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tv   Friederike Baer Hessians  CSPAN  December 30, 2022 5:39pm-6:55pm EST

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he also talks about multiculturalism in the importance of western civilization courses. >> in colleges, yeah, maybe even in high schools, it should be taught. 16 19 project, yeah. so long as you have them also read thomas payne, jefferson, martin luther king, abraham lincoln, that a few have, not that i believe everything in the liberal arts has to be a
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debate. but i do believe that cut multiculturalism before, multiculturalism viewpoints and ideas that are important are crucial 8 pm eastern on c-span's q&a. you can listen to q&a and all our podcast on our free c-span now app. >> today everyone. i'm philip meade, the chief historian and creator of this museum of the american revolution, so pleased to see you all tonight for frederik beers presentation of haitians. scott stephenson sends his regrets, he had intended to be here tonight hosting but was unable, though he may be watching from a zoom so if you're out there, scott, hello. i wanted to call your attention tonight to an important project that we have here in this room.
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this is a fragment of a hessian cat from his he can still. it was discovered in the delaware where the river in the early century and historical research by craig manno's and others has pretty well established that it was lost when a trip transport went under in may of, march of 1778, delaware river, all of a soldier survived on board but a bunch of their things stayed in the river. they were dredged up and are on display. other pieces that same material are on display in the court galleries. so tonight we have the privilege of welcoming fredricka bear, who is associate professor of history
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and division head for arts and humanities and addington college. her research focuses on the experience of german speaking people in north america, from the revolutionary period to the late 19th century. her publications prior to tonight include the monograph, the trial of frederick errol, language patriotism and citizenship, and philadelphia's german community, 1790 to 1830, winner of the saint paul's bibliophile prize for the best book in lutheran church history. tonight she is launching her book, hessians, which i think is destined to be a indispensable book for scholars and general students of the american revolution. it plums an extraordinary
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number of previous unexamined primary sources. it gives us a view of the community in this conflict that we really have only understood through a glass darkly so to speak but with a precision and clarity and humanity that actually is going to be very hard to beat as the definitive treatment for, i think, a very long time. so thank you very much, professor friederike baer, for these contributions and we are eager to hear your comments. first, i wanted to also introduce from haverford trust, which has supported the revolution for the email publications that many of you get, but also these evenings and i want to introduce
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representing referring for a few years, rebecca farnsworth, who is their vice president and institutional portfolio manager. so rebecca, thank you very much for joining us here. [applause] >> hello, everyone. thank you, phil. as phil mentioned, my name is becky farnsworth, and i am delighted to be here representing the haverford trust company. haverford is an investment management firm we have 13 billion dollars in bath under management. i'm a portfolio manager which means i'm responsible for managing investment assets and surveying his trusted adviser to a number of our firms non profit clients. i think we all feel very fortunate to live in a region that has such deep philanthropic routes and haverford has been committed to serving our nonprofit community since the firms inception.
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my the joy of my job is building deep strategic partnerships with our nonprofit clients and amazing organizations like museum of the american revolution who do such important work in strengthening the fabric of our communities. haverford has been a longtime partner of the museum, and it's very much a pleasure of our organization to once again sponsor the incredible, read the revolution speakers series and here at the museum. as the concluding speaker of this year's presentation program, we are all very much looking forward to hearing from doctor baer. thank you all for being here this evening. those in person and on zoom. and i will turn it back over to phil to get things started. [applause] >> thank you.
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without further ado, professor baer, if you would join us up here and give us your wisdom. [applause] >> okay. i never thought i would be giving a lecture at the museum of the american revolution, and i'm just so happy to be here today. good evening, whether you're joining us in person or on zoom, wherever you are, thank you for being here. thank you to phil, scott, the entire team, it's been a wonderful experience working with you all to get this organized, and thanks, also to the haverford trust for supporting the speakers who had the pleasure of attending quite a few of them and they're just great experiences. i hope this one will be a great experience for you as well. let me just click to the first
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slide. >> i would like to say a few general words about who they were, these thousands of troops we call hessians, how they ended up in north america, and then i will give a few snapshots of the experiences over the course of the war. so i want to start with a brief introduction. in the 17 70s and 1780's, as many of 40,000 german soldiers were hired to defend british imperial interests on four continents. in europe, in india, in south africa, and, of course, in america. the vast majority of them, and at least 30, 000, saw service in america. in august, 1776, a german periodical, the german chronicle, noted optimistically that, quote, soon the english will have to thank the germans second time for the conquest of
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america. the editor was alluding to william pitt's famous reference to germany's role in the seven years'war earlier, a war that had resulted in france seeding a large portion of its territorial positions in north america along with several caribbean islands, to britain. earlier that year, 17th any six, britain's prime minister had predicted that the entire driven exhilarated bring the war what he called speedy resolution without, quote, the further effusion of blood. neither of these predictions, of course, as we know now, came true. the steady supply of germans actually helped keep the war going for seven more years. so before i continue, let me emphasize that by the late 17 70s, early 17 80s, one third of the british regular army's strengths in north america consisted of german
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exhilarating's. this was not in insignificant presence. moreover, between the summer of 1776, when the third convenience and fourth on american soil in 1783 even the british army evacuated the newly founded united states. members of the german core spent extended periods of time and location as varied as quebec and nova scotia in the north, west florida and cuba in the south. across this vast terrain, they participated in all major military campaigns and numerous skirmishes and military encounters. some never saw battle. they spent their entire time in north america somewhere in garrison. 1000 died of disease, were killed in battle, or were captured by the enemy over the course of the war a growing number also deserted. i put up this map here from west point military academy,
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which has a great collection of maps like this, just to remind you of the major campaigns. as i mentioned, the germans took part in all of them. i should point out they did not take part in a once in the great lakes regions. they also did not go into east florida. they did, however, take part in a couple event campaigns that got highlighted here namely the occupation of newport, rhode island, and also all the way to pensacola and then fighting against the spanish in a number of forts along the mississippi river. we were also troops, as i mentioned, in nova scotia, which is not indicated here on this map. so how did they end up in america? in the spring of 75, 1775, britain faced the challenging task of raising substantial military force that could be dispatched to america quickly.
