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Hessian soldiers in the American Revolution





Journal of the Fusilier Regiment v. Knyphausen From 1776 to 1783

Extractions by Robert A. Fetters

This Journal was reportedly kept by a Lt. Ritter, and was called his diary, though this cannot be verified in the manuscript. It was in G. K. Hall’s “Hessian Documents in the American Revolution,” Document “P,” as translated, typed and obtained from microfiche at the U.S. Army & Education Center, U.S. Army Military History Institute, 950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle, PA 17013-5021 (Apr 2005). The originals are reported to be at the Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey. Dr. Fred Vickerson provided the info, leading to the acquisition of a copy of this manuscript. The following is an extraction of the key dates and elements of the Journal. Many other Regiments are mentioned, but this extraction is specific to the von Knyphausen Regiment. However, an attempt was made to extract not only reported activities but their relationship to other events of the Revolution. The Journal is 101 typed pages, reduced here to less than 5 pages, but includes comments by the extractor [in square brackets].

1684   Manuscript begins with a Regimental history, covering the period from formation until:

1776   11 Jan: Regiment ordered to North America, with officers appointed to the Companies (25).

03 Mar: Regiment marched from permanent headquarters at Ziegenhain, with entries for day by day movements.

15 Apr: Embarked on transport fleet of “Spring,” “Mermaid” & Claudina,” under Capt. Barcker. 20 men & the Minnegrode Company left behind at Bremerlehe “for want of ships.”

17 Apr: Set sail.

26 Apr: Anchored at Plymouth [England], and received an additional ship (the “Hartley”), and supplies. A distribution of officers among the ships is given.

06 May: Fleet set sail, under Commodore Hotham, each ship’s Captain with sealed orders for rejoining forces if separated.

11 Aug: Nova Scotia land sighted.

14 & 15 Aug: Troops disembarked on Staten Island.

25 Aug: Ferried to Long Island.

27 Aug: Army advanced to the lines at Flatbush, where the rebels were entrenched, and fighting began, with the Americans withdrawing to fortifications at Brooklyn.

30 Aug: Last night, the enemy left Long Island, to New York, forsaking fortifications at Brookland [sic] & Redhook.

01 Sep: Firing on New York began today.

16 Oct: The Knyphausen Regiment had its first man wounded.

23 Oct: Knyphausen’s 2nd Division landed and encamped at New Rochelle.

26 Oct: Engagement on the heights at White Plains, with Knyphausen occupying heights not held by the enemy (Knyphausen had 2 men wounded), and pursuing the enemy 2 miles.

06 Nov: Von Knyphausen Regiment advanced against Kingsbridge and drove enemy from Fort Independence.

16 Nov: Knyphausen led attack on Fort Washington. The fortress surrendered, with 2600 prisoners. By now, the Knyphausen Regiment was 35 men short of full strength.

21 Nov: Fort Washington renamed Fort Knyphausen. The American Troops crossed to New Jersey.

08 Dec: Went through Princeton, with the baggage following the Battalions to Trenton.

13 Dec: Captured the enemy’s General Lee, surprised in his quarters.

25 Dec: 100 men attacked Picket posted along road to Maidenhead, but both withdrew after a volley.

26 Dec: “At half-past seven this morning the picket on the road was attacked with great force and compelled to retreat.” The rebels surrounded the town (Trenton) on all sides. Colonel Rall [commander at Trenton] was twice fatally wounded, and the troops were obliged to surrender. The Knyphausen surrendered after the other two Regiments had capitulated. 200 men of the 3 Regiments forded the river and escaped imprisonment, retreating to Bordentown [NJ].

28 Dec: A combined Battalion was formed from the remainder of the 3 captured Regiments.

1777     Until 11 Jan: Turmoil among the British and Hessians, until both armies went into winter quarters. About 4th of Jan, QM Sergeant Müller was dispatched with necessaries for the [Hessian] prisoners in Philadelphia. P.28 of the manuscript shows a listing of the numbers of prisoners, by Regiments, with 333 men and 5 women from v. Knyphausen “taken in the attack at Trentown” [sic]. Totally, 1044 men and 22 women were shown as taken prisoner, with officers named. A re-organization of the units followed into February, and the troops moved back into New York and variously to NJ and minor skirmishes.

