Sign honors Ger­mans who helped fight for rev­o­lu­tion

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

— Any­one who has stud­ied the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War likely knows about the Ger­mans who fought on the Bri­tish side. It was the Ger­mans — often re­ferred to as Hes­sians — who were fa­mously am­bushed af­ter Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s troops crossed the frigid Delaware River on Christ­mas night.

Less known, though,

NE­WARK, DEL.

are the ap­prox­i­mately 1,000 Ger­mans who fought on the Amer­i­can side.

“It some­how got lost to his­tory,” said Bill Con­ley, vice pres­i­dent of the Pen­cader Her­itage Area As­so­ci­a­tion and a re­tired his­tory teacher.

Re­cently, Pen­cader hon­ored those Ger­man soldiers with a sign out­side its mu­seum on the Cooch’s Bridge Bat­tle­field south of Ne­wark. The Ger­mans marched down Old Bal­ti­more Pike and across Cooch’s Bridge on their way to York­town where they helped the Amer­i­cans win the war’s fi­nal bat­tle.

So why were Ger­mans fight­ing on both sides of the war?

Dur­ing the time of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, the land now known as Ger­many was com­prised of sev­eral in­de­pen­dent states, each with their own ruler and their own soldiers.

“It was com­mon for them to make a buck by rent­ing out their armies to other coun­tries,” Con­ley said.

Soldiers from Hesse-Rhe­in­fels and Hesse-Darm­stadt — the Hes­sians — were em­ployed by the Bri­tish.

Mean­while, soldiers from Zweibrucken were em­ployed by France and joined French soldiers in com­ing to the colonies un­der the com­mand of Gen­eral Rocham­beau to fight along­side the Amer­i­cans. France and Bri­tain were archri­vals and, as the old adage goes, the en­emy of your en­emy is your friend.

Con­ley said he learned about the Ger­man’s con­tri­bu­tion to Amer­i­can in­de­pen­dence through an ar­ti­cle by Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War his­to­rian Robert A. Selig and de­cided Pen­cader should memo­ri­al­ize their con­tri­bu­tion.

The sign was un­veiled Oct. 21 dur­ing a cer­e­mony or­ga­nized by Pen­cader and the Delaware Saenger­bund.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF DON­ALD THUREAU

Bill Con­ley, vice pres­i­dent of the Pen­cader Her­itage Area As­so­ci­a­tion, speaks at a cer­e­mony hon­or­ing Ger­man soldiers who fought along­side the Amer­i­cans dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War.

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