winter on the Prince Edward Island at Charlottetown, making its way to Quebec in Spring of 1780. The two other ships, Triton and Molly, were captured by American privateers and the soldiers taken as prisoners to Philadelphia. The remnants of the Knyphausen Regiment left Quebec in October 1781, wintering in Halifax, and returning to New York in Spring of 1782. It left New York on 15.August 1783 for the journey home and arrived in Their garrison city of Ziegenhain in Hessen on 16.Oct.1783. Most of the information on the Lossberg and Knyphausen Regiments were obtained from the Staatsarchiv Marburg Publications HETRINA II and III, and the Dissertation by Robert O. Slagle “The Von Lossberg Regiment: A Chronicle of Hessian participation in the American Revolution, 1965.
K-17 Hessen-Kassel Regiment von Stein/Seitz, commanded by Col. Franz Karl Erdmann von Seitz, was stationed from September 1778 at Halifax, Nova Scotia, until their return to Germany in 1783. Col. Von Seitz died 1782 in Halifax and is buried at the old St. George’s church. Many Seitz soldiers were discharged in Nova Scotia and settled in the Halifax – Lunenburg area. Some of them drifted later to the Province of Quebec. Most of the information is from the HETRINA IV, and my publication “The Hessians of Nova Scotia”.
The listing of all German auxiliary troops involved in the American Revolution in Canada and the 13 rebellious American colonies, now the United States of America,
will be found at the beginning of the alphabetical listing of soldiers remaining in Canada.
Where did all those Hessian soldiers come from before settling in Canada?
During my research in the settlement of German auxiliary soldiers in Canada I found many different ways these soldiers arrived in Canada to stay and settle. By the same token, a great number after initially settling in one place, decided to move on and look for greener fields, or better opportunities. There was ‘a coming and a going’, which makes tracing them rather difficult or impossible at times. Not only do we have to contend with changes in their surnames over time, mostly on account of phonetics and language difficulties, but they changed religions, and moved to other locations, at least
within the next generation. All this presents tremendous challenges, and in many cases researchers like myself and/or family researchers find themselves in front of the proverbial ‘BRICK WALL’. It is for this reason alone that we cannot focus just in one direction, we have to look in all directions, and the findings of one researcher may carry
an important piece of information which may bring some light into family mysteries.
It is for this very reason that I have collected data for names which I felt could have been Hessian in origin, tiny tidbits, and included them in my alphabetical listing of close to 4500 names. My overriding feeling was that it will not hurt to have this information, but it may help somebody to find a connection. One of my most important observations during my research was the fact that nobody hardly ever acts alone in some important mission in their lives.
It has been proven that Hessians in most cases did not desert alone from their units, they always made their escape with a comrade or two or even more. They still stuck together after finding shelter in mostly German speaking areas. They worked together, at their weddings they celebrated together, often acting as witnesses at the marriage or at baptisms. This is particularly evident in the church records of Quebec parishes/paroisses and is the greatest source of discoveries of those elusive names. It pays while reading those records to note down the witnesses and try to decipher them clearly.
Here a short description of how Hessian soldiers ended up in Quebec::
1.) Regularly and honourable discharged from their unit.
2.) Deserted from their unit without permission.
3.) After escaping from prisoner status in the USA, joined either a Loyalist or
Britsish army unit and was discharged in Canada.
4.) Escaped from prisoner status in America, found shelter with sympathizers,
married in America and moved up to Canada long after the revolution.
5.) Returned to Germany after their tour of duty in Canada, and after discharge
or desertion in Germany, returned either alone or with family to Canada.
6.) Moved to Quebec after having settled first in other Canadian provinces.
There is plenty evidence for all these possibilities, and many examples will be shown in this compilation. I want to stress once more that this piece of research is by far not complete, and I leave it to other researchers, in particular family historians, to follow up on my suggestions.
My data may be freely used by such historians to further their research, it is however expected that in every case the source of the information is quoted properly as coming from this publication. I thank you all for your compliance and co-operation.
Copyright © 1997, 1998, 1999,2000, 2002, 2003,2004, 2005 Johannes Helmut Merz
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