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By Johannes Helmut Merz

Also creator of this List

John is retired but reads and answers some messages




The Hessians and the American Revolution

Revolutions do not start with a big bang, they are like a kettle of water slowly simmering on the stove until with increased heat it suddenly boils over. That is exactly what happened with the American Revolution, everybody saw it coming, except the British, they were utterly unprepared when finally the boiling point was reached. when the conflict started there was hardly any British military power in place in the American colonies. The few British troops stationed at Boston and New York saw themselves vastly outnumbered and in March of 1776 fled to the safe harbour of Halifax, Nova Scotia, leaving all the existing British colonies in the hands of the rebels, except of Nova Scotia, which at the time included the territory of New Brunswick, and the Province of Quebec.

The American revolutionaries, encouraged by their initial successes, invaded Canada in September of 1775 under the pretext to liberate their northerly neighbours from the tyranny of the British king. In December they had captured the City of Montreal, and advanced to the fortress of Quebec City. Only the determined defence put up by Governor Guy Carleton and his small army deprived the attackers of final success. Quebec held out against all attacks until spring of 1776, when a British fleet arrived with a large army of British and German troops.

The German troops had been hired by King George III to help to suppress the American revolution. All through the previous winter negotiations had taken place between the King's emissaries and some German princes to supply a substantial number of well trained troops to serve in America. In fact, some of the princes recognizing Britain's need for additional troops, had offered them to King George III, and after due discussions in the British parliament, treaties were signed with six individual princes to supply 20,000 men to be shipped immediately to Canada and America.

The events of the American Revolution are well known, and I do not want to repeat them here. Fact remains that of close to 30,000 German soldiers who served between 1776 and 1783 loyally for King George III in America, appr. 7,500 soldiers and officers lost their life in battle or through sickness and accidents, and another 6,000 men more or less, did not return home when the war ended. Of those 6,000, an accurate figure is impossible to establish, it is estimated that some 2,400 men wanted to stay under British rule in Canada, while the other 3,600 became new citizens of the United States of America.

There were many reasons for those soldiers to stay, one of them without doubt the fear of a long and dreadful sea voyage on little crowded sailing ships, but the most important reasons were the opportunity for a better life and freedom from oppression, and the promise of free land from the government. Many had already established good contacts with the local population and found companionship. Particularly in Quebec the churches registered a great number of marriages between German soldiers and French-Canadian brides.

Here is a breakdown of the number of men supplied to England during the American Revolution by the six German principalities (acc to Edward J. Lowell - The Hessians)


Brunswick 5723
Hesse-Kassel 16992
Hesse-Hanau 2422
Ansbach-Bayreuth 2353
Waldeck 1225
Anhalt-Zerbst 1160

Total 29875

These German Military units served in North America from 1776 to 1783

Unit Codes Prinicpality and Regiment

A-B Ansbach-Bayreuth Regiments
A-Z Anhalt Zerbst Regiment
B-1 Brunswick Dragoon Regt. Prinz Ludwig
B-2 Brunswick Musketier Regt. Prinz Friedrich
B-3 Brunswick Musketier Regt. von Riedesel
B-4 Brunswick Grenadier Battalion von Breymann
B-5 Brunswick Musketier Regt. von Specht
B-6 Brunswick Musketier Regt. von Rhetz
B-8 Brunswick Regiment von Ehrenkrook
B-9 Brunswick Regiment von Barner (Chasseurs)
B-10 Brunswick Battl. Major de Lucke (disbanded 1781)
B-? Brunswick troops (Regiment or Battl. unknown)
HAJ Hanau Jaegercorps (Chasseur Corps)
HAR Hanau Artillery Corps
HHE Hanau Regiment Erbprinz
HFK Hanau Frei Corps (The Free Corps served only in N.Y.)
K-1 Kassel Leib Infantry Regiment
K-2 Kassel Fuselier Regiment Erbprinz
K-3 Kassel Musketier Regt. Prinz Carl
K-4 Kassel Fuselier Regt. von Ditfuerth
K-5 Kassel Musketier Regt. von Donop
K-6 Kassel Fuselier Regt. von Lossberg
K-7 Kassel Fuselier Regt. von Knyphausen
K-8 Kassel Musketier Regt. von Truembach/von Bose
K-9 Kassel Musketier Regt. von Mirbach
K-10 Kassel Grenadier Regt. von Rall
K-11 Kassel Grenadier Regt. von Linsingen
K-12 Kassel Grenadier Regt. von Block/von Lengerke
K-13 Kassel Grenadier Regt. von Minnigerode
K-15 Kassel Artillery Corps
K-16 Kassel Regiment von Huyn/von Benning
K-17 Kassel Regiment von Stein/von Seitz
K-18 Kassel Gren.Battl. Koehler/Graf/Platte
K-19 Kassel Regiment von Wissenbach/von Knoblauch
K-20 Kassel Regiment von Buenau
K-22 Kassel Feldjaegercorps (Chasseur corps)
K-23 Kassel Regiment Landgraf/von Wutgenau
K-? Soldier of Kassel troops (Regiment unknown)
WAL Waldeck Regiment

Many Loyalist Military units enlisted German officers and men who had previously served with above listed German units, and had escaped from American prison camps.

Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999,2000, 2002, 2003,2004, 2005 Johannes Helmut Merz

copied to this site via permission given in an email to list subject John's Hessian Website dated 29 July 2005

This does not release John's copyrights on his material,  permission to copy any information other then facts must be received from John.

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The Bayreuther Zeitung Newspaper
No. 58, 23 March, 1802.

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