Most interesting to me, and an everlasting chuckle, is that the particular Hessians who originated my mother’s family here were the troops under Johann Rall, assigned to guard the town of Trenton.
“On the night of December 25–26, 1776 General George Washington crossed the Delaware River with his troops on the way to Trenton, New Jersey. The Hessian regiments, camped in and around Trenton, were attacked and decisively defeated by the American Continental Army.
The Hessians had supposedly let their guard down to celebrate the Christmas holiday, and (legend has it) Rall himself was misled by John Honeyman, a spy of Washington who convincingly posed as a loyalist.
According to one account, Rall was busy playing cards/chess the night before the attack at the home of Trenton merchant Abraham Hunt when he was handed a note from a local Loyalist who’d seen Washington’s forces gathering. Then after receiving the message, placed it in his coat pocket without reading it.”
More to the fact: In typical German military tradition, on that Christmas night he and his homesick troops had royally “tied one on”. By the time Washington’s forces crossed the Delaware (Yes, that crossing.), even the guys who actually woke up were in no condition to fight.
Having other priorities, Washington took all their stuff, and powder, and left them to their humiliation. The British command immediately declared their mercenary contract null and void, then reminded them that there had been no written guarantee included of British repatriation to their home country.
Big problem for their officers, who couldn’t return home in such shame, but had property that would be put at risk if they didn’t. Not a problem to the enlisted men, who had already discovered that their relative health, vigor and stolid character made them all quite the “catch” among the colonial women.
It took them very little time to review their choices; find their own way back to Hesse-Cassel, and continue the Spartan military life, or head out to the unknown hinterlands to seek what they would never have back home; their own little “kingdoms”. One thing they did know for sure; they were not welcome by anyone to stay where they were!
I’ve been shown pictures of the actual military payroll books for the Hessian command there, confirming the origins of the family names “Hase”, “Bloyer”, and “Woodke”, scions of the dinky but productive little farm town of Schaller Iowa, population 749.
Sorry if this seems going on “beyond”, but I’m kind of pleased to have been able to dig out my own families continuation of such a legendary episode in American history. Each and every day of our lives is someone’s “History” even if not our own, and nobody knows what minor connections of ours will become our or another’s “family legend”. The deeper that people look into their own family’s stories, the more likely they will find one of their own…