- Dated: circa 18th century
- Culture: German or British
- The Hessians were 18th-century German mercenaries contracted for service under the The Crown of the British Empire. About 30,000 German soldiers served in the Thirteen Colonies during the American Revolutionary War; nearly half were from the Hesse region of Germany; the others came from similar small German states.
- In the context of the British service, they were all referred to as “Hessians.” The American colonists and many historians called them mercenaries. They were regular members of the armies of their German princes who hired them out in units, not as individuals. They received wages, but the prince received most of the funds; Britain found it easier to borrow money to pay for their service than to recruit its own soldiers.
- The British used the Hessians in several conflicts, including in Ireland, but they are most widely associated with combat operations in the American Revolutionary War. They provided extensive manpower to support the king’s cause.
- The pro-independence side made propaganda use of the fact that the soldiers were non-British, and portrayed them as mercenaries. They also offered them land bounties to desert and join the Americans. Several more German units were placed on garrison duty in the British Isles to free up British regulars for service in North America.
Joseph Mallord William Turner, Fishermen at Sea (detail)
Allan Ramsay, The Artist’s Wife, Margaret Lindsay of Evelick (detail) 1758
Kinglass viaduct and Ben a Chaisteil » by Damian Shields
Ideal Female Heads
by Augustin Pajou, 1769-70,
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, US.
fashion plate 1798
Illustrations by Balthasar Anton Dunker, c. 1761- c. 1781.
Adam Bernaert. Detail from Vanitas, 1660.
John Francis Rigaud:
Portrait of Captain Robert Mann, 1779.
Portrait of the Count Andrey Kyrillovich Razumovski, 1776.
Jan van Os. Detail from Flowers in Terra-Cotta Vase, 1780.