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  • Hessians in the American Revolution

    When fighting broke out between the American colonies and Mother England, George III called on his English cousins to send him some mercenaries. The Elector of Hessen-Kassel sent several regiments over, on George III's payroll, to subdue the colonies.

    This move was very unpopular, needless to say, in America, which had not yet declared its independence, and was a contributing factor, some believe, in Congress making that decision. In fact, England's hiring of foreign mercenaries is listed in the Declaration of Independence as one of George III's protestable actions.

    What do you think?

    1. Was the hiring of mercenaries a good idea or a bad one?

    2. What advantages did it bring the English? What disadvantages?

    3. What did they contribute to the war? Was it worth their hiring?

    4. What questions did I forget:quest:

    JS
    Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
    Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


    "Never pet a burning dog."

    RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
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  • #2
    My ancestor (great great great great and even greater something.) Was a hessian brought over from what is now Germany! I think he saw some action but escaped unscathed! That's how my family got started in Canada!
    There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full. -Henry Kissinger

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    • #3
      Considering that the Hessians were the only ones to lose at Trenton, which turned into a huge morale victory for the Americans, I don't know if it was necessary to bring them in. If I remember correctly, Hessians were brought in because of their expertise in forest combat since the Americans countered England's traditional army with a psudo-guerilla warfare in some cases.
      Pvt. Bob Mana,
      Co. B, 3rd Maryland Vol. Infantry, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Corps, Union Army of the Potomac

      For the Union

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      • #4
        Originally posted by PvtManaCoB3MD
        Considering that the Hessians were the only ones to lose at Trenton, which turned into a huge morale victory for the Americans, I don't know if it was necessary to bring them in. If I remember correctly, Hessians were brought in because of their expertise in forest combat since the Americans countered England's traditional army with a psudo-guerilla warfare in some cases.
        That's a non sequitur. Just because the Hessians lost one battle -- regardless of its importance -- does that mean that they should not have been there at all? I'm not sure that's valid.

        The British needed extra help and hired mercs to fight for them. I was unaware of their expertise in forest combat.

        I don't mean to sound argumentative on this. I don't have an answer one way or the other -- I'm hoping to learn something.
        Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
        Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


        "Never pet a burning dog."

        RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
        http://www.mormon.org
        http://www.sca.org
        http://www.scv.org/
        http://www.scouting.org/

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        • #5
          From what I remember of my American Revolution history, the Hessians were brought in because they were some of the most feared soldiers in the world at the time. Unfortunately I'm not sure of what their actual exploits were (I'm sure a quick search on the internet would reveal something), but a major reason they were brought in was because they were some of the best soldiers in the world. In fact, the American forces feared going up against them, which is why Trenton was so important, catching them off guard and beating the Hessians was crucial (in an open fair battle, they probably would have destroyed the continentals).
          “To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life.”

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Hessians in the American Revolution

            Originally posted by Janos
            When fighting broke out between the American colonies and Mother England, George III called on his English cousins to send him some mercenaries. The Elector of Hessen-Kassel sent several regiments over, on George III's payroll, to subdue the colonies.

            This move was very unpopular, needless to say, in America, which had not yet declared its independence, and was a contributing factor, some believe, in Congress making that decision. In fact, England's hiring of foreign mercenaries is listed in the Declaration of Independence as one of George III's protestable actions.

            What do you think?

            1. Was the hiring of mercenaries a good idea or a bad one?

            2. What advantages did it bring the English? What disadvantages?

            3. What did they contribute to the war? Was it worth their hiring?

            4. What questions did I forget:quest:

            JS
            Not much of a scholar on your War of Independance unfortunitely, but this link seems interesting.

            http://www.americanrevolution.org/hessindex.html
            http://canadiangenealogyandresearch.ca

            Soviet and Canadian medal collector!

            Comment


            • #7
              The Hesse-Kassel and Hesse-Hanau soldiers ("Hessians") weren't the only Germanic soldiers hired by George III. Burgoyne's '77 campaign included several units of Brunswick soldiers. There were also units from Anspach-Bayreuth, Waldeck, and Anhalt-Zerbst hired by the British. One of the benefits of hiring Germanic soldiers from the British perspective was that they were highly trained and disciplined, plus they had Jaegers. Jaegers were basically light infantry skirmishers armed with rifles. They were well suited for countering American riflemen, although not quite as good in forest warfare as Indians or Americans.
              "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by HiredGoon
                The Hesse-Kassel and Hesse-Hanau soldiers ("Hessians") weren't the only Germanic soldiers hired by George III. Burgoyne's '77 campaign included several units of Brunswick soldiers. There were also units from Anspach-Bayreuth, Waldeck, and Anhalt-Zerbst hired by the British. One of the benefits of hiring Germanic soldiers from the British perspective was that they were highly trained and disciplined, plus they had Jaegers. Jaegers were basically light infantry skirmishers armed with rifles. They were well suited for countering American riflemen, although not quite as good in forest warfare as Indians or Americans.
                Interesting. I was wondering how Hessen-Kassel could afford (in a military sense) to send regiments over. Most of those German principalities (small P) only had a handful of regiments, so sending several over would be a huge investment. (I know where they all are except Anhalt-Zerbst, I'll need to dig my map out for that one).

