(Pictured below are two Hessian soldiers)
During the American Revolution, the Britain army made heavy use of German mercenaries to fight, for they found it easier to raise capital and pay for their services than to recruit and train an army of its own people. These mercenaries were called Hessians as they came from a part of present-day Germany previously called Hesse-Cassel. Hesse-Cassel was notorious for lending its military for money in return, in fact it was the country’s greatest export. Some estimate that there were 30,000 Hessians, hired by British Princes, to fight in the American Revolution or about one quarter of British troops. Obviously, too, Hessians in the Revolutionary War cannot be talked about without mentioning George Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware River, in which he led a surprise attack on Hessian forces stationed in Trenton, New Jersey who were off guard after celebrating Christmas Day the day before. Washington killed or captured some 1500 Hessian soldiers that day.
Despite fighting for Britain, though, many British soldiers both dislike and distrusted these soldiers. They saw them as “stealing their pay.” American officials even tried to take advantage of this distrust as they offered 50 acres of land to German Hessians who deserted the army to join the German-Americans population in the United States; however, Hessian soldiers who were found to be deserters were subjected to terrible punishments due to their strict military nature. This nature included boys starting at the age of seven could be recruited for military service, and yearly, there was a draft in which men and boys who were seen as “expendable” were forced into the military. Hessian government, though, could hardly disapprove of this practice, as the country’s financial situation rose from shambles to pristine condition as Hessians were continuously expended but extremely well compensated for. This is why the practice was abused.