Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Hessians in the American Revolutionary War ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Hessians in the American Revolutionary War
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: publiuslex-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 26 Jan 2005 09:06 PST
Expires: 25 Feb 2005 09:06 PST
Question ID: 463682
I need primary sources on the Hessians and their commander, Jonathan
Ewald.  I am writing a research paper for a history course. Primary
sources originate in the time period that historians are studying.  A
primary source is the testimony of an eyewitness.  They may include
personal memoirs, government documents, transcripts of legal
proceedings, oral histories and traditions, and visual sources like
paintings and photographs.  The Hessians were mustered into British
service from 1776-82.  These are German mercanaries.  My paper will be
people oriented around Jonathan Ewald.  Any primary evidence from a
common Hessian soldier will be extremely helpful.  I need sources in
English.  The context is the American Revolutionary War from 1775 to

Request for Question Clarification by scriptor-ga on 26 Jan 2005 09:29 PST
Dear publiuslex,

Is it possible that the Hessian officer's name is actually Captain
Johann Ewald (1744-1813, later ennobled as Johann von Ewald), from the
Hesse-Cassel Feldjäger-Corps?


Clarification of Question by publiuslex-ga on 26 Jan 2005 13:42 PST
This is the man.  You have the area of Germany that sent out the
Hessians for Great Britain.  I am interested in how the Hessian
officers and men viewed the British troops and the American troops
commanded by George Washington.

Request for Question Clarification by scriptor-ga on 26 Jan 2005 14:10 PST
Well, I am German, so I am quite familiar with the general background
of the Hessian soldiers. I will try to help you, but I need some
additional information:

- Do you need online sources only? This would cause problems since
almost no such material has been made availabe online yet. Cpt.
Ewald's diary, for example, is quoted on many websites, but it is not
available completely anywhere. However, it had been published in
print. So would pointers to relevant printed sources (in English, of
course) be what you are looking for?

- How much information do you need? Please understand that it is not
easy to work on an "open end" question. If I knew what amount of
information would be satisfactory, working on this assignment would be

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 26 Jan 2005 15:07 PST
Like my good colleague scriptor-ga, I've also been looking into your
question a bit.

It turns out that a treatise by Ewald is available online in
full-text, from a subscription-based service:

Treatise on Partisan Warfare 
by Joh. Ewald, 
Captain in the Infantry Regiment von Dittfurth in the Service of the
Prince of Hesse-Cassel

The book includes an extensive introduction to Ewald and his
experience in America, and is heavily referenced with both modern and
original sources.  For instance, one segment reads:

Innovation and improvisation were hallmarks of Ewald's tactics. He
loved to use the ruse to draw an enemy into an ambush. Near Yorktown
one of his lieutenants and thirty men "pulled their shirts over their
coats, the leather straps and belts over that, and wore their hats
pulled down like the Americans, in order to look like the American
militia." This allowed them to approach Virginia militiamen and to
kill, wound, or capture a larger number of opponents than themselves.
144 Another successful tactic was to lull the enemy into a false sense
of security through numerous false alarms and then suddenly attack
when the enemy ignored indications of impending combat. 145

The references cited are:

144.  Ewald, Diary, p. 314. In his Belehrungen, 2:140, Ewald recounts
another ruse of American troops. On January 2, 1777, American riflemen
walked up to the Hessian position claiming to be deserters. When
Stabskapitän von Grothausen left his position despite warnings from
Ewald to receive them, he was shot and mortally wounded.
145.  Maimburg, Treatise, p. 197.  

The introduction also draws some interesting conclusions:

If his seven years in the New World had taught Ewald anything, it was
surely that the "well-trained and well-disciplined soldiers" of Great
Britain and her German allies had been defeated by a combination of
irregular and regular forces that they had never before encountered in
Europe. From now on expertise in the art of war was not enough. Ewald
does not seek reconciliation of the concept of irregular troops with
the absolutist military system as Kunisch would have it. Instead he
forecasts the army of the future, based on responsible soldiers,
acting independently, voluntarily, and accountably. Under the
leadership of George Washington these soldiers proved their
superiority over the mercenaries of the absolutist system.

I can certainly provided instructions for accessing this resource
online (which would require you to subscribe to the service).

But beyond that, scriptor-ga's cogent question remains -- what
additional information are you in need of, and must it all be
available online?

Let us know how we can best assist you.