16 Feb: QM Müller returned from Philadelphia, reporting “the men were imprisoned in Lancaster, but that the officers had been conveyed 300 miles further, as far as the extreme frontiers of Virginia.”

23 Mar: “Colonel v. Borck [commander of my Johann Henrich Hammer’s Company], who had now recovered from his wound received at Fort Knyphausen, returned to the Regiment to-day.”

08 Jun: “The Regiment received 36 recruits to-day” from Germany, but none to Knyphausen.

11 Jun: Marched and encamped at Brunswick, and on 30 Jun to Staten Island.

09 Jul: The army embarked, with the v. Knyphausen on board the “Nonsuch,” and set sail with 300 ships (23 Jul), landing in the Chesapeake river at Turkey Bay in Maryland to face the enemy at Brandewin [sic] Hill (25 Aug).

11 Sep: Early in the AM, the main army detoured 17 miles to attack the enemy’s right flank, while v. Knyphausen occupied the attention of the enemy [Battle of Brandywine]. The enemy fled.

27 Sep: Lord Cornwallis has occupied Philadelphia, with outposts at Germantown.

04 Oct: The rebel army attempted a surprise attack at Germantown [Battle of Germantown], but was repulsed with loss.

02 Nov: Report received that Bourgoyne’s [sic] army disastrously taken prisoner at Saratoga.

21 Nov: Enemy’s fleet burned by the rebels themselves.

26 Nov: “Ensign v. Lützow and six recruits joined the Knyphausen Regiment” with transport of re-inforcements [sic] from Europe.

02 Dec: Present combined Battalion now divided into two Battalions (250+ men, each).

22 Dec: Lt-General v. Knyphausen remained in command of the town [Philadelphia] and the lines, as arrangements are being made for winter quarters (30 Dec).

29 Dec: Some of enemy going into quarters at Lancaster but the remainder “will be quartered in huts, 25 miles from here” [Valley Forge].

1778    01 Jan: New uniforms issued (lost at Trenton), with new helmets received by the Knyphausen Regiment.

18 Mar: Prisoner exchange attempted---3000 rebel prisoners at Philadelphia & NY and about 1000 Hessian & British. No agreement reached.

25 Mar: General Lee paroled by British and officers from Knyphausen arrived in Philadelphia on parole (28 Mar).

20 Apr: Twelve more imprisoned Hessian officers arrived on parole.

08 May: Word received of alliance between France and the American States.

18 Jun: Commanding General Clinton left Philadelphia with troops, which had not been transported. The rear guard under von Knyphausen left early morning, the 20th. “The army camped at Mount Holly, and we at Morristown” [beginning the march across NJ].

24 Jun: Continuing the march, “the men deserted in great numbers.”

28 Jun: Battle of Monmouth, but the Journal says only “fought an action, whereby the English lost 300 men, but the rebels a great many more.”

01 Jul: “Since we marched out from Philadelphia 31 men have deserted from the Knyphausen Regiment.”

06 Jul: The embarked troops arrived at New York in the evening, where the army was distributed on Staten, York and Long Islands.

19 Jul: Transport of our exchanged prisoners arrived; “the Knyphausen Regiment received 10 Non-commissioned officers, 3 Drummers, and 116 men.” The 2 Battalions were reformed into the original Regiments.

06 Aug: “A Non-commissioned officer and 23 men of the Knyphausen Regiment, who had been in imprisonment, were exchanged and returned.”

16 Aug: “Of our prisoners, another Non-Commissioned officer and 10 men arrived today.” “An Ensign Führer of the v. Knyphausen Regiment deserted the 7th of this month.”

20 Aug: “The Regiment received 2 men from a re-inforcements [sic] transport from Hesse.”

21 Sep: The v. Knyphausen Regiment (with others) went to Valentin’s Hill for forage, returning 10 Oct.

27 Oct: 9 Non-commissioned officers and 87 men returned from being prisoners of war.

09 & 10 Nov: Winter quarters taken, the Knyphausen being assigned a position on the North River, 6 miles from New York, at John’s House, where huts were built.

