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German Regiments of the War of the American Revolution

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  • German Regiments of the War of the American Revolution

    I thought this might be helpful for anyone interested in the German auxiliary regiments that served in North America and Gibraltar during the Revolution:

    German Units in the War of the American Revolution

    Hesse-Kassel:

    Infantry Regiments:

    -Du Corps (Lieb Regiment): Fought at Fort Washington, White Plains, Brandywine and Germantown. Thereafter stayed in New York.
    -Erbprinz: (Crown Prince), fought at Fort Washington and stationed there until going to Virginia in 1781, serving at Yorktown.
    -Prinz Karl: Musketeer Regiment, fought at White Plains. Sent to Newport in late 1776, and then back to New York in 1777. Sent to Charleston in 1779 and returned to New York in 1782.
    -Von Ditfurth: Fusilier regiment, fought at Fort Washington and White Plains and was then stationed in New York. Part of the Charleston garrison from 1779-1782 and then returned to New York.
    -Von Donop: Musketeer regiment, fought at Fort Washington, and in New Jersey in 1777. Fought at both Brandywine and Germantown. Returned to New York with the army in 1778 and remained stationed there until 1783.
    -Von Lossberg: Fusilier Regiment, served at Fort Washington and White Plains and was part of the Trenton garrison. Survivors put into Combined Regiment von Loos and was later reorganized to its original status. Went to New York, then to Quebec.
    -Von Knyphausen: Fusilier regiment, fought at Fort Washington and White Plains. Part of the Trenton garrison, surprised and defeated. The survivors returned to New York and were assigned to the Combined Regiment von Loos for the 1777 campaign. Reformed with its old name in late 1777. Sent to Quebec and then back to New York.
    -Lieb: Fought at Fort Washington and White Plains and then sent to Rhode Island, returning to New York May 1777. Fought at Brandywine and Germantown and returned to New York in 1778, remaining there in the garrison.
    -Von Turmback: In 1778 became the Musketeer Regiment von Bose. In New York in 1776 and then to east Florida in 1778 and served at the siege of Savannah. Sent to Charleston in late 1779 fought at Stono Ferry, Guilford Courthouse, and Eutaw Springs. Sent to Virginia and surrendered at Yorktown.
    -Von Mirbach: Musketeer regiment, fought at Brandywine and Red Bank and returned to New York in late 1777. Became the Musketeer Regiment Jung von Lossburg in 1780.
    -Von Rall: Became Grenadiere Regiment von Wollwarth from 1776-1778, Grenadiere Regiment von Trumback from 1778-1780, and thereafter Grenadiere Regiment d'Angelelli to the end of the war. Fought at Fort Washington and White Plains. Lost heavily at Trenton and the survivors were assigned to the Combined Battalion von Loos for the 1777 campaign. After returning to New York the old designation was restored and the unit split into two battalions. Sent to east Florida in late 1778 and fought in the defense of Savannah. Sent to Charleston in 1780 and returned to New York in 1782.
    -Von Wutginau: Became the Musketeer Regiment Landgraf after arrival in New York in 1776. Became the Lieb Regiment in 1783. Fought at Fort Washington, and then sent to Newport, returning to New York in 1779 and remained there.
    Garrison Regiments:
    -Von Huyn: Became Garrison Regiment von Benning in 1780. Fought at Fort Washington and was then sent to Newport in November 1776. Returned to New York and then sent to Charleston as part of the garrison. Returned to New York in 1780.
    -Von Stein: Became Garrison Regiment von Seitz in 1778 and then Garrison Regiment von Porbeck in 1783. Fought at Fort Washington and was then sent to Halifax where it spent the rest of the war.
    -Von Wissenbach: In 1780 became the Garrison Regiment von Knoblach. Fought at Fort Washington. Sent to east Florida and then to Savannah in late 1778. Fought at Stono Ferry and a detachment was sent to St Augustine. The regiment returned to New York in 1782.
    -Von Bunau: Served at Newport in 1776. Returned to New York and remained there to the end of the war.
    Grenadier Battalions:
    -1st Battalion von Linsingen: Made up of two companies of grenadiers from the Hessian Guard Regiments and fought at Brandywine, Germantown, and Red Bank. Returned to New York with the army and was then sent to Charleston in November 1779. Returned to New York in 1782.
    -2d von Block: Formed from the grenadier companies from the Hesse-Kassel infantry regiments and was sent to Philadelphia in 1777. They fought at Red Bank and returned to New York with the main army in 1778. Sent to Charleston in 1779 they returned to New York in 1782.
    -2d von Lengerke: Formed from the grenadier companies from the Hesse-Kassel infantry regiments and was sent to Philadelphia in 1777. They fought at Red Bank and returned to New York with the main army in 1778. Sent to Charleston in 1779 they returned to New York in 1782.
    -3d von Minnigerode: In 1779 became 3d Battalion Grenadiere von Lowenstein. Fought at Fort Washington, Brandywine, Germantown, and Red Bank. Returned to New York with the field army, then to Charleston in 1780 and back to New York in 1782,
    -4th von Koehler: Name changed to 4th Battalion Grenadiere von Graff in 1777 then to 4th Battalion Grenadiere von Platte in 1782. Fought at Fort Washington and participated in the Amboy, New Jersey raid and the attacks on Fort Clinton and Mongomery.

