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North A merican W ar of Independence,




Captain Saxon-Meiningen Army ; Member of the Historical Society of New York.





REVOLUTION, 1776-1783.


Captain in the Saxon-Meiningen Army, and Corresponding Member of the Historical
Society of New York.



NOTE. Published in Hanover, in 1863, in two volumes, of pp. 379 and pp.
271, this book still remains full of interesting details as to the German troops
serving in America. Leaving out all that relates to the general history of the
Revolution, there is much that is likely to have value for special students of
American history, and to them these pages are submitted as a contribution that
cannot but serve to give a better idea of the actual facts of the part taken by the
German soldiers in the British army, in the struggle for American independence,
than can easily be gathered from other sources.


It is now just eighty years* since the German
troops returned home from the seven years war
beyond the Atlantic, in which they had fought as
allies of England against the great American rising.
They are known as the German Allied or Subsidiary
Troops. Since that long and hard-fought war, the
Union, with passing exceptions, has enjoyed the
blessings of a long peace. Now a new war is raging ;
this time the sword is not drawn against a foreign
power, but between hitherto sister states their own
flesh and blood. Again Germans are fighting, just
as before throwing their weight in the balance, now
not for a foreign interest, but for their own. Even
if nearly a century has elapsed between the first
great war and that now being waged, the careful
observer will find much resemblance between the
war of that day and the present war. Let us look,
however, at the subject we have in hand. While we
find in other campaigns in which German soldiers

*The original was published in Hanover in 1863.

8 Preface.

have taken part the results gained by them more or
less fully described, there is wanting, in the most
marked way, the history of the share they took in
the war of the American Revolution. There has
been plenty of time to fill this void, but hitherto it
has not been attempted in any complete form. In
the literature of Germany it has appeared only in
separate accounts in historical works and periodicals.
Even this proportionately brief material is not only
small in bulk, but is, for the most part, either of
particular portions of the forces engaged, or from
ignorance, or by accident, it is erroneous. The ab
sence of any complete or impartial story is noteworthy
in the present wealth of German history. Hitherto
the archives in which the original documents were
preserved have been jealously closed to the world.
There is, however, abundance of other material in
the journals and correspondence of the principal
leaders, of officers and private soldiers, who shared in
the war. Most of them wrote with no expectation
that their pages would ever be made public, and
plainly put down what was seen and what was heard.
The value to be ascribed to such material is to be
seen in its use in modern works on the history of
recent wars. To gather such material has been no
light labor. Much was lost, much in family papers

Preface. 9

not willingly given to strangers. The reader will see
in the following pages what has been obtained in
various parts of Germany and from various sources.
It has been the aim of the author to give a general
view, avoiding repetition, and emphasizing the part
a subordinate one, of course taken by the German
troops, but allowing the German writers to tell their
own story, even when it differed from the recognized
English and American authorities. He has sought
to protect and restore the good name and credit of
German soldiers, ruthlessly attacked on all sides for
their share in the American Revolutionary War.
Hard indeed was their situation denied the privilege
of fighting for any national cause at home, they were
reproached for taking part in a foreign war, although
they did so in strict obedience to the orders of their
military and civil superiors, at risk of losing health,
discipline, and even honor, and it is only right that
their deeds should speak for them and give the true
version, even at this late day, of their share in the
events here described.


A. Hessian : (i) Journal of Captain v. Miinchhausen,
from the time of his appointment as Howe s Adju
tant, 18 November, 1776, to 22 May, 1778.

(2) Correspondence of Col. v. Heeringen, Capt. Bur-

meister, and other Hessian officers.

(3) Journal of an expedition under General Clinton

to the Southern Colonies, from 18 December,
1779, to 8 August, 1780.

(4) Diary of Captain Friedrich v. d. Malsburg, of the

v. Ditfurth Regiment, from February, 1776, to
1 6 November, 1780.

(5) Diary of Captain v. Dinklage, of the Guard Regi

ment, from 14 January, 1776, to 29 May, 1784.

(6) Journal of the most noteworthy incidents of the

Hereditary Prince Regiment, begun in February,
1776, when it went to America, ended May, 1784,
on its return to Marburg, by Regimental Quar
termaster Lotheisen.

(7) History of the Fusilier Regiment v. Lossberg, in

a diary, begun 1776, down to 1783, kept by the
Hessian Lieutenant Biel (Rail s Adjutant).