1779 28 Jan: Our cavalry surprised a troop of rebels at Tarrytown [the location of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the headless (Hessian) horseman. The headless horseman was supposedly hunting for his head taken off by a cannon ball during this engagement.]

17 May: “The Knyphausen Regiment went into camp at New York on the East River,” serving as town guard.

17 July: The rebels under General Wayne attacked Fort Stoneypoint, and took the garrison. The Fort was re-occupied on 20 Jul. Knyphausen changed its place of encampment on the North River.

30 Jul: Lt. V. Ferry of the Knyphausen Regiment dismissed for bad conduct.

12 Aug: v. Knyphausen Regiment notified to hold themselves in readiness to embark.

08 Sep: Knyphausen Regiment (with others) embarked with all their heavy baggage on the “Archer,” Triton,” and “Molly.” Col. V. Borck [Johann Henrich Hammer’s commander], an Ensign Ritter [perhaps the Lt. Ritter responsible for this Journal?], and others were on the “Archer,” while the officers on the other ships were also named. The ships were in bad condition and short of sailors. The “Archer,” with 200 men aboard, became separated from the other 12 ships and escort, by 10 Sep, and thus returned for New York. Enroute back, a British frigate intervened with attacking Privateers, and ran them aground at Egg Harbour. At Sandy Hook, they were told to catch up with the fleet that had earlier left from there (12 Sep). Contrary winds kept them anchored at Sandy Hook, and 4 days of storms caused them to drop two anchors.

17 Sep: 5:00 PM, set off with favourable [sic] and variable winds, until a violent gale on 23 Sep tore two sails to pieces.

27 Sep: Coast of Nova Scotia sighted, and anchored the evening of 28 Sep at Halifax harbour. News of the rest of the fleet was received on 04 Oct, having been scattered, foundered or captured. [It is known that the others of the v. Knyphausen Regiment had been re-captured.] They were to continue on to Quebec [fear of the French fleet planning an attack there].

13 Oct: After a skirmish with a Privateer, they “got into the gulf of St. Lawrence.”

20 Oct: After fighting unfavorable winds and storms, and getting no closer to land, the decision was made to winter on St. John’s Island (supplies being forwarded). 7 houses and some huts represented the sparsely populated town, called Charlotte Town.

29 Oct: Landed and pitched tents, until wood and earth huts built by 12 Nov. Provisions arrived 22 Nov.

16 Dec: The harbour was frozen over. “The cold is very severe here and the winter lasts seven months.”

1780   By 02 Jan, had been snowing 3 weeks and difficult to get out the door. Weather still the same on 10 Apr, with 4 feet of snow in 2 days, by 16 Apr.

26 Apr: Ice cracked in the harbour.

06 May: First strange boat in 6 months arrived from Fort Cumberland.

19 May: Col. V. Borck had a defensive entrenchment built. Maple syrup described.

23 May: Snowing, but warm weather by the 27th.

31 May: Learned that the v. Knyphausen Regiment on board “Triton” and “Molly,” after the ships were dismasted in the storm, had been captured by privateers.

11 Jun: Escort brig from Quebec “arrived to fetch us thither,” and we embarked 15 Jun, sailing 16 Jun.

29 Jun: After difficulties during the trip to and up the St. Lawrence, anchored at Quebec.

30 Jun: Disembarked at Wolfe Cove and quartered at St. Foix. Ensign Ritter became Col. v. Loos’s Adjutant. [Note: The Journal seems to become less detailed from this point in time.] A combined Battalion was formed under Col. v. Borck. Quebec is described as not clean like the English, but is mostly French. Many other Regiments are located here at Quebec.

20 Jul: All the German troops were mustered by the Commissioner, Major Holland.

22 Aug: The Hessian combined Battalion (plus Hanau detached Regiment) going into camp on Abraham’s Plain not far from Quebec. They provide guard for Quebec and furnish 460 men daily for work on the fortifications.