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fearsome reasons the king determined he would not be able to a sufficient number of troops at home or with in other parts of the empire, including north america. after his failure to hire 20,000 russians, the king turned to several german states for support. french intelligence suggests british efforts to hire hessian troops may have commenced as early as false 1774. before the war even started. at that time, as a reminder, what is sometimes called the trade in soldiers was unacceptable form of revenue. rulers used the income from hiring of military units to support their lifestyle, pay off territorial debt, and fun projects that were designed to benefit their territories generally, such as construction of villages, hospitals, schools, or spas. moreover subsidy treaty should
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also be seen as political measures that allow the rulers of smaller territories, within the holy roman empire, to maintain a certain degree of power and influence. in some cases preserve the domestic interests and gain protection from foreign powers. all of the maeve or european powers, such as france, russia, pressure, and united provinces of the netherlands, included foreign troops into their military forces. in fact, in the 18th century, the typical european army was a multinational force. eventually, of course, we know six german territories all within the holy roman empire, of course there was no germany in the, time the holy roman empire consists of hundreds of small territories in large territories. six of them ultimately agreed to enter into subsidy treaties to hire out exhilarated troops in exchange for substantial
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payments. hessian castle, -- , and -- , a bit difficult to see. but in any case, there are six territories they. rented out troops ranging from maybe around 1200, ultimately total of 1200 from the territory of foul back from 19 or 20,000 soldiers higher up in hessian castle. in 1875 the first troops began their american there true their trip to america in february, 76. the soldiers were not mercenaries. they're usually referred to as mercenaries but are not mercenaries. mercenary is really soldiers who fight in a foreign army or a foreign war for personal profit. these troops are considered auxiliaries. these are military units they were hired out by the
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respective rulers to assist britain in its efforts to put down the american rebellion. although the subsidy treaties varied somewhat, they agreed on the basics. very quickly, the troops would serve under certain terms as the british soldiers they could only serve in europe and north america. this was very important to the rulers. britain paid annual subsidies to the rulers during the time they were in british service and usually for a couple of years afterwards. no one knew how long the war would last. britain would also pay for transport to and from america. it'll cover individual pay, equipment, provisions, replacements, medical care, and so on. as you can probably imagine, keeping track of all of this was quite challenging, and got even more complicated and confusing over the course of the war for. those of you who like spreadsheets, this is one from
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1783. this is actually trying to tally up expenses in income still owned by the troops in canada at the time on the eve of the evacuation and the return to europe. and there are lots of records like this in the archives. and you have people, and it's hard for us to figure out what's going on, we have people there to complain constantly, like, you know, sorting out the finances. who gets paid for a white? who is owed what money? is it the british? is it the bank of london or germany or america? it's very confusing. i do also want to point out that expenses such as rations and uniforms were commonly detected from the soldiers pay. so soldiers themselves were responsible for covering some of these expenses. the german units would be commanded by their own officers and subject to their own military law. they almost always served
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alongside british troops, with very few exceptions. the overall command was also always a british officer. because the majority of these troops are supplied by the territories of hessian castle and hit and hessian -- , this term has been used to describe all german troops and british service in north america, regardless of place of origin. for this reason i'm using the term in the title of my book. however, in the book itself, and also today, i use german when referring to the troops collectively, and hessian when discussing units or individuals belonging to the hessian core. also affiliated civilians never describe themselves as hessian unless they were actually from hessian or belong to a hessian military unit. the troops were accompanied by hundreds of civilian employees
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and other camp followers, including medical personnel, chaplains, servants, laborers. to the army belonged also a significant number of women, including single women and also wives of soldiers who served in a range of essential rules such as, for example, laundrie's is inmates were employed in field hospital hours. there are also a great number of children. so who were these auxiliaries? none of the german rulers simply rented out their entire armies. the potentially long term and even permanent loss of large numbers of young men would not only hurt the economy, not only hurt the territory economically but it would also, of course, potentially make it vulnerable to foreign threats. in general the regiments hired out written consisted of a combination of experience soldiers and new recruits.