Clarification of Question by publiuslex-ga on 26 Jan 2005 20:27 PST
The cites to web locations is best and cites to printed sources are
okay because I am near two main university libraries.  I would like to
see 10 sources.

Clarification of Question by publiuslex-ga on 26 Jan 2005 20:31 PST
Excellent citation to the Ewald treatise.  This is the type of
information I am searching for.  I will be out of pocket until Friday
morning and at that time I will see if additional clarifications are
needed.  Good luck and thanks.
Subject: Re: Hessians in the American Revolutionary War
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 27 Jan 2005 15:54 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

Thanks for clarifying the type of thing you needed for your research.

A very useful site for information (both primary and secondary) on
Ewald and the Hessians can be found on the pages of the 2nd Company
Jager Korps site, in which Ewald served:
Hesse-Kassel Jäger Korps 

The site is devoted to 2nd Company Jager Korps re-enactments, and is a
treasure trove of information on the daily life of the corps:

The first Jäger troops arrived at New York in August 1776 under Gen.
Von Heister with additional units arriving in October 1776 under Gen.
Knyphausen. By 1777 there were five foot companies and one mounted
company of Jägers in North America which were formed into a single
Korps, although they normally operated in small groups of not more
than 30 Jägers. The 2nd Jägers Company, under Capt. Ewald, arrived in
New York on 14 October 1776 and saw their first action on the 23rd of
October. As with most of the Jägers, they saw action in every campaign
in the war and can be documented in most actions of the Southern

Please spend some time exploring here, with particular attention to:
Captain Johann Ewald 
1744 -1813
Regimental Uniform
Weapons of the Hesse-Kassel Jäger Korps
Uniform & Equipment 

Of particular note for your purposes is the resources page, including
a list of (offline) primary resources:

Ansbach-Bayreuth Diaries from the Revolutionary War

A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution Dohla Johann

Diaries of Two Ansbach Jaegers   

Eighteenth Century America: A Hessian Report on the People, the Land, the War  

Enemy Views: The Revolutionary War As Recorded by the Hessian
Participants  by Bruce E. Burgoyne

Georg Pausch's Journal and Reports of the Campaign in America  
The Hessian Collection, Volume 1; Bruce E. Burgoyne  

Hesse-Hanau Order Books, a Diary, and Rosters: A Collection of Items
Concerning the Hesse-Hanau Contingent of "Hessians" Fighting Against
the American Colonists in the Revolutionary War

Most Illustrious Hereditary Prince

Revolution in America: Confidential Letters and Journals 1776-1784 of
Adjutant General Major Baurmeister of the Hessian Forces Uhlendorf
Bernhard translator

Siege of Charleston: Journals of Capts. Johann Ewald, Johann Hinrichs
and Major General Christoph Von Huyn Uhlendorf Bernhard translator


A picture of a (slightly goofy looking) Johann von Ewald can be found here:

not quite half-way down the page.


At this site:
The Captain Johann von Ewald Diaries: 
Maps of the Revolutionary War

you'll find some additional background on Ewald, as well as some
actual online materials from his diaries -- maps illustrating some of
the campaigns of the war.  Unfortunately, the text from the diaries
does not seem to be available online.


I mentioned earlier that the full text of Ewald's "Treatise" is
available through an online service.

You can find it at:

If you're not familiar with Questia, you can search at this site for
no charge, and view the first few paragraphs of any texts you select. 
But to see the full text, you'll have to begin a subscription at the

A search on [ Johann Ewald ] turns up the "Treatise on Partisan
Warfare" as the first result.  In addition to this being a principle
primary text for your work, there are many other primary documents
cited in the introduction to the "Treatise".  Here are few of
particular interest (including all the Ewald texts, even if not in

Emmerich Andreas. Partisan in War, or, The use of a corps of light
troops to an army. London: n.p., 1789.

Ewald Johann. Abhandlung über den kleinen Krieg. Cassel: Johann Jacob
Cramer, 1785.

Ewald Johann. Abhandlung vom Dienst der leichten Truppen. Flensburg,
Schleswig, Leipzig: Korten und Boie, 1790.

Ewald Johan. Belehrungen über den Krieg. Schleswig: J. G. Röhß, 1798. 

Ewald Johann. Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal, ed. Joseph
P. Tustin . New Haven. Yale University Press, 1979.

Ewald Johann. Folge der Belehrungen über den Krieg. Schleswig: J. G. Röhß, 1800. 