    Artillery:

    -3 Companies: Served in detachments with Hesse-Kassel regiments throughout the war.

    Hesse-Hanau:

    Infantry:

    -Erbprinz Regiment: Served in the Saratoga campaign and was surrendered with the rest of the army.
    -Light Infantry Frei Korps: Raised for service in North America and was stationed in New York for the war.

    Artillery: Served with the Erbprinz Regiment and was surrendered with it.
    -One Company-served with the Hesse-Hanau infantry regiment.

    Brunswick:

    Infantry Regiments:

    -Prinz Frederik: Saratoga campaign. Most of the regiment stayed at Fort Ticonderoga. The small detachment of the regiment which continued on the campaign was surrendered at Saratoga. Those at Ticonderoga returned to Canada.
    -Von Riedesel: Musketeer regiment surrendered at Saratoga.
    -Von Specht: Musketeer Regiment surrendered at Saratoga.
    -Von Rhetz: Sent to Quebec upon arrival in North America and took part in the operations around Lake Champlain. Surrendered at Saratoga and the survivors were sent to the Regiment von Ehrenkrook in the Trois Rivieres are of Canada until 1783.
    -Von Ehrenkrook: Formed from survivors of the Saratoga campaign and then assigned as garrison troops in the area around Trois Rivieres, Canada.
    -Von Barner: This regiment was formed from survivors of the Saratoga campaign as well as new recruits. It served in Canada in garrison for the remainder of the war.

    Grenadier Battalions:

    -von Breymann: This unit was composed of the grenadier companies of the Brunswick regiments in Canada. Served in the Saratoga campaign and was surrendered.

    Cavalry:

    -Dragoon Regiment Prinz Frederik: Served in the Saratoga campaign. A detachment was lost at Bennington, the rest of the regiment was surrendered at Saratoga.

    Anspach-Bayreuth:

    Infantry Regiments:

    -1st Anspach: In Philadelphia and New York 1777-1778. Newport in 1778; returned to New York in 1779. Virginia and Yorktown in 1781.
    -2d Bayreuth: Same as above.

    Artillery:

    -One Company: Served with the two infantry regiments from Anspach-Bayreuth.

    Anhalt-Zerbst:

    -Anhalt-Zerbst Infantry Regiment: Spent the war in New York and Canada.

    Waldeck:

    Infantry:

    -3d Waldeck Infantry Regiment: Fort Washington and Staten Island in 1776. Pensacola 1778-1781 and interned when Pensacola was taken by the Spanish. Paroled to New York in 1782.