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before leaving for the war in america. for example, the third development i mentioned earlier consisted of roughly 670 men, typically, at full strength. it consisted of around 200 men who were taken from two regiments at the time there were in-depth service at the time. the other ones, about twice that number, and to be specially recruited for service in america. so britain may have expected to get a trained and experienced military force, but this was only partially the case. it was fairly easy to fill the officer rank. the war presented them to advance their careers. all the territories received large numbers of requests for publications, essentially, from officers as well as ambitious soldiers and veterans asking for appointments in the american core. the territories used a variety
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of conscription fees to raise the troops such as requiring districts to raise a certain number of men. regardless of the kind of scheme that employed the territories to fill up the regiments and they had to be ideally physically physically fit to stand the demands of filler military service in america. had to be at least five foot four inches tall. ideally they were single and if married, without children all of these require these were relaxed of the courses it became increasingly difficult to fill, to make up for the losses. all of the territories use various exemptions they were designed to exclude certain men from military service. for example, only sons that expected to inherit property,
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property owners, laborers, in essential industries such as mining, these men were not supposed to go to service abroad. generally recruiters were supposed to enlist foreigners, by which they meant non natives through the territory where they were recruiting. or native man deemed expendable. and that means, essentially, man whose departure for america was regarded as having little or no economic advantages for the territory or his absence may have been seen is beneficial for the local community. for example, on february 1776, an official from -- ask the duke for permission to enlist the poor man serving in prison for stealing wood. that's a month a woman, begged the duke to enlist her son in law whom she described as, quote, a disgusting godless man,
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and of quote. she pleaded with him [laughter] to, quote, free is from this evil man. we have quite a few petitions like this in german archives. drunkenness, laziness, sometimes in laws, please take him and send him to america. [laughter] ideally, of course, the man volunteered they. documented cases of men who refused to be poured from us rain, potential recruits who escaped and foreign territories, recruits who deserted or mutiny'd, and families who pleaded with their ruler to exempt husbands and sons for a variety of reasons. just because a man was being expanded to the territory did not mean he was deemed expendable by the families. so a lot of even poor families, when their husband or son was gone, these families suffered even more economically. and so poor families are very much affected by this, as you can probably imagine.
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the main object is when we read these petitions from parents, for example, or wives, to exempt their husbands. the main objection appears to have been the prospect of serving in a foreign war on a distant continent against an enemy that had done them no harm. military service itself was not the problem. it's sending these men to america, where many, of course, as soon they would never come back. although britney had hired chairman auxiliaries on multiple occasions since the 18th century, since the 17th century, really, they had never served outside of europe, so this was new. it is difficult to determine how many men were forced into service. the definition of forest might include difficult economic serve circumstances, for example, problems with relatives, trouble with the law. in addition to coercive tactics, such as trickery or offers of food or alcohol, provincial in
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pure professional, feels to the man sense of patriotism in love for their ruler also played important roles and compelling subjects to enlist. many were undoubtedly, and we know this, impoverished rural folks who were forced to go by their circumstances or by the authorities. the german poet you hunt wolf gangland boutter recalled in 1821 then in 1775, i quote, america used to be the eldorado of people who found themselves in a difficult situation. however, there were also many reasons why a man from the holy roman empire may have volunteered for service in america. i'm showing you here and a recording certificate for a man of -- who signed our up and he was a role maker by trade, upright instant, basic information from this certificate and i don't know why he signed up.
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maybe it was the bounty. i want to point out that he received $5, which, at the time, was quite generous, to put this into perspective. as servants monthly wages at the time were maybe between one and one and a half dollar. $5 is a good amount of cash that he would get just for signing up. i also want to point out the date. 1782, this is a good reminder that britain recruited, actively recruited germans well into 1782 and even into 1783 and still conventional history war are often more or less over -- but focusing on germans it's the war is not, overly from the british perspective. we have large shipments of recruits to go to america as late as fall of 1782.