(8) Diary of Lieutenant Wiederhold (of Rail s Regi

ment), afterwards Captain of v. Knyphausen s
Regiment, from 7 October, 1776, to 7 December,

12 Manuscript Authorities.

(9) Diary of the voyage of the 8th Hessian Recruit

Transport to America, from 10 April to 28 Octo
ber, 1782.

(10) Journal from the arrival of the French Fleet in
Rhode Island, 1779, to 22 May, 1784, by a Hes
sian officer.

(u) Journal of Lieutenant Riiffer, from i March,
1776, to 28 December, 1777.

(12) Species facti of the surprise and capture of three
Hessian Regiments, v. Knyphausen, v. Lossburg
and Rail (now Wollwarth), 26 December, 1776.
Philadelphia, 19 March, 1778. Schaffer.

(13) Species facti of the surprise and capture of Rail s
Brigade at Trenton, 26 December, 1776, espe
cially Rail s (now Wollwarth s) Regiment ; by
J. Matthaus (Major).

(14) Report of the capture of Rail s Brigade in Tren
ton, 26 December, 1776. Phila., 20 March, 1778.
Baum, Staff Captain, Knyphausen s Regiment.

(15) Reports of Captains of Engineers Pauli and
Martin- and Lieutenant Biel, on the events at

(16) Report of a Hessian officer of the surprise at

(17) Letters of Lieut. Henkelmann, of Seitz s Regi
ment, to relatives at home, and some extracts
from his diary.

(18) Letters of Adjutant Henel.

(19) Letters of Captain Ries, of Lossberg s Regiment.

(20) Letters of Sergeant Flockshaar.

Manuscript Authorities. 13

(21) Part of a diary of non-commissioned officer Cas
per Recknagel.

(22) Diary of non-commissioned officer Reuber, of
Rail s Regiment, from i January, 1776, to 29
December, 1783.

(23) History of the Yager Battalion, by Capt. Mahl-
burger. [A few copies only lithographed.]

B. Brunswick: (i) Papers left by Lt.-Gen. v. Riede-
sel at Eisenbach.

(2) Journal of the Brunswick Troops, from 22 Febru

ary, 1776, to 15 January, 1779, kept by Quarter
master-General Gebhardt.

(3) Journal of Col. v. Specht, from the voyage to the

capitulation at Saratoga.

(4) Correspondence of Major Cleve, Riedesel s first

Adjutant, and Captain Tunderfeld.

(5) Journal of Captain Ranzau, from 8 April, 1777,

to 29 August, 1778.

(6) Journal of Schuler, from 15 May to 20 June,


(7) Journal of the voyage from Portsmouth to Quebec,

and from there to the Southern Colonies, and
thence of the return to Europe, by C. v. Schuler,
known as v. Senden. [The journal begins 23
June, 1776, and ends April, 1781. An extract
was printed in 1839, i n the " Journal for Art,
Science and History of War," vol. 47. Schuler
v. Senden died a Prussian General of Division.]

(8) Journal of the Field Chaplain Melzheimer.

14 Manuscript Authorises.

(9) Journal of Major Cleve of his imprisonment, 1779.

(10) Journal of the Voyage to America and of Three
Campaigns there, from 15 May, 1776, to 10 Oc
tober, 1783, including the return to Wolffenbiit-
tel, by Frederick Julius v. Papet, First Lieuten
ant of the v. Rhetz Regiment, and, since 20 No
vember, 1777, Brigade Major of the German
Troops in Canada. [Two stout volumes.]

(n) Journal of Corporal Scheither.

C. Waldeck: (i) Short Description of the Journey

and Campaign of the Third Regiment to Amer
ica, from 20 May, 1776, until its return in 1783,
by Carl Philipp Stetiernagel, Quartermaster of
the Regiment, of Captain Teutzel s Company.
(2) Diary of the Third Waldeck Regiment, by Ph.
Waldeck, Chaplain.

D. Ansbach-Bayreuth : March, route and description

of the most remarkable events in America, by
John Conral Dohla, of Zell described to a for
mer companion in arms. [Dohla was a school

E. Anhalt-Zerbst : History of the Zerbst Regiment

in the English service during the American War.
[This Ms. gives the history of the Regiment
from 1776 to 1793. The part relating to the
war in America is from the diary of a member
of the regiment who took part in the events it


The American armies were recruited by the help
of liberal promises. Twenty dollars and one hun
dred acres of land were guaranteed every private and
non-commissioned officer. Recruits could be got
only by bounties and pay. The Germans were used
to being sent outside their own country to serve
under foreign flags, but the money paid for their ser
vices went to their sovereigns. Those sent to Amer
ica brought home much useful knowledge of actual
war, and the Hessians and Brunswickers, who had
fought in America, were among the best soldiers in
the German army during the wars of the French
Revolution. Their operations in America were
closely followed at home ; newspapers and journals
were filled with their letters.

