Most Hessians in the American Revolutionary War were German soldiers sold by their rulers to King George III of England. However, these German states did not engage in this "soldier trade" primarily for money, but more for the political exposure on the world stage. Other German mercenaries who volunteered for foreign military service, did so in return for wage and certain conditions like a limit in the length of service. The question which then unfolded during the research was why did so many soldiers remain in America after the war? A three week excursion to the East coast in May, 1998 helped provide some of these answers.
An attraction towards America started setting in for the Hessians after arriving in the colonies during the war. There was the possibility of prosperity for the common man. Craftsmen and laborers could make excellent wages. More than 3000 Hessian soldiers during the war believed in this attraction and remained in America after the war. However, many could not wait for the war's end and decided to desert. Other reasons for desertion was American propaganda, the promise of land by Congress, marrying of American women, and sometimes just to be able to live in the pure beauty of the American countryside. One underlying reason Hessians left their military units was due to the poor treatment they received from the British army. Hessians who did remain behind began new lives with new families. In addition, many were able to become successful farmers and businessmen. It was an attraction few could resist.
Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference
©1999 by the University of Northern Iowa
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA
"Reasons for Hessian Involvement in the American Revolutionary War,"
Conference Proceedings: Undergraduate Social Science Research Conference: Vol. 3:
1, Article 25.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/csbsproceedings/vol3/iss1/25