    Artillery:

    -A small two-gun detachment that served with the 3d Waldeck Infantry Regiment.

    Jagers:

    Hesse-Cassel:
    -One Battalion (five foot companies and one mounted company): Served either in detachments or larger units throughout the war.

    Hesse-Hanau:

    One Company.

    Anspach-Bayreuth:

    -One Battalion of three companies:

    Brunswick:

    -One company: see below.

    -One Battalion: Light Infantry Battalion von Barner which served in the Saratoga campaign and was surrendered at the conclusion of the campaign. Apparently, the battalion was composed of assorted Brunswick light companies as well as the Brunswick jager company.

    Hanover:

    Infantry Regiments:

    -Von Reden: Served at the siege of Gibraltar.
    -Von Hardenberg: Served at the siege of Gibraltar.
    -La Motte: Served at the siege of Gibraltar.
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
    Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
    To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

  • #2
    More on the Hessians of the War of the Revolution:

    Some eyewitness accounts of German units in combat at Freeman's Farm and Germantown:

    'The entire line of [the American] regiments faced about…The musket fire was at once renewed, and assumed lively proportions, particularly the platoon fire from Riedesel's left wing. Presently, the enemy's fire, though very lively at first, suddenly ceased. I advanced about sixty paces, sending a few rounds after the flying enemy, and firing from twelve to fifteen shots more into the woods into which they had retreated…about fifteen minutes afterwards darkness set in.'
    -Georg Pausch, commander of the Hesse-Hanau artillery company in Burgoyne's army remarking on the action of Freeman's Farm.

    'I followed them until they reached the Barracks, whence the Hessian Grenadiers had been just marched out, smoking their pipes and marching at a steady pace on their way to Germantown. They were soon passed by the British Grenadiers, who took the Fourth Street road and were out of sight long before the Hessians were out of view…These troops, though slow, were invincible in battle and hard to beat.'-Jacob Mordecai remarking on the German grenadiers of the Battalion von Linsing at Germantown.

    'The enemy sent a small detachment across the Wissahickon against out picket, but his artillery and infantry remained on the other side of the rise, from where they shot at us without knowing where we stood, because it was very foggy. After we stood almost completely still for two hours and had heard the cannonballs whiz over our heads, one of General von Knyphausen's adjutants came with the news and the order that the right wing was advancing and the corps was to move up to the Wissahickon and engage the enemy…Our attack was lively and fast; those 200 men that had come over to this side of the creek to engage our picket in the valley were thrown into the water right away, either shot, killed with the hunting sword or taken prisoner; we on the higher ground on the other hand were bombarded with artillery and small arms fire for three-quarters of an hour, because the enemy had posted, besides his riflemen, a corps of 4,000 men against us in the woods. The creek and steep hill prevented us from attacking them head-on at close range; they also had a great advantage on account of their long rifles.'
    -Lieutenant von Feilitzsch, Anspach Jagers.

    The Lieb Regiment and the Regiment von Donop 'marched to Germantown with drums beating and attacked the rebels, who took to flight immediately on simply hearing the Hessian drums.'-Journal of the Lieb Regiment.

    'Then as furious gunfire enveloped Germantown, the Leib Regiment arrived, the Rebels left many dead behind when they departed.'-Major General Daniel Stirn, commander of the Hessian Brigade.
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
    Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
    To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

    Comment


    • #3
      More on the actions at the Hollow Way in 1776; Germantown in 1777; and Springfield in 1780:

      More information on the three actions that have been discussed From The Hessians by Edward Lowell:

      The Hollow Way,122:

      'On the 16th of September a smart skirmish took place in the neighborhood of Manhattanville. Some British light infantry and two battalions of highlanders were driven back, and were in a somewhat precarious position, when the omnipresent chasseurs and grenadiers advanced to their assistance, and some other German regiments were also put in motion. Washington, fearing that the enemy were sending a large body to support their party, as was indeed the case, ordered a retreat. Of the English, two hundred and eighty were killed and wounded; of the Americans about sixty. This action, in which the latter behaved very well, and inflicted a comparatively heavy loss on the British, did much to bring back their confidence after the reverses and retreats of the preceeding days.'