A Hessian officer who had served as adjutant
with Donop and Knyphausen, wrote afterwards :
" No one found fault with our going into the Brit
ish service for pay," and none of the officers
or men complained. There were many volunteers,
especially in Hesse, among them v. Ochs, later Gen
eral, and in the letters home, from soldiers and offi
cers, there was no complaint, but all showed a thor-

t6 The Treaties.

oughly German spirit of discipline wherever they
were ordered.

When England found its need of allies, it natur
ally turned to its old comrades of the Seven Years
War. Hesse Cassel and Brunswick were first
approached. George the III. wrote to their princes
-the wives were both English princesses and
offered not only a subsidy for their troops, but
treaties of alliance and protection, for it was easily
to be anticipated that France would side with the
rebels and threaten Germany. The troops from
Hanover were sent, five battalions, to Gibraltar,
relieving English soldiers sent to America. Hesse
Hanau and Waldeck joined the other German allies.

Toward the end of 1775, Col. William Faucit, of
the Guards, came to Germany to make the Treaties
for the allied forces. On January 9, 1776, that with
Brunswick was signed, on the i5th that with the
Hessian government, and on the 5th of February
that with Hanau ; that with Waldeck had been made
in London on April 25, 1775. Hesse Cassel agreed
to supply fifteen Regiments, each of five Companies,
four Grenadier Battalions, two Yager Companies,
and some artillery, in all 12,500 men. Brunswick
promised a corps of 4,000 men, four Infantry, one
Dragoon, Regiments, one Grenadier, and one Light
Infantry Battalion. Hesse Hanau promised one In
fantry Regiment and some artillery, in all 900 men ;
Waldeck, one Regiment 750 strong.

The three treaties were printed at Frankfort and

The Treaties. 17

Leipsic in 1776, and in the Parliamentary Transac
tions, Nos. 17 and 18. For each man England
agreed to pay thirty marks hand money, one-third
one month after the execution of the Treaties, the
balance within two months. For every man killed,
wounded or captured, or made unserviceable by
wounds or sickness, a like sum was to be paid, and
like provision was made for those lost in sieges or
by infectious disease or on shipboard, but for desert
ers no compensation was to be made.

To meet the heavy expenses of so quickly equip
ping so large a force, England paid in advance for
two months, besides all the transportation from the
first day s march. The Brunswick Treaty provides
that the subsidy should begin to run from the date
of its execution at the rate of 64,500 German thalers,
as long as the soldiers received pay, and when that
ended, it was to be doubled, and this 129,000 thalers
should be paid for two years after the return home of
the troops. They were to take an oath of service to
the King of England, thus putting them under
double allegiance to their own sovereign and to that
of Great Britain. Their own princes were to supply
equipments and keep up the standard by new re
cruits, and were to maintain their legal control over
their subjects. Food and clothing were to be sup
plied just as to the British army. The forage money
paid to the officers was a handsome addition to their
regular pay. Gen. v. Riedesel, who was of an eco
nomical turn of mind, was said to have saved 15,000

1 8 The Treaties.

thalers from this source on his return to Brunswick.
This was the tenth treaty of the kind that Hesse
had made since the seventeenth century. The King
of England pledged himself, in case of great loss in
any regiment, to equalize its strength as best he could
with the others. With Brunswick and Hesse Cassel
he specially agreed to employ their soldiers only in
the North American Continent, and not in the un
wholesome West Indies. It is not easy to ascertain
the exact amounts paid by England to Germany
under these treaties, for the details were kept secret,
although the public approval by Parliament annually
shows that the following were about the amounts
thus voted, viz. :

Hesse Cassel, eight years, . . . ^2,959,800.

Brunswick, . . . 750,000.

Hesse Hanau, " ... 343,130.

Waldeck, " . . . 140,000.

Ansbach-Bayreuth, seven years, . 282,400.

Anhalt-Zerbst, six years, . . . 109,120.