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so recruits maybe went willingly, or they volunteered for an opportunity to improve their economic situation. some probably went to get to go free passage to america. some hoped to advance their military careers, study the american people or they were in search of adventure. this included someone from who recorded in the journal that many other recruits around him were, and i quote, filled with grief and sorrow, but i am those in my way of thinking are enjoying the prospect of leaving the country for the new world. a few of these recruits, the people that signed up, we're actually restores and scientists who recruited their
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observations and people in letters in journals, they started the cultural objects and natural specimen. my two examples here and left are very popular journal caused -- , i was an editor, our correspondents, exchange of, letters he actually published a whole series of letters that he solicited send me letters i pumpkin published during the lower, and here's an example of the series from canada. on the right is publication by david -- . he was a scientist who was actually getting ready to go to india when he was presented with the opportunity to accompany the -- trips to america as a regimental surgeon. he signed up, and not only did you decide to rein in america for the traditional years in
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the war to study the land in the people. he was disappointed that he had only seen new york, as he called it, little would island in the narrow city district of philadelphia. so he wanted to go out in that's what he did after 1783. eventually published a travel narrative, pinned several letters published in germany during the war, and numerous works on naturalist topics. here is an example. these individuals did so privately because they were interested in studying this strange land, but they also did it to a real editors request. in 1779, for example, general -- , commander of the hessian troops, directed all hessian regiments to collect what he called berries such as native
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american clothing and equipment and toward or the quartermaster's to maintain don't notes the detailed, as he put, it each and every event pertaining to their regiments. the receipt in the archives indicate that he brought back from america and the sugarcane and a pouch with crystals as a gift for the famous naturalist -- , and professor at the palladium in the castle at the time. so in all of these kind of accounts, published, circulated among friends were published during or after the war, helped broaden the knowledge of north america among german speaking europeans acted almost like foreign correspondence. they wrote these things the republish throughout the war in various german territories. so my in my book i talk a bit about the logistics, really, of
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getting these troops to america. i'm not gonna go into great detail here. just want to mention, of course, that they were taken to ports in germany or the netherlands. they were mustard they are in individual service. that's where their role in british service started. they boarded vessels that took them to england and from there to america. freeman records described the ocean crossing is a very frightening experience. this is new to germany, not a seafaring country really and so for them they may have been on little boats but ocean crossing for them was a new experience and it wires generally pretty scary. so the citing of land offered significant relief. this journal described the crossing in detail. the braunschweig surgeon -- , as he put it in his own diary, kept thinking of columbus as his vessel will sail into the
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canadian coast in the early summer of 76. he felt as though the german troops were discovering a new world. that's how he put it. and to them i would say it was a new world indeed. louise vitamin, the sister of the physician -- , who served in the hessian corps as a physician, noted later that the journey to america at the time was almost is adventurous as going to the moon. in fact, when the first continuance of german troops were eventually across the atlantic in the spring of 76, the average german probably did not know much about the western hemisphere, especially north america. and they knew even less about the war they were about to enter. in addition, to note as well, the vast majority of the german troops have no knowledge of english. when they have set out for america and many struggle to
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acquire even a basic command of it after their arrival. the german troops thus had to get rid used to fighting along unfamiliar much terrain against an enemy they do not necessarily understand. major -- of the hand our core captured the sense of frustration in the very first in three of his journal where he wrote, it was twice the work to fight a war with an incomprehensible friend and rebellious enemy. the first transport carrying german troops arrived in the summer of 1776. actually the first ones arrived from canada and then shortly thereafter troops arrived in new york. what were the impression of this land? well, many trumans recorded entail descriptions of the new york regions.
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their view of what they initially soy is representing all of america was very favorable. the americans appear to be enjoying the very high standard of living. what an ordinary long island farmer appear to be living in as well as an aristocrat in hessian. indeed, one officer noted if one put an american farmhouse next to a noble family in hessian it, would be challenging to tell the difference. one reason for this prosperity was the richness of the land itself. the germans described the landscape, including the farmland, it is exceptionally abundant and fertile. i choose this image here, a map, because we have to remember, of course, that new york, staten island, this is rural. this is green. it's not build up the way it is today. so obviously when these troops arrived they saw our country.
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what they described as rolling hills, lush forests, fresh springs, an abundance of wheat, corn, other grains, there were many orchards, chestnut, peaches, cherries, apples, pairs, plums, apricots, and other fruit. the lives of stock was well nourished. the firms needed to be kept long island was described as the garden of all of north america. the germans impression of new york city was very positive as well. they admired as wide streets, beautiful churches, stately college. sadly, this prosperity seem to have corrupted the inhabitants. indeed, the view of the land was so fair, the lure of the land was so favorable that many of the german observers speculated that the reason for the rebellion could not possibly be or pressured by the mother country.
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as the americans were claiming. from their perspective the colonies and little reason to complain. if anything, many had become lazy and decadent. juan tennant marked in a letter to castle that the white inhabitants a new jersey lived, quote, like pigs. they drank and eat several meals a day, moon spent their time waiting 40, decorating their homes. evidence abundance goods also occurs to the americans to be wasteful which to the germans valuable resources such as fire wood, for example. most of germans could not fathom why such a prosperous people would take up arms against the man looking a news or watch they had obviously done so well. the jurors concluded that the rebellion must have been the work of a few conspirators of selfish and sinister intentions,
