Hessian (German) Soldiers (Mercenaries) in the Revolutionary War

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Hessian (German) Soldiers (Mercenaries) in the Revolutionary War

By | May 2008
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Whenever you ask someone about the Revolutionary War they think of one thing and one thing only... the Americans fighting off the British for their independence. And although it is true that they fought of the British for their independence, a lot of people miss the fact that there were others fighting on the British side that greatly added to their number. These men were the Hessian soldiers, or as other historians call them, “German Mercenaries”. These men were hired by the British and made up a large portion of Britain’s mobilized armies (American). So who are these Hessian soldiers and how did they impact the British in the American Revolution?

Every army has a beginning, and with the beginning comes rules to set it straight. The Hessian army originated when King Charles of Hesse-Kassel adopted the system of hiring out soldiers to foreign powers as mercenaries to help improve the national finance (Reese). The country of Hesse-Kassel was located between two parts of Prussia between some of their major military routes (Showalter). This resulted in war on many levels between the two nations. The country side was completely wasted and the only thing a lot of people had to talk about was war. So when King Charles put forth this plan, it seemed like a normal way of increasing finance. The Hessian army was already small and insignificant, and when the plan of selling out soldiers for profit came around, the army was divided into smaller cantons each responsible for maintaining a field regiment for home defense (Showalter). The selection of soldiers under the plan was plain and simple. All men between the ages of 16 and 30, and taller than 5’ 6” were listed as available for military service. But if someone owned property worth more than 250 thalers, they had the option of paying the army in money instead of blood. Also, craftsmen, apprentices, slave workers in military related industry, and men essential for their farm’s success were also exempt. In...
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