As these subsidies were to continue for two years
after the close of the war, that would be ^1,150,000.
The bounty for 20,000 men at ^6, would be ^fi 20,000.
The Artillery received an additional ^28,000, and the
annual subsistence cost ^70,000. Altogether, with
additional allowances, ^850,000 annually must have
been paid to the German princes for their soldiers,
out of which, of course, they paid the expense of
equipping, keeping their arms, etc.

The Treaties. 19

The Treaty with Hesse Cassel was even better for
that prince than that with Brunswick or Hanau, and
Cassel received yearly ^50,000 more than it ever got
before for the same number of its soldiers.

Baron v. Schlieffen made a special visit to London
on behalf of Cassel he was an old soldier, had served
in the Seven Years War in command of Hessian
troops, and was Adjutant of the Duke of Brunswick,
and was as good in using his pen as with his sword ;
his Memoirs have been highly commended by later
historians. When he went to London, the only man
in the English Ministry he knew was Lord George
Germain, who, as Lord Sackville, had been discredited
by his conduct in the Seven Years War. Schlieffen,
however, gained such a foothold with the Secretary
of State, Lord Suffolk, that he was able to recover for
Cassel ^40,000, an old claim for hospital moneys
spent in the Seven Years War.

An offer of an additional sum, as compensation
to Cassel for Schlieffen s services in rescuing the
great magazine at Osnabruch, and thus helping to
win the victory at Minden, was refused, but he
secured for himself the honor of maintaining his
independence and personal honesty, and for his
native country a welcome increase of the growing
reserve in its well-stocked treasury.

The later debates in the British Parliament often
turned on the avarice of the German princes in
thus securing the payment of old claims, in addi
tion to the liberal amounts paid for the subsidies

2O The Treaties.

given by treaty ; but it must be borne in mind that
England was in trie position of asking for help, and
the Germans were not offering it, so that of course
the latter were justified in making the best terms
they could.


The German Princes, who had promised their help
to the King of England, after the execution of the
Treaties providing for subsidies, completed the mili
tary organizations and prepared them for their long
journey. The Elector of Hesse, Frederic II.,* whose
arsenals were well filled, and whose troops were always
ready, was the most active, and by the end of Febru
ary his Regiments were in Cassel, prepared to start.

As the departure of the troops depended on the
arrival of the transport ships, the time of waiting
was used in exercising the soldiers, in reorganiza
tion, and in preparing the recruits and the men who
had joined after a long leave of absence. In spite
of the weather, the men were drilled daily, often in
deep snow. Every effort was made to adopt the
English system ; the Grenadier companies, which
had been distributed among the Musketeer and

*[NOTE I. The Elector Frederic II., then fifty-six years old, was not unpop
ular in his country, which he had enriched by many benevolent institutions and
by others for art and science. He is unjustly reproached with avarice a charge
which belongs to his son and successor. As he gave the largest contingent for
the allied army sent across the Atlantic, and derived the greatest pecuniary ben
efit, he drew down on himself the most reproaches, which often exceeded his
deserts. He was better than his reputation. He died soon after the War, in

22 The German Allies

Fusilier battalions, were formed in fonr independent
bodies. A Grenadier Regiment was organized of
men picked from the different infantry regiments,
and as good riflemen were in demand by the English
authorities, the Yager battalions were increased. The
Regiments, according tp .the English system, were
very weak each with an average of 633 and in the
reports, etc., the same force is sometimes described
as a regiment, sometimes as a battalion ; the propor
tion of officers was unusually large.
Each Infantry Regiment had

21 Commissioned Officers,

60 Non-Commissioned Officers,
5 Non-Coinbatant Officers,

22 Musicians,
525 Men.

Each Grenadier Battalion had
1 6 Commissioned Officers,
44 Non-Commissioned Officers,

i Non-Combatant Officer,
20 Musicians,
420 Men.
Each Yager Company had

4 Commissioned Officers,

12 Non-Cotnmissioned Officers,
i Non-Combatant Officer,
3 Musicians,
105 Men.
Each Artillery Company had

5 Commissioned Officers,

In the American Revolution. 23

14 Non-Commissioned Officers,

1 Non-Combatant Officer,

3 Musicians,
129 Men.

The Hessian Corps, at the outset of the War, had
a strength of 12,054 men, besides staff, engineer,
supply train and servant men. It consisted of

15 Infantry Regiments,

4 Grenadier Battalions,

2 Yager Companies,

2 Field Artillery Companies,
and was organized in two Divisions and four Brigades.

Gen. v. Schlieffen, the Commander-in-Chief, was
very earnest in his entreaties to be assigned the com
mand, but the Elector chose Lt.-Gen. Philipp v. Heis-
ter, an old officer who had served with distinction in
the Seven Years War.