      Germantown, 201-203:

      'On the 3d of October, 1777, about noon, Captain Ewald was visited by a man ('by no means a Tory, says he) whose property he had, on a previous occasion, protected from pillage. On going away the American said to him: 'My friend, be on your guard tonight and tomorrow.' Ewald took the hint, and reported to his colonel, who passed it on the headquarters. The generals took no notice of it; but we shall see from the following account that the chasseurs were ready for the attack.'

      'October 4th. It was probably the fact that General Howe had sent many detachments to Philadelphia and into Jersey, to besiege Mud Island and occupy the city, and especially the fact that he had himself received reinforcements, which moved General Washington to attack the royal army. With this intention he had left his camp at Skibback Creek, and about two o'clock this morning we received news of his approach. Lieutenant Colonel von Wurmb immediately started with the Jager Corps, reported what was going on to General Knyphausen, and occupied the bridge leading over the Visihigging (Wissahickon) Creek, near Van Doeren's house. We presently heard firing on the right wing, and about half-past three the Jager Corps was attacked by four thousand men, with four 6-pounders. So the corps was forced to leave the bridge, but took position on the hill opposite, and defended this post with its rifles, against the repeated attempts of the enemy to force it. The enemy's four cannon played constantly on the chasseurs, while out 3-pounders could not reach the enemy. Meanwhile the firing became general, and very strong on the right wing; until about nine o'clock Lieutenant General von Knyphausen sent us word that the enemy's left wing was beaten. Hereupon Lieutenant Colonel von Wurmb attacked the bridge again, and drove back the enemy both from there and from the opposite height, under a heavy fire. As the attack had to be made through a long defile, the enemy had time to retire. We, therefore, found only twenty dead, and as the chasseurs were already much fatigued, and were not supported, and as they numbered only three hundred men, no further pursuit was made.'

      'In the center of the army the enemy had fallen on the light infantry and driven it back. Lieutenant Colonel Musgrave, with the 40th Regiment, threw himself into a stone house, where the enemy stopped to attack him. They might otherwise have fallen upon our army much sooner, before it was entirely under arms. But, as it was, our army attacked them, beat them out of the town, and put them to flight…Lord Cornwallis, hearing the firing at Philadelphia, immediately ordered three battalions of grenadiers to start. He, personally, arrived in time to take part in the end of the action, but the battalions came too late.

      Two footnotes for this section are of interest. The first concerns the warning given to Ewald on 3 September and the second the Hessian involvement in the battle.

      1-'Knyphausen does not mention Ewald's warning in his report to the landgrave, but says: 'We knew nothing of all these movements of the enemy, on account of the thick fog, until after daybreak, when a patrol of Hessian chasseurs, on the left wing, a mile beyond the outposts, which stood on the other side of the bridge over the Wissahickon, fell in with about three hundred of the enemy's troops; and at the same time the outposts of the second battalion of light infantry, which stood in front of Germantown on the road to Beggarstown, were driven in.'-Knyphausen to the Landgrave, Oct. 17th, 1777. See however, Stedman's History of the American War, Vol I, p. 300. Ewald says that patrols were sent out, by orders of Colonel von Wurmb [commander of the Jager Corps], in consequence of the warning above mentioned-Belehrungen, Vol II, p. 32.'

      2-'MS Journal of the Jager Corps. Ewald says that the attack on the chasseurs was evidently a feint, and that, therefore, Knyphausen did not support them, but hastened to the assistance of the right wing-Belehrungen, ubi supra. The Americans opposed to the chasseurs were Pennsylvania militia under General Armstrong-Bancroft, Vol IX, p. 424. The chasseurs were the only Hessians heavily engaged, but the Leib Regiment and Regiment von Donop were also under fire. The former had four men wounded.'

