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Hessian soldiers in the American Revolution


Articles about Hessians 

later in history


Donated by Jim Carroll

5 Oct 2005





The following is a rather long article that was written for and appeared in the Hampshire Gazette (Northampton Hampshire County MA) issue dated Aug. 14 1877. It is unsigned.

The Hessians
The great preparations for the celebration of the Bennington battle recalls much that I used to hear of the Hessians, in my youthful days. Bennington was a great depository of military stores, and Gen. Burgoyne, in his attempt to 
join Howe in New York, found himself greatly in need of horses, to mount his dragoons, and hearing that many could be found there, and also wheel carriages, of which he was in much need, besides provisions in abundance, he directed Col 
Baun, with his Hessians, to proceed at once, and seize them, expecting, without doubt, an easy victory. The sequel is too well known to be repeated here. 


After the battle, Bennington found herself with so many prisoners on hand, that it became necessary to make a requisition upon some towns, to come to her relief, and word was sent to Northampton to send on and receive her quota.
Capt. Hezekiah Russell, commander of the only militia company here, started with his men for Bennington. It was a dreary march, most of the country a dense forest, and land-marks, more than roads, to guide him most of the way. However, he returned safely bringing one hundred Hessians with him, accompanied by the wives and children of many of them. As many as could be were locked up in the old jail, on Pleasant street, and the rest were put up in the old meeting house (not in the one recently burned), which to folks of these days would look as much like a jail as anything, with its quaint, square pews, every one almost large enough for a cell. I do not know how long they remained as prisoners, but when they were at liberty to return home, many of them chose to remain here. They were a quiet, inoffensive set, and seemed quite at home there. They would often tell of the promises made to induce them to come here. They were told that we were a savage race, but owning splendid farms, which they were to have as soon as they had conquered us, which could be easily done, if they fought well; and many of them brought their pails to milk the cows in, when they had taken possession of the farms. And they were also told that cabbages, in this country, grew on trees, so that there would be no trouble in planting them. Many of them had families, and, until within a few years, several grandchildren of one of them lived her. A daughter of one of them, John Weir, is still living, and has been an inmate of the Alms House many years. I think she is ninety-five years old. One by the name of Pittsinger lived in Westhampton, and became quite a farmer, and was probably the ancestor of all of that name about here. Dr. Levi Shepherd, an opulent merchant, living on the corner of what is now River street, built, in the rear of his house, a factory for the 
manufacture of Russia Duck, said to be the first ever made in this country. Certainly it was the first manufactory of any magnitude in this town; and as the Hessians were mostly weavers, they were employed to maked the cloth. It also gave 
employment to many natives of the town. A piece of the wall of the factory, I think, is still standing near the large barn, on River street. Connected with the factory was a rope walk, as it was called, a long building extending nearly to South street, where ropes of all kinds were made. I well remember many of the Hessians. They seem to me like old men, and have probably passed from the memory of most now living here, and, like the Benningotn battle, spoken of as a thing of the past. I don not think any from this town were in that battle. The Rev. Thomas Allen, of Pittsfield, the fighting parson, was a native of this town. The famous Col. Ethan Allen once lived here, a while. He was a blacksmith, and had a forge on the place where Mrs. David Strong's house now stands, on Market street.


Note from John Merz


Hello Jim, 


this sure rings a bell - 16. August 1777 the Battle of Bennington, involved the Brunswick Dragoon Regt. Prinz Ludwig, and two guns of the Hanau Artillery. The Hessian Pittsinger mentioned below, was the Hanau Artillery Cannonier Johannes Petzinger, born in Dudenhofen (see mail list archives) and John Weir who I have identified as Johann WEHR, probably also a Hanau Artillery soldier. This will confirm the Hampshire Gazette article of Aug. 14, 1877. In fact, Petzinger's File says that he bought land in Westhampton, Massachusets in 1779 


Hope this helps, John Helmut Merz



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