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who were diluting the american people into believing that they were struggling for liberty from oppression. a few evil men committing them, one observer called, them were conspiring to make themselves masters of the people under the pretense of fighting for freedom. from a perspective of the germans, the white population was able to enjoy such a high standard of living in part because they depended on a labor of black people. german records from the period use the term we a word that translate as moors when referring to black men, women, in children one. chaplin wrote if there are people in america longing for liberty, as he put it, it would be these, quote, poor blacks. the elf evident wealth of the
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region contrasted starkly with the distillation that the rebels had brought to their own country. without the british oversight and protection, so it seemed, the nation's prosperity was rapidly declining. when the first ever landed in north america, the war have been going on for more than one year. they were shocked by the extent of destruction that had been advice to civilian properties within the newark region. they found entire villages abandoned, homes plundered, cattle killed, feels burned. not surprisingly, the population was hit hardest where the people who were or were suspected to be loyal to the crown. the americans treatment of the civilian population helped create an image of the americans as an undisciplined and on principled people. this experience, by the way, also helps explain why the german troops initially saw themselves as liberators rather
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than occupiers, and they were confused when the people did not treat them accordingly. what became known as the great fire of new york in september, 76, shortly after the arrival of the british and hessian, bring forth the view of the americans as vengeful fanatics. the fire consumed as a many is a quarter of the city's buildings. the hessians were convinced had been set by the rebels. they were going to this event is powerful evidence for the irrational determination to destroy destroy their own country rather than letting it thrive under british rule. the hessian officer was shocked that the, quote, evil and disobedient rebels were deliberately destroying what he described as their blessed land in habitations. another officer wrote, the evil sentiments of this nation are
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indescribable, as he surveyed the destruction of new york. they were destroying the nicest regions in the entire world. over the next few years, the view of a fanatical enemy was reinforced over and over again as german troops burned and pillaged qualms, fields, forest, and other regions including maryland, virginia, and georgia. ultimately these experiences, combined with military setbacks, also raised doubts in the minds of german soldiers whether this enemy could be crashed, given the stubborn determination to defeat britain. they were obviously willing to sacrifice everything in defense of their cars and as time went on there was no indication that this was diminishing. initially, however, the germans did not have much respect for the americans is a worthy enemy. of course, again, many of the
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german soldiers themselves were a young man who had been recruited specifically for the war in america and they were not necessarily more experienced in warfare than american counterparts. certainly most are not participated in a battle before. however, from the perspective of someone belonging to a highly hierarchy cuckoo and disciplined army that stressed the need in orderly appearance of all its members, from private to general, the americans did not even look like soldiers. here's an example of a hessian regiment from a -- for example, german soldiers were either clean shaven or were neatly groomed mustaches. you can see on this image. many of the americans, in contrast, we're unshaven, that's giving them an appearance of what one kherson called a scoundrel.
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shortly arriving after arriving on long island, a hessian would be rest to write he didn't have a razor. he confessing he had, sometimes, a beard like a rebel. -- outfits worn by poor farmers. they found american soldiers were also a discipline and lacked loyalties. he would cowards who ran at the four site of the enemy. from the germans perspective, washington's retreats, in other words, his refusal to meet the british in large-scale battle, we are not based on strategic decisions. rather they were due to the spinelessness of the soldiers.
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some officers contemptuously compare the war to a hunt. according to a measure a member of hessian the scene corps, described the american troops as gypsies. and another battle, in 1776, the battle of harlem heights, the american court colonel joseph weber's arrangement british and hessians sounded their view goals in a, quote, most insulting manner is is usual of the fox chase. one exception to this unflattering view of the american military, where the rifle man. but even these troops were regarded with ambivalence. by most germans feared and respected the sharpshooters, the effectiveness of its soldiers were limited in part by the time it took them to reload their weapons. and in addition, they only really posed a threat surrounding such as winds where they would hide behind trees
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like hunters. the strategy, or their strategy, of ambushing an unsuspecting enemy may have been in effective but was also seen is dishonourable. in 1777, a private wrote to his parents that the americans were not like regular soldiers at all but rather, quote, more like robbers and thieves, and that they hide in hinges and booge bushes and shoot so well that they hit every time. i should mention, some of you probably know this, the german counterpart, where the yeager, hundreds recruited from hundreds and gatekeepers in germany. they turned out to be particularly effective in the american war and so in general van at least in the first two campaigns, in the beginning of the war, the hessians regarded the americans is an inexperienced, undisciplined, and poorly equipped enemy they were chasing most of the time.
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another officer put it that it was terrible that they were fighting -- it took the germans a while to abandon the preconceived notions about the proper appearance and behavior of an army. these germans, these thousands of germans and civilians and military forces created a huge volume of records, public and private, diaries, letters, journals, official records, muster rolls, it's ultra. my strategy is based largely on this archival material. i would like to spend the rest of the time to show you a couple of representative samples of these kinds of sources, and share stories surrounding them as a way to highlight a few of the experiences of these troops.