25 Sep: Approaching winter drives all ships not staying, to leave.

04-06 Nov: Troops to winter quarters, with Knyphausen Regiment in Quebec. Requisite winter clothing issued, and cattle butchered. A different fish brought in each month. Snowshoes were issued 27 Dec.




21 Mar: Hessian troops and other German troops mustered.

09 Apr: Sun melted 18 inches of snow depth in the past 48 hours.

01 May: Ice broke on St. Lawrence. Ships begin arriving on 1st of May.

27 Jul: Knyphausen (& Lossberg) Regiments into camp on Abraham’s Plain, performing same duties as last year.

12 Sep: Knyphausen Regiment received orders to travel to New York in returning ships. The portion of the Knyphausen Regiment which had been taken prisoner at sea, had been exchanged and a combined Battalion formed under Major v. Stein, at New York.

02 Oct: Colonel v. Borck embarked to-day with the remainder of the v. Knyphausen Regiment on the ship “James and William,” with 3 officers, 19 non-commissioned officers and 174 men. Ensign Ritter stayed in Quebec with Col. v. Loos.

04 Oct: Sailed under escort of “Garland,” and at Halifax’s port 16th thru 18th Oct.

28 Oct: Arrived at New York, and quartered at barracks on the North River, where the Regiment was reunited and reformed.

31 Oct: Lord Cornwallis compelled to surrender at York Town [VA].

18-25 Nov: Lord Cornwallis’ officers arrived in New York on parole.

30 Nov: The English and Hessian invalids sailed for Europe, with Cornwallis following 08 Dec.

1782   25 Jan: v. Knyphausen Regiment and others mustered to-day.

18 May: Lt. General v. Knyphausen embarked with permission to return to Hesse.

20 May: General Carlton mustered all the English and Hessian Regiments on York Island.

16 Jun: The Knyphausen Regiment encamped a mile from New York.

22 Sep: The Knyphausen Regiment went into camp at Kingsbush.

[31 Oct: Extractor’s 4 great grandfather, Corporal Johann Henrich Hammer of the Borck’s Company, von Knyphausen Regiment, deserted from NY, taking an “Oath of Allegiance” to Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia.]

07 Nov: The Knyphausen Regiment marched into quarters at Jamaica on Long Island.

1783   09 Apr: Armistice concluded and formally announced.

23 Apr: Two men of Knyphausen Regiment returned after paying for their release.

04 May: Transport of 6,000 to 7,000 refugees and Loyalists left for land in Nova Scotia. 2nd fleet sailed 11 Jun.

02 Aug: Knyphausen Regiment left its winter quarters in Jamaica; encamp at Newton Creek.

04 Aug: Notice received of evacuation order of all America, except Nova Scotia and Canada; ordered by peace treaty, recognizing the “States of America as free and independent states.”

05 Aug: Hessian Regiments notified to prepare for return journey to Hesse.

12 Aug: Embarkation of the Knyphausen Regiment on the “Ladies Adventure.” 500 people were on board, not including the crew. “During the past 2 months, 56 men who had been imprisoned, had successfully come in, of whom eight had ransomed themselves and the remainder exchanged.’ Those 119 who had not returned were checked off as deserted and left behind.”

15 Aug: Set sail and left Sandy Hook.

06 Sep: Arrived at mouth of English Channel, after only 21 days.

08 Sep: Anchored off Deal, the rendezvous point for all ships with German troops on board.

14 Sep: Continued voyage to Bremerlehe, alone, anchoring there on 21 Sep.

25 Sep: The Knyphausen Regiment marched overland to Hesse, though the artillery, invalids, women and children went by water. The march stop towns were named, by day.

10 & 11 Oct: Mustering of the Hon. Regiment took place, returning the Regiment to a peacetime footing.

16 Oct: The Hon. Regiment marched into garrison at Ziegenhain.

Robert A. Fetters, 215 Dun Road, Chillicothe, OH 45601-1173 < [email protected] >
MW file: Hessians General\von Knyphausen Journal






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