Webmaster's note: The book you are about to read is truly a one-of-a-kind classic, for a sad reason - much of the irreplaceable source material that the author consulted was destroyed by Allied bombs during World War Two. For that reason, it is an indispensable reference to the researcher, and as you can see, its scope makes it an excellent starting point for the casual historian.
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GERMAN AUXILIARIES OF GREAT BRITAIN IN THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR
Edward J. Lowell
Harper and Brothers Publishers
The history of the German auxiliaries, who fought for Great Britain in the Revolutionary War, has not received from American writers the amount of attention which its importance would seem to deserve. Much has been made of the fact that seven thousand French soldiers and nineteen thousand French seamen assisted the United States in the siege of Yorktown, but we have forgotten that a force of between fifteen and twenty thousand Germans served for seven years against us; that more than twenty-nine thousand were brought to America for this purpose; that more than twelve thousand never returned to Germany. I know of no American historian but Bancroft, who has made any thorough study of this subject in the original authorities, and the general nature of his work does not call on him, and, indeed, would hardly permit him, to write the history of the German troops in detail. Doctor George Washington Greene has published interesting reviews of three of Kapp's books, and the narrative of Baroness Riedesel has been translated into English by William L. Stone, Esq., who has also translated that part of Eelking's "Life of Riedesel" which relates to the Revolutionary War.
In preparing the following book, I cannot claim to have used nearly all the very voluminous stores contained in the libraries and archives of Germany. I have, however, found original German accounts of every important engagement, and of almost every skirmish of the Revolutionary War, from the year 1776 to the end, except of some of those battles which occurred in the Carolinas and Georgia, and in which few, if any, Germans were engaged. Some of these accounts, I believe, had never yet fallen under the eye of an American writer.
In Germany the treaties for the letting of soldiers to Great Britain, and the history of those soldiers have received more attention than in America. Two writers are especially prominent among those who have dealt with these subjects. One of these writers is Friedrich Kapp, now a member of the Reichstag, and formerly an exile in America. To his books I am largely indebted, both directly and indirectly, for information embodied in this volume, and especially in the first five chapters. The other writer is Max von Eelking, captain in the service of Saxe-Meiningen, and corresponding member of the New York Historical Society. His two works, "Die deutschen Hulfstruppen im nordamerikanischen Befreiungskriege," and "Leben und Wirken des Herzoglich Braunschweigischen General Lieutenants Friedrich Adolph von Riedesel," constitute a history of the war from the German point of view. Captain von Eelking had access to a very rich store of material. His list of manuscripts for the first-mentioned work alone (many of them the property of private persons) comprises thirty-eight numbers. In writing the life of Riedesel he was allowed to consult or copy all the letters and papers left by that general. Had Captain von Eelking shown as much care in the use of materials as he did industry in their collection, his works would be very valuable contributions to American history. Unfortunately the results of his labors are marred by inaccuracies. I have often been obliged to depend upon him, but I have done so with caution.
The reader will find in this book many passages which belong rather to biography or to anecdote than to history. The adventures of comparatively unimportant persons, such as Wiederhold, Ewald, or Baroness Riedesel are related at some length. It has been my object to give an idea of what sort of people the auxiliaries were, and of what impression America and the Americans made upon them. To this end I have not hesitated to introduce apparently trivial matter, where it has seemed characteristic, nor to quote opinions or descriptions which, though genuine, were mistaken.
I take this opportunity heartily to thank Doctor Duncker, Librarian of the Standische Landesbibliothek at Cassel, and the secretary, Herr Schultheiss; Doctor Konnecke, Keeper of the Archives at Marburg, and his assistants; and Doctor Speyer, Court Librarian to his Most Serene Highness the Prince of Waldeck, through whose kindness I have obtained copies of manuscripts in their respective keeping.
A part of the contents of this volume appeared in the form of letters to the New York Times in the winter of 1880-1881.