Ewald Johann. Gedanken eines hessischen Officiers über das, was man
bey Führung eines Detachements im Felde zu thun hat. Cassel: Johann
Jacob Cramer, 1774.

Ewald Johann. Zweite und letzte Folge der Belehrungen über den Krieg.
Schleswig: J. G. Röhß, 1803.

Simcoe John Graves. A Journal of the Operations of The Queen's
Rangers, from the End of the Year 1777, to the Conclusion of the Late
American War. Exeter: For the Author, 1787.

Tarleton Banastre. A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the
Southern Provinces of North America. London: T. Cadell, 1787.


Another document of interest as a primary source, and available
through Questia, is this one:

Diary of the American Revolution: From Newspapers and Original Documents Vol. 2 
Book by Frank Moore; Charles Scribner, 1860 

Although Ewald himself is not mentioned in the book, there is a fair
amount of materials here on the Hessians. such as this brief excerpt:

SEPTEMBER 16. -- EARLY this morning, Lieutenant-Colonel. Simcoe, with
the Queen's Rangers, Lientenant-Colonel. Emmerick, with the chasseurs,
and a detachment of the second battalion of General De Lancey's
brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Tarleton, with the dragoons of the legion,
and one troop of Colonel Emmerick's, and the Hessian Jagers, moved
from their respective encampments near King's Bridge.
Lieutenant-Colonels Simcoe and Emmerick marched undiscovered between
two rebel pickets, and got one mile and a half in the rear of a body
of two hundred and thirty select Virginia riflemen, strongly posted in
front on Babcock's Heights, under the command of Colonel Gist.
Lieutenant-Colonel Tarleton marched to Colonel Philip's farm. About
six in the morning, Lieutenant-Colonel. Emmerick, with the detachment
of De Lancey's, attacked the rebels, and though discovered when going
to attack, killed three on the spot...


The US Army Center for Military History has compiled a bibliography of
sources on German Participation in the Revolutionary War:
Historical Resources Branch
The War of American Independence
German Participation

The first part of the list are actual manuscripts, which would be
awfully hard to come by, but the latter part of the list consists of
published works of mostly secondary sources -- but the type that
provide a lot of primary material --  I suspect there might be works
of interest to you here.


Another military history site has a photo of a Hessian powder magazine:

and another site with a very detailed picture of a well-equipped Hessian soldier:

I would suggest exploring the site, as there's a lot
of additional useful information here.


Here's another few tidbits on Ewald, particularly interesting for his
personal motto included at the end:

Honor is like an island,
Steep and without a shore;
They who once leave,
Can never return.


Also from the Park Service, a good historical overview of Ewald and
Hessians (including a link between the Hessians and Benedict Arnold)
at Yorktown:

Note the good bibliography included here as well.


Very nice write-up here on a soldier that served with Ewald, with lots
of the type of personal detail I think you're looking for:

For instance, there's this:

On 13 January 1777, George Washington sent a letter to all Continental
Army Captains stating, "You are not to Inlist any Deserters from the
Army of the King of Britain, or Persons of Disaffected or Suspicious
Character, the American Service having already Suffered greatly by the
Desertion of such persons."  This policy may have been ignored by
Captain Anthony Selin and Major von Ottendorff.  Captain Ewald
reported on 10 April 1777, "we learned that a French [sic] major, Mr.
von Ottendorff, had arrived with a newly organized corps consisting of
Germans and Frenchmen for the reinforcement of the post at Bound
Brook." From the 11th until the 20th of April, Ottendorff attacked
Ewald's post near Bound Brook, New Jersey. These skirmishes between
Ottendorff's and Ewald's troops were probably very dangerous for
Bartholomey and Criselius, as it may have been possible for Ewald or
some of his men to recognize their former countrymen. Hessian
deserters, when caught, were known to have been executed.


Description of a NJ campaign in which Ewald was involved, with a lot
of detail from primary sources:


Well, I've provided a fair amount of pretty diverse materials here,
but truth be told, it's hard to know precisely what would best meet
your research needs.

I hope I've hit the nail on the head.  But if not, please don't rate
this answer until I've had the opportunity to provide you with some
additional information.  Just post a Request for Clarification to let
me know what you need, and I'm at your service.

Best of luck with your work.


search strategy -- Google and Google Images searches on:

[ "johann ewald" OR "johan * ewald" ]

publiuslex-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy