The Hessian soldiers who fought for the British in the American Revolution did not come to the New World of their own free will.Share
The troops comprised conscripts—school dropouts, servants without masters, bankrupts, idlers, drunkards, the unemployed, troublemakers, and any other "expendable" man who was healthy and under 60. Their societies saw them as anything but the best and brightest.
"Hessian" is catch-all term for soldiers rented out to the British by Frederick II, the landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, and five other German rulers. In Hesse-Kassel, the fee was the equivalent of 13 years of tax revenue, and Landgrave Frederick used it for the public good. He left a full treasury, founded museums and schools, and had a taste for expensive buildings.
About 30,000 soldiers crossed the Atlantic between 1776 and 1783. At first, they were well trained and well equipped. As the war dragged on, it became harder to find men who would make good soldiers. (Read more.)