Land of the Brave

The Hessians

Colonial America - Land of the Brave

The Hessians
Who was Hessians and why were they fighting for the British in the American Revolutionary War? Definition of Hessians: The Hessians were German soldiers that were hired through the rulers of six German principalities by the British Empire in the 1700's. Over 30,000 Hessian soldiers were hired to fight against the American rebels during the Revolutionary War.

More than half of these troops‑for‑hire came from the German state of Hesse­Cassel which was ruled by the House of Hesse, from where the name Hessians is derived.

Fast Facts about Hessians
The following facts about Hessians provide interesting facts and an overview and description of their involvement in the American Revolutionary War. Read the fact file on the Hessians and understand their importance and significance to the British forces during the American War of Independence.

Fact 1: German rulers hired out some of their regular army units to Great Britain to fight against the Patriots in the American revolution.

Fact 2: The Hessians were mercenaries meaning soldiers who were hired to fight in a foreign army for remuneration, rather than out of loyalty and patriotism

Fact 3: The Hessians were German military conscripts - not volunteers

Fact 4: The Hessian soldiers had been forced into the military and had limited military experience - many Hessians who made up the foot soldiers were old or criminals and fought mainly for a daily food ration 

Fact 5: The Hessian soldiers came in entire units with their usual uniforms, flags, weapons and officers

Fact 6: The first army units of Hessian soldiers that arrived in America totalled over 18,000 soldiers - this number increased to over 30,000

Fact 7: The Hessian soldiers, made up about a quarter of the British fighting force in America

Fact 8: The Hessian soldiers first landed at Staten Island on August 15, 1776

Fact 9: Their first engagement was in the Battle of Long Island but the Hessians also fought in many other battles in the Revolutionary War including:
The Battle of Fort Washington
The Battle of Long Island
The Battle of White Plains
The Battle of Savannah
The Battle of Trenton
Battle of Guilford Courthouse

Fact 10: The Americans encouraged Hessians to desert and join the large German-American population.

Fact 11: The Continental Congress authorized the offer of 50 acres of land to individual Hessian soldiers to encourage them to desert. (They also offered 50 - 800 acres of land to the British soldiers, depending on rank, to encourage the British troops to desert).

Fact 12: Any Hessian deserters were executed or beaten by an entire company

Fact 13: Stats and Facts about the Hessian soldiers: 4972 settled in North America

Fact 14: Stats and Facts about the Hessian soldiers: 6354 died from illness or accidents

Fact 15: Stats and Facts about the Hessian soldiers: 1200 were killed in action

Fact 16: Stats and Facts about the Hessian soldiers: 17,313 returned home to Germany

Fact 17: 1,000 Hessian soldiers were captured as prisoners at the Battle of Trenton

Fact 18: The Hessian soldiers included hussars, three artillery companies, and 4 battalions of grenadiers

Fact 19: The infantry were sharpshooters, musketeers and fusiliers WHO were armed with smoothbore muskets. The Hessian artillery used three-pounder cannons

Fact 20: Hessian commanders refused to take the soldiers who were criminals or sick back to Germany.

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Updated 2018-01-01

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