Did you watch last week’s WDYTYA and follow Rob Lowe’s journey of finding his ancestor that had been a Hessian soldier that fought in the American Revolutionary War? Do you have or think you may have a “Hessian soldier” in your background? Then here is a site from the Archives in Marburg, Hesse, Germany that has a database for Hessian Troops in America. First a little background on Hessian involvement in the Revolutionary War from Wikipedia.
During the American Revolution, there were many German states loosely unified under the Holy Roman Empire. Many of these German states were officially Protestant, making them traditional allies of other Protestant nations, such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain, whose king, George III, was also the Prince-Elector of Hanover. King George III came from an ethnic German line, and was the first of the House of Hanover to speak English as his first language. Great Britain formed strong German alliances during the Diplomatic Revolution of 1756, and had combined forces with Frederick the Great during the Seven Years War to form a coalition that functioned as one Army. When the British colonies in America rebelled a decade later, several German states contracted for the temporary loan of German soldiers to the British Army. Although the leasing of German soldiers to a foreign power was controversial to some Europeans, the German people generally took great pride in their soldiers’ service in the war.
Americans were alarmed at the arrival of German troops on American soil, viewing it as a betrayal by King George III. Several American congressmen declared they would be willing to declare independence if King George used German soldiers. German soldiers provided American patriots with a propaganda tool; they were derogatorily called “mercenaries,” and were referred as such in the Declaration of Independence:
“He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat [sic] the 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. ”
Despite American propaganda, contemporary writers suggested that German soldiers were well respected and well cared for, both by Americans and British. At the conclusion of the war, Congress offered incentives for German soldiers to stay in the United States. Great Britain also offered land and tax incentives for German soldiers willing to settle in Nova Scotia.
Here is the link: http://lagis.online.uni-marburg.de/en/subjects/index/sn/hetrina