Independence from the British...and the Germans?

hessian_jagerFor the second year in a row, I am spending 04 July--the American Independence Day--in Frankfurt, Germany. Today while thinking about the American Revolutionary War that followed the signing of the Declaration of Independence, I recalled that Frankfurt played a bigger role than many realize.

With a worldwide empire, the British did not have enough manpower to satisfy their imperialistic yearnings (and the maintenance problem that resulted) and contracted out much of their dirty work to the Hessians: German soldiers for hire.  The name Hessian comes from the Hesse region of Germany (note the country was not unified then) where 12,992 of the total 30,067 mercenaries came from. Germany is now a federal republic, like America, with 16 states that retain some level of autonomy. Hesse is in central Germany and home to modern-day Frankfurt.

There is much more to say on this topic, but the the point is that the American Revolution was much more of global conflict then many think. Not only did soldiers from a variety of nations take part (think Brits, Germans, French, Spanish, and Dutch) but it became a proxy struggle over Europe and a poignant reminder that war affects much more than just those nearby.

Let the fireworks begin!


boris July 7, 2012 at 10:46 pm

surely you mean Hessen

@boris: Don't quite know what you mean. Hessen is the German word--in English it is Hesse. The soldiers were called Hessians.

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