      Springfield, 319-320:

      'On the 19th of June Sir Henry Clinton, who had just returned from Charleston with the Hessian grenadiers and detachment of chasseurs, the British grenadiers and light infantry, and the Provincial Queen's Rangers, reviewed Knyphausen's army. Preparations were made for an advance, and on the 23d four German regiments besides the chasseurs, and six regiments of Englishmen and Tories marched out towards Springfield. For a time the Americans held their ground at Connecticut Farms, but soon they fell back to the battlefield of the 7th, and the English army was drawn up on the heights on this side of Springfield. The Passaic River lay between the opposing forces, and the Americans under Major Lee, held the bridge. The Hessian chasseurs waded through the stream in the face of a brisk fire, while an English regiment charged on the bridge, and Lee was driven back to the heights beyond the town, where he joined a larger corps. The town of Springfield was occupied, and for an hour the chasseurs in the advanced guard were skirmishing with the enemy beyond it. Then the British set fire to the town and retreated. The chasseurs now formed the rear guard, and could hardly pass between the burning houses. The Americans pressed hard upon them and harassed the retreat. About two miles from Elizabethtown the chasseurs were relieved by an English regiment, and the retreat continued to Elizabethtown Point. Here the troops took up their old positions, but were, during the night, ordered to break camp and pass over to Staten Island. This was done, and the bridge of boats which had been built on the 11th between the island and the mainland was immediately broken up, one Hessian regiment remaining in the tete de pont on the Jersey shore until the operation was completed. At about three o'clock in the morning the whole army had crossed. The loss of the chasseurs during the day was considerable, 24 being killed and wounded at the attack on the bridge over the Passaic, and perhaps as many more beyond the bridge and during the retreat.'

      One footnote was used for his passage:

      'See MS journal of the Jager Corps; also Greene's report to Washington, Washington, Vol VII, p. 506 et seq., and Lord Stirling's report, Sparks's Correspondence, Vol III, p. 5.'
      We are not now that strength which in old days
      Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
      Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
      To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

      Comment


      • #4
        Lastly, from The Campaign of 1776 Around New York and Brooklyn by Henry Johnston, regarding the action at the Hollow Way:

        These are two excerpts from Johnston's book which summarize the outcome, stating it as an American victory, along with General Howe chastising the British light infantry:

        From pages 86-87:

        ‘Washington sums up the day's work succinctly : " Our troops charged the enemy with great intrepidity, and drove them from the wood into the plain, and were pushing them from thence, having silenced their fire in a great measure, when
        I judged it prudent to order a retreat, fearing the enemy, as I have since found was really the case,were sending a large body to support their party." Late in the afternoon, the troops returned to camp, rejoicing in a success they had not anticipated, and conscious of having won it at the moment it was most needed, and in a way that would give it the most effect. It was for them the welcome victory of Harlem Heights.'

        From page 88-89:
        'That the British would claim " Harlem Heights " as a victory for themselves was to be expected. The final withdrawal of our troops from the field after the pursuit, they construed into a retreat. Howe reported that " the light infantry and 42d regiment, with the assistance of the chasseurs [Yagers] and field-pieces, repulsed the enemy with considerable loss, and obliged them to retire within their works."'

        'He failed to mention that his own troops had first been driven a mile to their own lines. In his orders of the next day he entertains the highest opinion of the corps which beat back " a very superior body of the rebels," but he has cold praise for the Light Companies for pursuing Knowlton in the morning "without proper discretion" or support. Donop,
        commanding the Hessian Light Troops in the army, modestly reported: "But for my Yagers, two regiments of Highlanders and the British Infantry would have all, perhaps, been captured."'

        We are not now that strength which in old days
        Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
        Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
        To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

        Comment

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