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i want to start with a private letter that was written by a lieutenant, the braunschweig lieutenant who was in canada in may of 1781's. the letter you see on the left, he wrote this letter to his sister, can korte, a ian braunschweig. when he sat down to write his letter, he had been in america for five long years. on the right, here, is a detail from a map of the st. lawrence river, from quebec to montreal. that is where the german troops that were in canada, some for the entire war, some never saw battle, that is pretty much where they were encamped. he himself was in this place that i circled there. this is where he is. he's writing this letter. his initial impressions of the land of canada, really could
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back have been quite positive. in fact he described canada in another reference as a kind of simple world, a wilderness, mostly untouched by what he called civilization. he felt, at one point, as though he were seeing, quote, nature in her first childhood. but by 1781, this view had become less favorable. it is clear that he is lonely. and i should say that feelings of loneliness and homesickness are a recurrent theme in these kinds of records. life in canada in particular is harsh. he feels isolated. he doesn't know what's going on in the rest of the continent, especially during the winter. he misses his siblings. the last letter from concord ahead arrived from her two years earlier. and at that time he was one and at least 5000 german troops
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there were stayed station in canada, far more than british troops that were there at the time. although they were in a loyal province, they were quite suspicious of the local sentiments and they tended to feel like an occupying force. the fact that most of the inhabitants were french speaking and catholic may have contributed to their sense of alienation. the letter he says he doubts that the americans would attack on canada after the disastrous attempt in winter of 70, five 76. but he can't be sure. by the time he writes the letter of course france and into the war and so as a real threat. he knows also that the americans at some point we're just thinking about maybe we should make another attempt on canada. so i'm pointing this out because i think when you study the war we study these events of the past, there is a temptation to sort of, we know of course what happened, we
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know the americans never attacked. in fact we know none of these troops ever participated in the battle in canada. but they don't know that. so they had to remain on high alert. they were worried that the region might in fact calm. in fact in spite of persistent complaints are in many letters coming out of canada about the climate, the sense of isolation, the loneliness, the german troops began, some spent years there, like deroy, gradually get used to life in this northernmost province. but when it came time to leave canada in the summer of 1783, as many as 700 german soldiers belonged to the braunschweig corps were granted permission to remain there. 's so one thousands of german troops were stationed in canada, largely inactive, a significant number of germans were prisoners of war. and that takes me to the next
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record. captivity was a common experience from members of the german auxiliary troops. many spent considerable periods of time in captivity, and most on locations from massachusetts to virginia. the record that i am showing here is an embarkation list. it lists the troops belonging to two hessian regiments, most of whom have been captured a trenton in the fall of 1776. this record is from 1779. these troops have been released, and they are now embarking on several vessels from new york to canada. over the course of the war the total of middle east 6000 germans were captured on five occasions alone. many more were captured, but 6000, we know they were
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captured in these five moments. trenton, 1776, of course, more than 1000 were taken. then, bennington, in 1777. saratoga in 1777. yorktown in 1781. then two of these vessels. what happened is that the vessels departed almost immediately sailed into a massive storm. troop movements by boat, by the way, is something that the british more or less had to rely on, and it was a major disadvantage. so if they wanted to, whether they wanted to go to philadelphia or canada or florida when the southern colonies, they did this on boats going along the coast. what does that mean? well, first of all it means that it confines, sometimes, thousands of troops on vessels, two vessels, for extended
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periods of time, making them unavailable for any kind of defensive or offensive actions. ocean journeys also took a toll of the soldiers, who often arrived at their destination tired, hungry, and sick. on every voyage, moreover, soldiers were lost to disease or accident. in addition the ships carrying troops were easy prey, especially if they were separated from the fleet, which happened quite frequently. i'm more than one occasion, the british lost transport to american and also, later, french -- in the most spectacular this kind involving german troops is this event. so these troops, these transports and leaving new york to canada. there are six vessels. three of them i want to point out. one is the adamant. the adamant, unfortunately, was lost in the storm. in the diaries and letters. from members of the court,
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frequently expressions of hope that maybe they had been blown ashore, maybe they were in europe, who knows, maybe they were rescued or it ultimately turned out the adamant had sunk, at least 200 individuals on board, men women and children, perished. other vessels were seriously damaged in the storm. amongst them the molly in the triton. i'm gonna show you this nice drawing here from this diary. and before and after picture of the triton. he was on the ship. he'd been taking prisoner in trenton. he's not free in this is what happens. they were taken, captured by americans, and returned to captivity. i actually want to show you this. from this diary, who this person who was taking into transient, featured in the exhibit here in the museum. this is the depiction of the
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battle of trenton, and i just want to explain that he has a lot of drawings in this diary, it's kind of nice. so two and a half years after this event, these individuals returned to captivity. i also want to point out in this embarkation, which we don't have a lot of this but we have enough to indicate that there were women in children. you can see that women and children are listed there. 38 women, total, and 24 children total on these vessels. so that's an interesting document for that for that reason alone, i think. so when they were captured and as he writes in the diary, he's drifting like on the ocean and thank god we're being captured now and trying to save their lives and he does say in his diary, he writes, we were happy
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to be off these miserable ships and ongoing as earth. if america was caught earth. so while this is all happening, during this time period, most of you probably know, the british had already launched their campaign into the southern colonies, the rebellious colonies. between 1778 and 1781, british troop transport departed to new york for the south, the carolinas, georgia, virginia, on several occasions, each of them included germans. thousands of germans served in the south. hundreds of them occupied savannah, charleston, for example well after defeated yorktown. my next document takes us a little further south. it takes us to west florida. on the left is a printed pamphlet.
