the hessians

Review of ‘The Hessians and the Other German Auxiliaries of Great Britain in the Revolutionary War’

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Edward J. Lowell, an American lawyer and historian with an interest in German participation as mercenaries in the American Revolution, published a book on that involvement in 1884. He outlined the practice, common during the period, of the princes of the German principalities of supplying fighting men to the other European powers—among them, England, which was one of the main customers for such services. The Hessians and the Other German Auxiliaries of Great Britain in the Revolutionary War by Edward J. Lowell, has been reprinted in e-book format, making it accessible to today’s readers.

Originally a series of letters, this book explores the historical background, beginning with the fact that Germany at the time was not a unified nation, but rather a loose collection of independent entities, and exploring in detail the German participation in America’s war for independence from Britain.
Written in the linguist style of the period, Lowell’s book gives the previously untold story of the dreaded Hessians, and their failures and successes in the war. An interesting bit of trivia, for example; while the term Hessian was applied to all German auxiliaries, only a portion of the foreign troops were from Hesse-Cassel, but the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, was one of the most formidable of the suppliers of mercenary troops, and thus, the name was applied to all, regardless of their true origin.

For readers interested in the Revolutionary period, this book puts a human face on the war, providing details that are often lacking in standard histories of the period. It should be required reading for any student of history, and is highly recommended to anyone who wants to know more about the evolution of current American-European relations.

I received a free copy of the book. I give it four stars.