                OK. It seems clear that they were hired for their light infantry skills, but were they allowed to use them?

                All good info.

                JS
                Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                "Never pet a burning dog."

                RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                http://www.mormon.org
                http://www.sca.org
                http://www.scv.org/
                http://www.scouting.org/

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Overseer
                  From what I remember of my American Revolution history, the Hessians were brought in because they were some of the most feared soldiers in the world at the time. Unfortunately I'm not sure of what their actual exploits were (I'm sure a quick search on the internet would reveal something), but a major reason they were brought in was because they were some of the best soldiers in the world. In fact, the American forces feared going up against them, which is why Trenton was so important, catching them off guard and beating the Hessians was crucial (in an open fair battle, they probably would have destroyed the continentals).
                  Interesting.

                  I had always assumed that the Continentals just disliked them intently because they were mercenaries hired by the "parent" nation to subdue them...somewhat ungentlemanly, so to speak...just as Confederates hated German-speaking troops in Union units during the WBTS.

                  I have also read that a failing in their system was that the regimental COL received all the money from which he had to buy supplies and pay his men. He got to keep the rest as his pay. That led to at least one unit being equipped with slippers (which were cheaper) rather than decent marching shoes.

                  JS
                  Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                  Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                  "Never pet a burning dog."

                  RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                  http://www.mormon.org
                  http://www.sca.org
                  http://www.scv.org/
                  http://www.scouting.org/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Well, what I said was what I remember from a few years ago. I'm not 100% on it, but I'm fairly confident. Maybe someone else could help with that.
                    “To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life.”

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Janos
                      (I know where they all are except Anhalt-Zerbst, I'll need to dig my map out for that one).
                      OK, that was easy (thank you, Mr. Internet).

                      A-Z is just SW of Magdeburg. I drove through there a couple of years ago on the way to an SCA event E of Magdeburg. Very pretty place, heavily forested, with lots of deer.
                      Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                      Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                      "Never pet a burning dog."

                      RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                      http://www.mormon.org
                      http://www.sca.org
                      http://www.scv.org/
                      http://www.scouting.org/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Janos,
                        after reading my post, I realized I didn't write clearly...it being late and all here. I used Trenton as an example of why it didn't seem necessary to bring in the Hessians, since the British had a superior fighting force. With the vast resources of the Empire, I was always wondering why (other than familial ties) did the English bring in the Hessians.
                        Pvt. Bob Mana,
                        Co. B, 3rd Maryland Vol. Infantry, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Corps, Union Army of the Potomac

                        For the Union

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by PvtManaCoB3MD
                          Janos,
                          after reading my post, I realized I didn't write clearly...it being late and all here. I used Trenton as an example of why it didn't seem necessary to bring in the Hessians, since the British had a superior fighting force. With the vast resources of the Empire, I was always wondering why (other than familial ties) did the English bring in the Hessians.
                          Ah-ha! Now I've got you. Did the British have a superior fighting force? Late in the war at least, they raised regiments of loyalists because they were short soldiers and at that point their goal was only to hang on to the Southern colonies, where they felt they had a better chance of being successful.

                          How many people does it take to subdue a nation (or 13 colonies, if you wish) the size of those 13? It took huge forces for the Yankees to subdue us in the WBTS, largely because they underestimated the number required. Hiring German mercs would seem to be a good way of bringing in more help quickly.

                          There have been several good facts/theories put out here as to why they hired the Germans they hired.
                          Barcsi János ispán vezérőrnagy
                          Time Magazine's Person of the Year for 2003 & 2006


                          "Never pet a burning dog."

                          RECOMMENDED WEBSITES:
                          http://www.mormon.org
                          http://www.sca.org
                          http://www.scv.org/
                          http://www.scouting.org/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The Germans hired by George III, numbered around 30,000 soldiers. That's a significant number of men that could be used to help put down the rebellion. But many of them, just like the British were quite helpless in the forest. Burgoyne brought a Brunswick dismounted cavalry unit with him in '77. They wore stiff heavy cavalry boots while trying to march through the wilderness. Plus they often complained about the mosquitos and the wilderness conditions. Remember, other than the Jaegers who were foresters and game keepers back in Europe, most of the Germans had never seen a forest before.
                            "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

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                            • #15
                              I bow to your superior knowledge! :bowdown:


                              The PBS series "Liberty" spoke of Burgoyne's "campaign" south through New York, and the excess of useless comfort items they took along.
                              Pvt. Bob Mana,
                              Co. B, 3rd Maryland Vol. Infantry, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 12th Corps, Union Army of the Potomac

                              For the Union

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