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we have several printed records of the journey from new york to pensacola, west florida. there was eastern rest florida at the time. hand remain loyal to britain as well. another, like canada, another royal province. those troops sale down in late 1778, stopped over on jamaica, and then arrived in pensacola. the regiment that participated in this is the entire -- regiment. they had been on staten island, they were identified, you go with some british troops, another 600 or so, under british general of course. you go to west florida. distantly defended from spanish and russian because the spanish wanted florida west florida back. the regiment in total consisted of approximately 770
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individuals, including 35 women and 15 children. also the people that bore the transport when they went down south. it was the only german wet regiment that was sent as far south, and the only one they fought against the. spanish it turned out to be devastating. when the small fleet of transports sailed through the waters of the gulf of mexico on new year's day, 1779, the author of this pamphlet, essentially, his name is -- , could hardly believe it. three years, three years since he wrote, in 1776, he had celebrated the joyous new years and flanders, erupt. exactly one year later, in 1777, he had found himself in -- another continent in new jersey having a grand time. a few days after that, unfortunately, he was captured by the americans. when 77 turned into 78, he was
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terribly ill, still a prisoner of war. and here he was now, january 1st, 1779, after another year had gone by. he was healthy, he was free, and he was sailing towards pensacola. as he wrote, who would have believed years ago that i would be wandering around this part of the world? and what a world was. in january, the troops arrived in pensacola, a town numbering no more than maybe 200 or so buildings. much of it have been destroyed by a hurricane if you months earlier. those small, it was the seat of the provincial government, and important trading post the boast of the best port in the golf. the spanish called it the arrogant guardian of the gulf of mexico that offer the english, quote, the best refuge to have for their ships and the
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key to the seas. spain was eager to get it back. within weeks of arriving in pensacola, the germans were wondering what they were doing in this part of the world. it was nothing but a desert, as they, sand inhabited what they described is savages, the term germans used at this time for native americans. why were they being sacrificed when they could be used somewhere else to north america? why wouldn't britain care about what they called the siberia of america? which is that an ironic term for florida. the regiment suffered terribly from disease. many men deserted eventually or recaptured. only a handful actually died in combat, which was common during the war overall. the greatest killers disease. in the meantime spanish forces
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were moving in against british outposts along the mississippi north of new orleans. german troops were dispatched from pensacola to assist in their defense. however, the spanish took one british fort after another, virtually unstoppable. in may, 70 81, pensacola surrender to banish forces and west florida was lost. by that time disease, desertion, in captivity and reduced the regiment to approximately 250 soldiers. remember, they had left more than 770. the hessian officer who was in south carolina at the time learned about their fate shortly after that. in the entry in his diary, captured the sense of grief about the loss of so many of his compatriots it would seem
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to him to be among the most remotest places in the world. as he put it, how german bones are scattered around in this war. the prisoners that have been captured before the surrender of pensacola were first held in new orleans before being taken to mexico and then to havana, cuba. many died of disease there. others deserted. many of them probably went into spanish service. some undoubtedly set up in cuba, florida, or louisiana. the troops that had surrendered in pensacola were sent to new york and in the treaty with spain on spanish vessels. the last person on one of the embarkation this was identified as a black woman. like the other women with the -- >> she remain unnamed. most likely was employed by the regiment as an individual where individual officers a servant.
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however the records don't reveal anything about her other than that she was black in that she was free. this brings me to my final records. on the left you see braunschweig garrison short records, day that 1787. the documents the back chisholm of five black drummers who accompanied the german troops to germany at the conclusion of the war. the baptisms responsive by officers that were veterans of the war, including general -- who commanded the -- court in north america. the register knows that the baptism and confirmation attracted an unusually large crowd. the record also notes that four of the five men were born in america and one was born in africa. for the duration of the war,
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german military units in america actively recruiting black men as musicians, laborers, servants, in a rare in true instances, privates. black women served and less formal roles such as servants and cooks. on the right here we see a muster role of a company in brooklyn at the time in 1781. note, this is an unusual document because usually it's hard to identify black members of the corps. in this case they are clearly identified as black. we have here one servant and three drummers, the command of this particular company was >> who he survived the war. he was part of the convention army but later released and was asked by the hereditary
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princess ruler to present an account of the troops in america and he was extremely frustrated because after saratoga, where many of these troops were captured, he had no idea where they were in north america. he actually called the convention army he called the confusion army. he was so confusing. and here you have 14 people. that's it. this company, it's tiny. so anyway, what he did, though, around the time it was completed he wrote a letter to the ruler in hanau, really excited about announcing that almost all the hessian regiments had hired blackmon for various rules, a colluding musicians and laborers. in a letter to his ruler, he theatrically does grinded to the special uniforms that he had designed, not a humble regiment but indicative of the
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way these black drummers were dressed. the way he put it, he planned it all out. they would wear red hats decorated with white rubber bands, intertwined feathers through the buttons, their colors were bright red and, they were clad in white pants in short linen coats. this was entirely consistent with contemporary european use of blacks in european military units pushed to the east that the musicians outfitted exotic creative uniforms added prestige to the companies. it's hard to determine whether blacks ended up as voluntary recruits or is plunder. the army routinely seized and save people during foraging expeditions, and we have written evidence that black children were sent to germany during the war often is gifts.