Owing to want of transportation, only the First
Division, under Gen. v. Heister, was sent forward
it consisted of the Guard Regiment, the Prince
Charles Regiment, the Hereditary Prince s, Knyp-
hausen s, Lossberg s, Ditfurth s, Donop s, Triim-
bach s, Mirbach s, the Grenadier Battalions of Rail,
Bloch, Minnigerode, and Linsingen, a Yager Com
pany, 138 strong, and a Field Battery, 242 strong.

The Elector inspected the Regiments and reviewed
them as they marched out in the presence of a large
crowd, which cheered them heartily. It was not until
February 29th that they finally left, and Rail s Regi
ment not until March 6th. On the loth of March

24 The German Allies

the First Division marched through Bremen past
great numbers of spectators. On March 2ist and
22d, the troops were mustered into the English ser
vice by Col. William Faucit, and on the 23d the
loading of the transports began, lasting until April
1 5th. The quarters were very crowded, and each
man had a small mattress, a pillow and a woolen
coverlet, and every six a wooden spoon and a tin cup.
The food consisted of peas and bacon on Sundays,
four pounds for six men ; soup, butter and cheese on
Mondays ; four pounds meat, three pounds meal, one-
half pound raisins, one-half pound suet, for pudding.
This was repeated on Wednesdays and the rest of
the week. Every six men received daily four cans of
small beer and a cupful of rum, often increased by
an exchange for bread and cheese.

On the 1 6th, Gen. v. Heister went on board the
Commodore s ship " Elizabeth," and owing to the
lack of transportation, he was obliged to leave Rail s
and Mirbach s regiments, and 154 men of Knyp-
hausen s, behind. On the lyth the fleet set sail-
forty-four vessels under Commodore Parker. On the
26th it reached Portsmouth, where the English troops
already on other vessels, gave them a hearty wel
come. On the 28th divine service was held. in
accordance with the German piety of the time, every
soldier had a prayer book in his knapsack, and men
and officers were in the habit of daily pious exercises.

The English authorities urged the instant depart
ure of the German division, but Heister tried hard

In the American Revolution. 25

to secure delay until all his troops were in hand, but
he was obliged to yield. On May 6th, the fleet,
under Admiral Hotham, consisting of 150 sail, finally
got under way ; the convoy consisted of six men-of-
war and two cruisers. There were 12,500 troops on
board, of which 7,400 were Hessians.

The voyage was long, tedious, stormy and uncom
fortable. There was a duel between Lieut. Klein-
schmidt and Capt. v. d. Lippe, in which the latter fell.

On August 1 7th, the fleet reached Sandy Hook,
and found there the rest of the German division, just
arrived. Twelve men only were lost on the passage,
but many were sick with scorbutic diseases. The
Germans were heartily welcomed, and gave glowing
descriptions of the harbor of New York and the
adjacent country.

The first order was to remove all silver from the
uniforms, just as the British had already done, to
lessen the risk of the American riflemen, whose un
erring aim was greatly feared.

At the time of the arrival of the German troops,
affairs stood about in this position. On the i8th of
April, 1775, the first blood had been spilled at Lex
ington, followed by armed rising everywhere. In the
North, Gen. Carleton, with a small force, formed the
right wing ; he had resisted an attack on Quebec dur
ing the winter, and was preparing to drive the Amer
icans back. In the South, in Carolina, the left wing
was under Clinton, sent to co-operate with Parker s
fleet, but did nothing effectual there. Howe, who

26 The German Allies

had received the general command in place of Gage,
recalled, was in command of the center, and by orders
from England, evacuated Boston, tip to that time the
only place on the northern coast held by the British.

He left March i7th, 1776, and sailed to Halifax,
bnt on receipt of the news of the arrival of fresh
forces from Europe, he left Halifax, on June nth,
and on the 29th reached Sandy Hook. His plan was
to establish himself in or near New York, and to
unite all his forces. He went to Staten Island, with
about 9,000 men, and there waited the return of Clin
ton from the South and the arrival of the force com
ing from England.

The line of operations, stretching from Canada to
South Carolina, was out of all proportion to the
strength at hand, and there was no possibility of any
united plan of action or mutual support. The two
commanders were brothers. Richard, Lord Howe, the
admiral and viscount, the elder, was active, energetic
and able, and had gained credit and experience in his
service ; he looked with undisguised contempt on the

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