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moreover, some of them eventually deserted, where they even returned to individuals who claim them as their property. nevertheless, whether they were attached to their military units, voluntarily or involuntarily, within formal or informal roles, from the beginning of the term president in america, black women, men, and children were familiar presence in their encampments. and at least 200 of them, i think or more, there used to be more research done on this, at least 200 of them traveled to germany when the british evacuated the new nation in 1783. so, how does all of this broad understanding of the american revolutionary war? i suggest that an extermination of this which body of german authored records offers a fresh perspective of the american land, the people, the war, has
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seen and experienced by these participants and outsiders. it forces us to move beyond the themes and geographic reason regions that have been traditionally been emphasized narratives of conflict. the focus on the germans experiences, for example, in regions, geographic regions that tend to be treated as peripheral to the war, such as canada and florida. it offers moreover, a fresh, and i think, quite insightful perspective of the american land, the people, customs, and manners. it also provides us with new interpretations of the american and british military and civilian leadership, including the suspect of motors of the american rebels. it provides, finally, impressions and assessments of the americans generally, and of course, of the war, a war that was unlike any other military
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conflict that had been known in europe. in the words of one hessians officer, it was, quote, a war that went against all humanity. thank you. >> [applause] >> thank you, next question in the room -- just raise your hand. i just wanna walk over this for one second. >> thank you. i'm just curious. i know that on the spot -- [inaudible] . that those guys, they consider themselves like from different states or something? or did they just consider that
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they had more -- >> yeah, i mean, they are usually considered to belong together, so to speak. but there's two separate regiments. so, to an extent, the -- they saw themselves as being one territory, i'm not sure. but in the war, when they referred to them, and when we see records related to them, they are usually considered to be together. >> thank you. that is our tradition, we will give the house, the final questions. i'm gonna offer that to dr. philippe me. >> thank you, tyler. you talked a lot about the anxieties that princes had about sending the troops to america out of europe. but also, the temptations of their income, what were the, say, middle and long term
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effects of these choices for the german principalities. was it destabilizing? was it enhancing of their development? was this depopulation of significant problem? what does this tell us about german history? >> that's a good question. i think -- i think it's a big moneymaker. and so -- but it is complicated. so, the subsidy payments did tell finance projects, and in most territories that were, i would say, have benefited the dietary generally. a great example of this are the spas that were built. the subsidy payments. there is a huge construction project, essentially, that employed a lot of locals, and then became a tourist destination, basically. so, the economic impact, long term, longer term, were favorable. some of these territories were
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able to pay down debts, and pull back from the verge of bankruptcy. now, there were also, i mean, it's good for business, right? and i really mean that, when you see the records, you see how many businesses or merchant, merchants supplied these troops. i mean, this is incredible amount of stuff they need. even the people. they have the weapons, and the uniforms, and the prayer books, and the paper, and the food, and all of that kind of stuff. and there is a huge number of businesses involved. they're all profiting, essentially. now, when you go more into the rural areas, the country, where the men actually were recruited from, there, you see an increase, i would say, of poverty and real suffering. and that's something, also, in the archives, we see there's a lot of files of local officials, essentially, you know, writing
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to their rulers, saying, i have all these families. this man has five children, and the man is in america. and this woman relies on her son who's gonna take over the business, and he is in america, and they are impoverished. so, in that regard, there were certainly regions in these territory that were really her by sending so many young men abroad. so, i i would say it's mixed. and the one final point, and some of you might know this, i'm sure, the subsequent treaties or controversial. i mean, you know, just because it's been practice for 100 years or so, again, it's new that they're going to another continent and the british opposition particularly is very upset about this. for them, it's a civil war, on top of that. they're sent to america to fight against british subjects. so, this is the first time that we have serious criticism of
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this kind of arrangement. in britain, and also on the continent of europe, there's also very well-known philosophers like walter, they are all quicker of doing this kind of stuff. it is hard to reconcile the sort of this emerging sense of nationalism, to send your subjects to fight in a foreign war. germans hired our troops for a few more decades for other countries, by the second decades or so of the 19th century, basically over. it doesn't happen anymore. >> just a quick follow-up to that, does it change -- there's so much conversation about what is liberty in these documents, it seems to me, and that is sort of striking from american historiography, which has long looked at, as you point out, a book lease. troop says the sort of symbols of the opposite.
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and i just wonder, did these accounts, that were published in germany, change the trajectory of the enlightenment in germany, of liberty conversation, of you know, i mean, are there are different responses to what's coming of the french revolution that might be explained by this? big question, sorry. >> such a big question. it changed the trajectory of the conversation. i won't say that, when you read journals, or when you read a famous poets from the time, they are all sympathetic for the american, for the most part. they are sympathetic to the american cause. they like liberty, and these men are fighting for their liberty. and they also admired written, which in comparison to germany, had for example freedom of press and other liberal liberties that most german states did not have. so, there's sympathy in that sense. i would say that the entry of the german troops complicates this. so, you have, for example,
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early on, the german chronicle. the editor was a big fan of the american revolutionary movement until germans were hired to put it down. and that one is, like, what should i wish for? the americans when? or that he defeats these american soldiers? or should i hope for my fellow germans to when, so, it really presents a bit of a development for them. but i would say that the general view, in at least, if you consider that representative, britain journalists are sympathetic to the cause of the americans. >> thank you so much, professor baer. it's a terrific look. i hope you all get a chance to read it. thank you. >> thank you. [applause] >> weekends on c-span two are an intellectual feast.
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